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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Home-Made Fire Beater Competition

by Leominsterlibrary

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mr J W Daniels
Location of story: 
Monkland Herefordshire
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 March 2005

After leaving school I worked for 18 months helping to build Shobdon aerodrome. This provided a training ground for glider pilots. I also spent 2 years helping to build the American hospital camp at Baron’s Cross. Near Monkland common where I lived, a beacon point was set up. Each evening RAF personnel brought by lorry a towed beacon light and set it in place. This was manned all night by 4 RAF men. The flashing beacon was for planes approaching to land to take bearings from. They had a coke brazier which burned all night for warmth and to fry bacon, eggs, sausages etc and to make tea. The glider pilots were in training for the war in Italy. The children would join them until their bedtime.
In the autumn of 1940 when all the corn was ripe and an invasion seemed imminent, the village held a competition for the best home made fire beater to put out a blaze in a cornfield.
My father grew all types of vegetables and we also kept a pig which was fed kitchen scraps. At about 8 months old the pig would weigh 17-20 score ( score= 20lbs) My mother got so attached to each pig which she always named Betty, that she had to go out to the other side of the village on slaughter day. The carcase, the pig meats hams and flitches were hung from the rafters in the living room. Bacon ration was stopped for 6-9 months for each pig killed. In the autumn and the winter rabbits were plentiful around Monkland. They could be shot with a catapult and stone and made a good dinner when roasted or stewed. At corn cutting time the villagers would muster at the field to be cut and take up positions all around the perimeter. Carrying a good stick as the binder went around the field cutting a swathe the rabbits would try to move to mid-field for cover. One would bolt for the hedge every now and then and those near would try to fell it with a blow, then it would be killed. As they were killed they were laid out in couples and when the corn was all cut each villager taking part would be given one or two rabbits to take home. One night in Monkland vicarage club room at the top of the house in an east facing room we saw an Amber glow in the sky. It wasn’t until the next day that we found out that it had been Coventry burning.

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