Todmorden Antiquarians: Sharing memories of the Second World War

A classroom in 1939 with children practising how to use their gas masks
A classroom in 1939 with children practising how to use their gas masks

Todmorden Antiquarian Society’s chairman, Catherine Emberson, introduced our meeting on Tuesday 15t November as being most appropriate in the days following the annual Remembrance Services. Our vice-chairman Robert Priestley then co-ordinated an evening of WW2 memories by Antiquarian members.

Robert himself told many tales of when he was a small boy.

He clearly remembers gas-mask practices at Roomfield School.

He also told us about the German prisoners-of-war, coming daily from Accrington, to work on the foundation layout of roads on Cross Lee hillside in readiness for the Ashenhurst home building scheme.

Robert hesitantly became friendly with the foreign soldiers and one told him that he was ‘a clever little boy’!

Fortunately, Todmorden town suffered little wartime bomb damage.

The memories of those Antiquarian members born before WW2 centred upon their being issued with essential child-sized gas-masks, rationing and the lack of certain foodstuffs such as oranges.

Also with the war-time blackouts when Home Guard wardens patrolled the local streets.

We also heard tales of Government messages for economy and thrift, with ‘Mrs Sew and Sew’ recommending make-do and mend habits. One dramatic story told of a member’s own uncle in enemy territory being hidden and passed secretly homeward bound by the French Resistance movement to eventually reach England safely.

The next meeting of Todmorden Antiquarian Society at the end of the month was due to hear our own member, Geoff Boswell, present ‘Waymarkers’.

Geoff is an experienced walker in our stunning local countryside, a talented photographer and has written several books.

Visitors are always welcome to attend our monthly meetings at Todmorden Town Hall ,

Admission is £3 at the door.