For those of us who were not alive during the war it is difficult to understand quite how everyone managed to keep their spirits up for a period of six years with so many husbands and fathers away serving their country. I want to look back on one of those years – 1941 when Bristol was feeling the full force of the fire raid the German Luftwaffe was directing against this country.
In Timsbury there was the first public appearance of the Timsbury Ambulance Brigade. Resplendent in full uniform and equipment the Brigade gave a demonstration of first-aid work and was heartily congratulated on its efficiency and smartness by Mrs. Rees-Mogg who was Commandant of the Somerset Red Cross Society. Amongst those in attendance at the inspection which took place at the Temperance Hall were Sister Cox from Paulton Hospital, Rev. Rose, Mrs. Cox (representing Timsbury WVS) and Mr. A. Lewis (ARP Warden).
Timsbury had a mention in Parliament in March 1941. Mrs. Mavis Tate, the M.P. for Frome asked the War Secretary in the House of Commons whether he was aware that troops stationed at Timsbury House threw away a large proportion of the bread baked by the Army because it was inedible. She said that most of the men bought their bread from the village canteen and further added that the meat and vegetables served up to the men were equally unappetising. In reply the Financial Secretary, Mr. Law, claimed that despite enquiries he had been unable to find any grounds for these complaints.
A war of words broke out between two neighbouring communities. Tunley claimed to be one of the most patriotic villages in England because out of its 100 adult population 15 were in the forces, 25 in the Home Guard, 13 were ARP wardens, 40 were fire-fighters and 2 were Special Constables. However these claims upset Dunkerton who came out strongly in the newspapers to stress that at this difficult time all villages were doing their bit and it did Tunley no credit to boost themselves in the press!
Timsbury was set a target of £3000 during a special war weapons week and arrangements were in the hands of an enthusiastic committee led by the chairman Mr. Bob Pullen and the secretary Mr. Albert Lewis. The week’s activities which included a fancy dress parade and many other social events in fact raised £8100 and the village was congratulated on a magnificent effort
One young lad made his own contribution to missionary work in 1941. The annual rally of the Paulton Junior Missionary Association was held at South Road Methodist Church where it was announced that in 1940 £134 6s 3d had been collected with some going to overseas missions and some to home missions. A further sum of £4 8s 11d was collected by 9 junior box-holders with the highest collector a certain Ronald Sims who received a fourth bar to add to the medal already won.
A special football match was played in October 1941 between Timsbury and an Army XI. The report in the local newspaper concludes that the Timsbury team which lost 3-0 consisted mainly of old players out of practice who were not sufficiently fit to show their real ability. However it was a thoroughly enjoyable game played in front of a large number of spectators with Harold Purnell and Jack Hasell outstanding for the home team with Bernard Adams in goal making some brilliant saves. The full Timsbury side was B. Adams(Sen.), B. Jeffery, J. Hasell, H. Purnell, A. Newman, A. Tucker, B. Adams (Jun.), L. Pickford, D. Bridges and H. Hasell. The referee was Mr. I. Roberts.
Finally Christmas 1941 was to be a fairly austere time. In accordance with government orders only Christmas Day would be regarded as a public holiday and Post Offices and Banks would be open as usual on Boxing Day. Most North Somerset families would miss their traditional Christmas ham as supplies of bacon and ham were being strictly controlled and rationed. Letters and parcels would be delivered on Christmas Day. However Radstock Co-op promised a Christmas as usual with no ration coupons being necessary for the Christmas spirit. The Co-operative Society, it claimed, was overflowing with it!