February 2017

KIRTON AND FALKENHAM WI


Birthday meeting: Thursday March 9th at 2.00pm in Kirton and Falkenham Village Hall.
Entertainment: Don's Melody Makers. Wear a hat to support the Brain Tumour Association.
No Competition
Trading Stall: miscellaneous

FEBRUARY MEETING REPORT 2017
Last Thursday we waited for our speaker to arrive. As the minutes ticked by and he did not turn up we wondered how we were going to fill the time at our disposal. However, as the subject of the talk he was supposed to be giving concerned residents of Ipswich who had done brave deeds during the 2nd World War several of us had brought mementoes in the form of medals won by our relatives. We were therefore invited to tell the stories that lay behind them.

I went first and gave an account of my father, who, although in a reserved occupation (teaching), decided to join the air-force in 1943 and was trained as a navigator on a Mosquito fighter/bomber. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross, probably for patrolling the beaches above the D-Day landings. Besides bringing his medal I had also brought his log book which showed that, at one point, he flew from an airfield at Kirton (must have been Kirton, Lincolnshire). There is also an entry for March 1945 which says: 'Chase after very fast aircraft. No contact obtained. Probably jet'. Didn't realise jets went back that far!

Maddy came next and talked about her father, Don Haste, a gunner in the Merchant Navy. Don joined up, aged 19, at the beginning of the war, but found time to get married in 1942. His purser donated a box of tinned food for the wedding reception which he then managed to leave in a station waiting room. Maddy brought several medals that he had won for service in various places around the world; in fact he visited all seven continents. At one point his ship was torpedoed and sunk and, although he was rescued, he lost all his possessions. Among these was the address of some aunts who were living in New Zealand at the time, so, when he went there, he decided to put an ad in a local newspaper. This did the trick and he had a family reunion.

After that Iris told us a little about living in wartime Felixstowe with her mother and sister when she was about 3 years old while her father drove lorries in the Transport Core. As far as she can remember it was believed that Felixstowe was in danger of immanent invasion and, as a consequence, the civilian population was warned that, if it happened, they must not try to leave as the road and rail links into the town would be needed for the opposing troops. She can also remember that, one night, her mother was scared to death when she looked out of an upstairs window and saw the sea apparently on fire. This was probably some defensive stratagem which employed barrels of burning oil floating in the water.

Lastly Elizabeth shared an amazing story concerning a member of her Jewish family, her aunt, who, before the war, had married a Frenchman, following which they opened a café in Toulouse. When the war started they stayed put and even carried on during the German occupation. Their café was unfortunate enough to find itself next door to Gestapo headquarters and this was even more hazardous as she and her husband were helping the Resistance and hiding fugitive British airmen in the loft which stretched across both premises. One day a German came into the café when, very pregnant, she was sitting darning a pair of socks belonging to one of the airmen. Quickly she put the work underneath her and picked up some knitting she was doing for the prospective baby, apologising at the same time for not getting up due to her condition. Her next-door-neighbour waved her regrets aside with Teutonic politeness!

V E Bines