- BINGHAM: AN OVERVIEW
- HISTORY OF BINGHAM
- STUDY OF OLD MAPS
- BUILT HERITAGE
- CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
- FARMING IN BINGHAM
- BINGHAM AT WAR
- BINGHAM'S RAILWAYS
- ORAL HISTORY
- NATURAL HISTORY
WORLD WAR II
A MISCELLANY OF INFORMATION ON WARTIME BINGHAM
Our original website pages included a series of unconnected but interesting paragraphs describing some aspects of war time Bingham that do not easily fit into our other pages!
They cover several aspects of the war:
Outbreak of war
At the outbreak of War on 1st September 1939 there was a certain amount of panic. Bernard Whyley of Tythby Road whose father was the village postmaster at Newton, recalls watching the early flights at Newton from his back garden. Bernard was a junior clerk with the Bingham Rural District Council (an area bounded by Leicestershire to the South, Lincolnshire to the East and the river Trent to the West). This far-flung empire was run by only a handful of employees and until 1938 was housed in the Market Place in what is now the “Go Sing” Chinese restaurant. In 1938 the offices were moved into Haden House, which had been a private school, run by a Mr Fraser.
At the start of the war the old Council Offices, i.e. the present” Number 16 cafe” premises, became the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P) post from which all “firewatching” stations were controlled. Young Bernard remembers that after firewatching sessions he would have a bath in what was a large bath for its day, being some 6 ft. in length, however as one was only allowed to use water to a depth of 3 inches, the whole thing was rather incongruous.
The Air Raid Precautions (ARP) crew on standby in Bingham in 1940. These were the Bingham firemen standing by a trailer-pump that could be towed to a fire by a Bedford van. At the time their fire station was in Station Street.
Photo: by permission of Greg Franks.
At the outbreak of war, the government ordered the immediate internment of all German nationals resident in Great Britain. I personally recall a pork butcher on Hyson Green (Nottingham), a kindly old gentleman called Miller (originally Mueller), being taken away by the police, much to the distress of his English born grown up son & daughter who worked with him in the shop. At the time, the risk of espionage was considerable and so internment was understandable .A similar occurrence happened in Bingham to a German gentleman named Zigmund Gross who lived in a flat-roofed house on Tythby Road. He was said to be an eccentric who had little to do with anyone in the community. His house was the last one on the right going up the road, just before the railway bridge. People accused him of spying on trains, and he was interned, probably to the Isle of Man. He had no family.
Bingham appears to have escaped any air attack except one raid on 16th January - the year could be 1940, 41, 42 or 43 - but it was Frank Hardy’s birthday! A lone German Bomber dropped a stick of 12 bombs on Castle Hill, by High Westing Farm. No one was hurt but in a field by the Fosse Way a gate was blown off the cattle pen and all the animals were let loose. A water trough that had been by the cattle pen was blown quite a distance, finishing up by the main road. Keith Hammond, who lived at the farmhouse in Newgate Street remembers the family crowding under the kitchen table when the air raid warning sounded.
On another occasion, Walter Dawn, an ex WW1 veteran, was on his way home from work at Saxondale Hospital when, on Nottingham Road, he was targeted by a German aircraft. His training took over and dived into the roadside ditch and despite a broadside of machine gun bullets he survived. Enemy aircraft would follow our bombers home and endeavour to damage the air bases. Presumably, this was one of those.
Jill Kendrick remembers going with her father, who was the Chair of the Works Services department of the Invasion Committee, on his inspections of damage in the area. She cannot remember when this was, but one occasion, a mine had been dropped; they were amused by the farmer’s wife emptying her teapot in the crater.
There were a number of aircraft crashes in the area, mainly on training missions, but so far only two have been located within the parish boundaries. One in particular, a Wellington Bomber, took off from Cottesmore at 7.40 am on 21 December 1942 on a Navigation Training mission. A fire broke out in the starboard engine of such intensity that it burnt through its mountings and fell off. The aircraft crash landed at Whitefields Farm just west of Tythby Road at 10.30 am. The crew of five, Sergeants, Boyle, Tomlinson, Brown, Gray and Woods were all injured but survived the landing.
Tim Kendrick remembers this crash clearly. He lives in Canada now, but sent an email about it:
“I vividly remember watching from our house on Cherry Street as this aircraft passed low overhead, descending with its fabric-covered fuselage on fire along one side – an awful sight. I immediately jumped on my bike and found the crash somewhere beyond Mill Hill. By the time I reached it there was no sign of the crew who must have been taken away fast, dead or alive. The aircraft was by then a completely burnt-out wreck with some live .303 ammunition scattered around.”
His sister Jill remembers going there with him and in another email he says:
“The Wellington had an unusual construction: a geodesic aluminium alloy framework covered in fabric. This would explain why, although we must have arrived at the site soon after the crash, almost everything was completely burned to nothing.”
There are no photographs of this crash, but on 31st April 1941 another Wellington crashed outside the parish near Newton, but did not catch fire and is pictured here.
Another crash in Bingham Parish was an Oxford that came down near the railway station on 24 July 1945. So far, no one has come forward with memories of this one.
The Women’s Institute
Throughout the war the W.I. raised money for the local comforts fund by holding weekly whist drives and dances. The fund, administered by a joint committee representing Bingham & Saxondale, provided parcels for every Serviceman and woman from the two places. After the war each received a gift of £4 : 4s.[The returning soldiers’ fund described here. Other activities centered on the W.I. were annual egg collections for the Nottingham General Hospital, a potato growing scheme for the hospital, and numerous whist drives, dances etc., in support of the large number of charitable and welfare institutions which relied upon voluntary effort. Other notable events were National Savings campaigns, “Salute the Soldier” and “Wings for Victory “ campaigns, all in response to the Governments call for more and more savings.
A salvage drive involving children collecting almost anything that could be recycled for the war effort was a characteristic of the Second World War. Post-war retrospectives showed that some of the materials collected could not be used but the act of collecting it was excellent for morale in the community at large.
Photo: by permission of Greg Franks.
In June 1943 Wings for Victory week was devoted to raising money to build aircraft for the war effort. People were encouraged to buy War Bonds and National Savings Certificates. Raffles, concerts and other events were staged all over the country to raise money. It was a bleak time in the war and though the money was needed the boost to morale that this sort of communal effort provided was probably more important.
Photo: by permission of Greg Franks.
Prisoners of War
There was a small Prisoner of War camp at Saxondale crossroads, opposite the garage (later to become a squatter site), and a very much larger one near Belvoir Castle. Several German and Italian POWs were detailed as farm-hands in the area; concrete roads were laid with their help and a potato store was built by them at Starnhill Farm, the first of its kind in England. I (Eric Sharp) remember going out to Tythby Grange farm for a week in 1945. I was at school in Nottingham, and we were collected from outside our school every morning at 6 a.m. by bus, and brought out to the farm where we spent a very long day pea picking and potato picking. I recall quite clearly there were two Land Army girls, and two Italian Prisoners of War. The reason I remember so clearly is that whilst we were breaking our backs picking peas, or even worse potatoes, the Italian Prisoners-of-War spent their time chasing the Land Army girls around the barns, and all we got was 6d. an hour and 9d. an hour for overtime. But most of all we got a sense of worth, and plenty of fresh air!