Crowle at War: Part 5. Entertainment, Fairs – submitted by Bill Goldthorp
Later in the war as Sandtoft became a training and then an active bomber aerodrome.
Bomber crashes would occur in the surrounding area. The local lads were usually the first to reach a crash site if it was any where near Crowle. They were always efficient souvenir hunters. The day after the crash, the police sergeant, both constables and several specials arrived at the school. We all had to empty our pockets. Machine gun ammunition, cannon shells, flares, the occasional service revolver were all found. After I went Grammar school my father told me that one lad had a live hand grenade in his pocket.
We were allowed to keep the sheets of Perspex, ¼ inch thick, that formed the planes windows. Perspex could be cut with a fretsaw, trimmed with a razor blade, polished with sand and emery paper and melted with hot iron. We made models and jewellery, ear-rings, bracelets, necklaces etc. My speciality was rings. I had found in my mother’s jewellery box numerous tiny cut-glass multi-coloured stones. A hot darning needle would burn a small hole leaving soft Perspex round the hole so that I could fix the tiny stones into it. These we would try to sell for three pence or so to mothers, aunts, friends mothers, older sisters etc. Any susceptible female we could turn our charm onto.
The cinema, dances in the town hall every Friday or Saturday, from the late autumn to late spring. Pubs there were about 16 pubs for a population of 3,500. Whist drives, beetle drives, variety shows, plays in all the five different church halls, nativity plays at Christmas. The last two years of the war I attended about 14 Christmas parties as friends’ parents vied with each other to provide a good do. No shortage of food on those occasions. The annual Sunday school anniversaries, three services with children on the Sunday. A half day off school on the following Wednesday, when the choir with piano and the school pupils on three horse drawn drays toured Crowle singing anniversary hymns and collecting money. This was a day when the Sunday school expanded, when little Baptists, Anglicans and even the odd Catholic would be found on the drays. All the lads being told off by their sisters when the horse did what a horse has to do, accompanied by numerous ohs, ahs, what a pong, I bet Jimmy can’t do as much, etc from the lads present.
The tour was followed by a substantial high tea followed by sports for various prizes in Mr. Proctor’s field. 1944 was my last year on the drays, 1945 I was at Grammar School and did hot have Wednesday afternoon off. I got home in time to attend the sports and saw something that I could not remember seeing before. Victory In Europe day had occurred and someone had found an ice cream van with real ice cream. The prizes that year were all penny cornets and sufficiently varied competitions had to be organised so that every child got a cornet.
Prior to the war all the non-conformist Sunday Schools got to together and hired a train, which took us from Crowle to spend a day at the seaside, Cleethorpes. I can vaguely remember it, 1939 was the last year. Throughout the war we went by bus for a day out in Doncaster. This may seem a bit strange but the Doncaster Town Council specially adapted one of their parks for trips from outside Doncaster. one year we sat in the sun watching the play Robin Hood. I distinctly remember that because I was at the end of the row with my hand dangling in some flowers and got stung by a bee. Another year Snowwhite the Disney cartoon was on at the local Odeon, we were left there under the care of a senior girl. of about 10. We caused a panic when we did not appear at the time expected. It had been very easy to persuade the girl in charge to sit through film for a second time.
The Status (The old hiring fair) stopped but Crowle Fair in May combined with the Crowle Show and Children’s Sports Day continued as part as what was known as War Weapons Week. In 1939 the fair was held as always in the market square but after that was moved to a field about 50 yards behind the square. At first the fair ground closed at dusk but later continued until mid night with subdued lighting. Mrs. Wroot, a buxom tough elderly lady who ran the round about would charge a penny a ride in the afternoon slowly increasing as the evening advanced suddenly to increase to the exorbitant price of sixpence when the pubs shut disgorging large numbers of American airmen and their Girlfriends.
Another thanks, Bill.
Italian POWs used to throw exactly those style of rings to Nurses walking past Nether Headon Camp, to Rampton Hospital, just South of Retford. (My local camp).