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WINGS FOR VICTORY WEEK PENZANCE 1943

Discussion in 'Wartime' started by Halfhidden, Mar 28, 2016.

By Halfhidden on Mar 28, 2016 at 7:28 PM
  1. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    With these stirring words Air Vice Marshal V. P. Tait, C.B., 0.B. E., Director of Signals of the Royal Air Force, closed his appeal to the public of Penzance, St. Just, and West Penwith when he declared open their Wings for Victory Week outside the Municipal Buildings at Penzance on Saturday afternoon. The Air Vice Marshal had given a rousing address after what must have been a very arm aching afternoon, for he had taken the salute at one of the biggest processions ever seen in the town. Not only the biggest, but, by consensus of opinion, the best-organised a tribute, this, to the work as Marshal of the parade of Lt. Col. Lord St. Levan.

    In truth, it was a noteworthy occasion, and there were times when one almost forgot the purpose of the gathering, waiting for the arrival of the procession, and one's mind wandered back to the days of peace. ' Surely, at the very least, one thought, this must be a victory parade? Possibly, one may hope, a prelude to victory parade, but nothing further. But the great crowds of people, the atmosphere abroad, the flags of the children (would that there had been more elsewhere), the band of the D.C.L.I. playing stirring music while we waited all combined to dispel, for a moment, the thought of war.

    But only for moment. There, flying from the masthead was the Royal Air Force flag, a reminder of what had to be done during the coming week. Somehow or other, a quarter of a million pounds has got to be raised indeed, far more than that, for did not Camborne- Redruth, our greatest rivals, get more than £350,000?

    Overhead, aircraft roared, a second reminder that this was the opening day of " Wings for Victory" Week. Magnificent sights, as they curved and pirouetted about, swooping down here, rising at the last moment with full-throated abandon. Other wings were here, too wings of carrier pigeons, the first batch of which flew off just before the start of the proceedings, carrying their messages to other savings areas. For a moment they hovered in mid-air, as if to say, " Which way?"; then they sped swift and straight as an arrow towards their objectives. Later in the afternoon a large number of these birds was released and, with a mighty whirr of wings, they carried their greetings messages to all parts of the British Isles.

    Gathered on the terrace was a distinguished assembly representative of many facets of the life of West Cornwall, together with the Savings Committee members and others who had helped in the campaign. In the forecourt below, in a specially reserved enclosure, were the honorary group secretaries, pillars of the National Savings Movement, worthily occupying a place of eminence. Half-way down the steps was another notable group, among whom could be seen Mrs. E. H. W. Bolitho and Lady St. Levan, both in the uniform of the British Red Cross, of which they are President and Vice-President respectively for the County; the Mayoress (Mrs E. C. Harvey); Ald. J. Birch, J.P. (Chairman of the Savings Committee); Mr. W. J. Hichens, indefatigable honorary general secretary; Mr. G. W. Fenton, the hon. organiser, to whom much of the assured success of the week is attributable; Mr. D. Beattie (Town Clerk) and Mrs. Beattie; . Messrs. F. R. Jago and J. S. Jephcott (Deputy and Assistant Commissioners respectively of the National Savings Movement for the South-West; Col. Fox (hon. secretary of the St. Ives Savings Committee); Miss F. Dyer (hon. secretary of the Camborne-Redruth Savings Committee); and Lt.-Com. G. A. Dykstra, the Royal Netherlands Navy.

    Below them, waiting ready on the saluting base, was Air Vice-Marshal Tait, supported by the Lord-Lieut, of Cornwall (Lt.-Col. E. H. W. Bolitho, C. B., D.S.0.), the Mayor of Penzance (Ald. E. C. Harvey, J.P., President of the Savings Committee), Capt. Alec Beechman, M.C., Member of Parliament for the St. Ives Division; Commander C. H. Pilcher, D.S.0., R.N., Brigadier General. Croft, Lt.-Col. Lord St. Levan, Maj. Hare (Chief Constable of Cornwall), Lt.-Com. Jhr. Van Adrichem Boogaert (Royal Netherlands Navy); and other Service officers.

    A hush among the waiting crowd .... the sound of another band above the stirring march being played by the band of the D.C.L.I all eyes turn expectantly .... a white helmet appears in view another, and another .... and into' sight, preceded by their drum major performing feats of valour with his mace, swing the band of the Royal Marines.

    The D.C.L.I. band moves out and takes the head of the procession, whilst the Marines sweep into the enclosure, a majestic sight their white topees and smart red-braided blue uniforms, with the big drummer adorned with a superb leopard skin. This, surely, recalled the days of peace? It was a tonic to see a band dressed in its full regimentals, and the ovation the Marines received was a tribute befitting a fine performance, which their subsequent playing only enhanced. The Marines had set the standard —the rest of the parade did not let them down. It ' was a grand turn out, perfectly spaced so that one could fully observe each unit as it swung past the saluting-base, where the Air Vice-Marshal kept his hand moving unflaggingly up and down to the salute as each unit received the order " Eyes Right."

