Tuesday, January 30, 2007

“Sealed with a Cross”

For reasons that will become obvious, I have not given the names of the central characters in this short wartime story about West Cumberland. There was an article in the local West Cumbrian newspaper, ‘The Whitehaven News’ during the summer of 1942. I came across it whilst researching another subject for the BBC "People’s War". It may illustrate how some things that have changed in society since the war and how some things have not changed.

The essence of this tale is that a gentleman who was a steelworker (aged 35) and a lady (aged 33) travelled together from Barrow-in- Furness to Whitehaven and they booked into a hotel for the evening. At the time the rules required hotel guests to fill in a form giving their names, address, nationality and so forth. Presumably this was for the good of the National Security. The steelworker from Barrow-in-Furness completed his personal details on the form. Additionally, he filled in the details for his good lady, whom he registered at the hotel as his wife. Because the lady claimed she was unable to write, she signed her name with a cross. They couple were then shown to their room. For some reason, the hotel owner was suspicious about this particular couple and called in the police.

Nevertheless all went well for the Barrovians until the following morning. By then the forms had been checked by the local constabulary and they too were suspicious. After being questoned by a police inspector it transpired that the lady was not actually the wife of the gentleman she was with. She was married, but to someone else. Subsequently, the lady in question was charged at Whitehaven Court and appeared before the local Magistrates. The charge was one of "making a false statement to the manager of a West Cumberland Hotel". The gentleman to whom she had claimed to be married was charged with "aiding and abetting". Both parties pleaded guilty.

Strange as it may seem nowadays, the lady’s real husband went on to be questioned by the police to verify this was the case. At the first hearing of the case it was the real husband who had written a letter to the Magistrates on behalf of his wife with the guilty plea. To conclude this sorry tale, it may be appropriate to state that by this time the whole affair had become a serious matter. Please pardon the pun. There were some strange goings on in wartime!

Meeting one of the world's great men

Last night, after taking this photo, I got to shake the hand of someone who I truly believe was one of the "Greats" of World War 2.
I refer, of course, to Sir.Nicholas Winton MBE and the simplest place to read about him is on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Winton

At the age of 96 he travelled up from Maidenhead to be interviewed in a packed hall by our local Rabbi Fine. At the conclusion of the interview he received a standing ovation from a mesmerised audience.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Logging in to the new blogger

Sorry for not realising you would experience difficulty in logging in to the new Blogs, and especially to Joe for not responding sooner. Somehow your email got buried Joe. For the new blogger you need a Google email account (painless and free) although they didn't make this clear before switching.

You can get the required Google account here.

Having got your Google email account, the account address becomes your logging in name, i.e., your Username, after which you enter your Google Mail password. Let's suppose your email address is myname@googlemail.com, you use that to sign in. Not just the myname bit but the entire address including the @. And the password you enter is the password for that email address.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another Legend falls

This is of course Colonel Coldwell- Horsefall of the 78th Battleaxe Division when he took command of the Irish Rifles of the 38th Irish bde at Cassino - in conjunction with my old regiment of the 16th/5th Lancers at the Gustav Line. He was then badly wounded at the Gothic Line and took no further part in the war.
I met him once briefly, when he was M.D. of Webster -Horsefall - wire makers of Birmingham when I was selling tools in that area on a one week training stint before being sent off to the Newcastle region. He struck me as a real "pukkha "Colonel who would stand no nonsense from anyone !
Sadly they are all going, but what memories they envoke.

Winter comes to London 24/1/07