January 1, 1970

Crowle at War: Part 9. Preserving, Newspapers, – submitted by Bill Goldthorp

By Bill Goldthorp


One could use the sugar ration and occasionally get extra sugar for preserving. My father’s orchard contained a Conference pear and another type of pear tree, Victoria and Damson plums. Green gage plums could be bought from the Ramsdens who owned the Tetley Hall Estate. Every autumn my parents put up about a hundred bottles of fruit in the old Kilner Jars. Damsons were used to make Damson jam and I was sent off brambling in order to make Bramble jam or jelly. We grew our own blackcurrants and gooseberries for jam and jelly.
From school and on my own we went collecting rose hips, to make rose-hip syrup. This was said to be a good source of vitamin C. My father made rose-hip syrup in 1941 and insisted that I had a teaspoonful every day. Unenamoured by the taste I suggested that this was unfair and that Mum and dad should have a spoonful as well. Fortunately it was an experiment that he did not repeat.

on one side of the 16 acre paddock behind our house was an old tree that had blown down twenty years ago. For years there had been a bees’ nest in it. My father got the farmer’s permission to harvest the honey. It would be in 1941, we both went along. Father lit two of his precious cigarettes and threw them into the hive. The old wood started smoulder. We chopped open the top of the hive and removed about ten buckets full of honeycomb and there was a lot left for next year. We poured several buckets of water in to put the fire out. 11 pm our next-door neighbour told us the tree had caught fire again. I was dragged out of bed; we could see the flames from the bottom of the orchard. We had to go to the pond and carry a good twenty buckets of water to put the fire out. While we were doing that there was a drone overhead, a staccato burst and yellow lines went into the field, but a long way away. Dad reckoned we had been spotted by a prowling aircraft and shot at, the yellow lines being tracers. We crushed the combs and hung them up in muslin bags for a week; we ended up with about eight gallons of honey, which we used instead of sugar. That honey lasted well beyond the end of the war and eventually crystallised in to solid white honey.

A more mundane use for newspapers.

Our house was very modern; it had electricity, at first a well in the back garden but in 1935 mains water. We had a modern bathroom and separate room for a water closet. Drainage had been promised for 1935 but the land around Crowle was too low lying and problems occurred. Everyone including the wealthy had the old tin can in a brick shed at the back. The Crawshaws, the Night-soil merchants came round at night once a week. Septic tanks did not appear until after the war. That was another of my duties, with a carving knive, cutting the paper into squares. I preferred the Daily Mirror, easy to get four sheets from a page. The Daily Express was still a broad sheet paper not so easy to cut. When I had a thick enough bunch make a hole in the corner with a nail and thread some binder twine through and hang at the back of the door. Inside we had highly decorative porcelain potties, piss pots or goesunders, what ever you like to call them. My father bought a new one, written on it “Give Your GEST-A-PO”. Gestapo were the vicious element of the German police.

Sandtoft Aerodrome.

This started of in late 1940 as a false drome. Just landing lights in the pattern of an aerodrome which flashed on and off at night as if planes were landing. The idea being to get prowling bombers to drop their bombs in the middle of nowhere. Later it became a training aerodrome for bomber crews and that is when the crashes started. Later it became an active fighting bomber aerodrome. Even more crashes of bombers that just failed to make it home. only once did my father who was a Special Constable tell me of one of his duties as a Special. Years later with large tears rolling down his cheeks he described how they searched the nearby fields in a grid fashion picking up arms, legs, heads and other body parts of the young men who had been flying the planes.

Crowle Police Station, April 1939.
Induction of Special Constables.

My Father.

A memory of summer 1943 and even more so of 1944, standing in the paddock behind our house and watching wave after wave of bombers flying over at eight or nine pm. Sometimes they would fly over non-stop for two hours. Flying over in the direction of Boston where they rendezvoused before heading for Germany. I was now 10 years old and realised fully what warfare meant.

BOSTON STUMP, the church in Boston now began to assume a mystical quality when you talked to an airman whether British or American and must have often been mentioned in their prayers. Boston Stump can be seen far out to sea by mariners, it was seen even farther out by incoming airmen. Coming home on two engines slowly
loosing height, badly shot up with half the crew dead or wounded, if they saw Boston Stump they knew the would live to fight another day. Although often the pilot after ordering his crew to bale out would loose his life by staying aboard to ensure the plane did not land in a built-up area.