    First, came the Senior Service headed, of course, by a contingent of bluejackets marching with the traditional swing of the Royal Navy; then, to the plaudits of the crowd, the Royal Netherlands Navy, marching extremely smartly in a style of their own, a fine body of men, worthy Allies and inheritors of great maritime traditions: then the Penzance Sea Cadets, bearing themselves proudly among their seniors; and. lastly, a contingent of the men of the Penlee Penzance branch of the R.N.L.I.

    Less spectacular, but equally efficient, came the units of the Royal Artillery and the Devon Regiment, the former with several guns and vehicles; and then despatch riders. Special applause was reserved for the boys of the Truro Cathedral School Band, marching with perfect precision and a swing worthy of " Regulars." This boys band headed a large contingent of the Home Guard, presenting a smart appearance and gallantly upholding local prestige, and the Army Cadets.

    Then, another roar of approval from the crowd as a United States Army band, came into view, forty-five strong, leading the Royal Air Force. The Junior Service has established a quick tradition for extremely smart marching, and Saturday's display was no exception.

    The Royal Air Force unit was followed by the smart youngsters from the I.T.W., their white flashes standing out, the R.A.F. Regiment, the R.A.F. Sea Rescue Service, and the W.A.A.F.'s, the last-named, swinging along with the best, getting probably the warmest reception of the afternoon. After them came the airmen of the future, the A.T.C. units from Penzance, Devonport High School, and St. Just.

    Penzance Independent Band headed the last section, followed by the men's and women's sections the National Fire Service; the British Red Cross, pleasing sight in their scarlet cloaks; two nurses in the grey the Belgian Red Cross; the St. John Ambulance Brigade and Cadets, with the newly-formed girl cadets looking very smart their pale grey uniforms; the W.V.S.; the Girls Training Corps, very chic in their white blouses and blue skirts: Marazion Town Band; a large contingent of the various branches of the Civil defence Services; a series of fire-fighting vehicles. And that was all.

    Following the parade, the visiting troops, to the number some seven hundred, were entertained to tea in St. John's Hall.

    INSPIRING MESSAGES.
    The following messages Were read by. the Mayor prior the opening:

    From Lord Kindersley, President of the National Savings Movement: Warmest good wishes for the Penzance, St. Just and West Penwith 'Wings' Week. I ask everyone in your area to save and lend to the limit during this week, and so to make the final result a worthy 'tribute to our victorious Forces. Good luck'

    From Sir Kingsley Wood," Chancellor of the Exchequer:
    National Savings have a vital part to play in backing up the untiring courage of our gallant airmen. My best wishes for the success of Penzance, St. Just and West Penwith Wings for Victory Week.

    From Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air: Very best wishes for your Wings for Victory Week. More aircraft are needed for bombing the very heart of the Axis countries. We must save to pay for them. Roll out the aircraft.

    From M. Maisky, Soviet Ambassador to Great Britain: I send you every good wish for success in your efforts to raise funds for your "Wings for Victory" Week. A hard fight still lies ahead of us. and it is necessary for everyone to make what sacrifices are demanded to achieve the speediest victory over our common enemy.

    From Maj.-Gen. Ira Eakers, commanding U.S. Air Force in this country: Congratulations to Penzance, St. Just and West Penwith for your Wings for Victory, effort. As Commander of the American Air Force in England I have been privileged to sit beside and work with the leaders of your Royal Air Force for the last year and a half. I have also had the opportunity to visit most of the R.A.F. aerodromes and meet the wonderful R.A.F. fighting men of all ranks. You have every reason to be tremendously proud of them. Their work has won the admiration of all fighting men. Friend and foe alike acknowledge their prowess and supremacy. They saved this Island by their skill and daring, and now they are carving their names with bombs and bullets on the German war machine. Their greatest urge and incentive comes from the knowledge that the people of England are behind them to the last man and to the last shilling. Wings for Victory Week symbolizes that mutual confidence and inter-dependence. Tell your people that they hasten the victory when they provide ample ''Wings” for their deserving Royal Air Force.

    Declaring the Week open a rousing speech, Air Vice-Marshal Tait, who, together with the other speakers, was introduced by the Mayor, said: " At no time could you have chosen a better date. We are now in the middle of the greatest offensive air operations the world has ever seen. The United States Air Force and the R.A.F. are starting to go full out against the enemy." For some three years we had had to suffer the attack of the enemy, largely from the air. He had seen bomb damage at Penzance, and knew that they had suffered here and knew what bombing meant. But there is one thing we must always remember," he said, " that it was the enemy, the Hun, who started this indiscriminate bombing of our towns and cities. Now that we are beginning put it across him he is starting to squeal and to talk about the bombing of women and children.

    " Don't you believe it. When we bomb Germany we bomb her war industries."

    The Germans told us of the damage done to churches and of the killing women and children, but they did not tell us of the destruction of their war industries in the Ruhr, such as the Krupps' Works at Essen, or the electrical works at Berlin, and the dislocation to his railway and transport systems. Those were the targets the United States Air Force and the R.A.F. we’re going for.

    Comparing the weights of Axis and Allied air blows, the speaker said in the biggest of their attacks on this country the Axis Air Forces dropped a maximum in one night of 400 tons. Our air forces were returning the compliment with an appreciable dividend 2,000 tons of bombs had been dropped on Dortmund in a single night!
    To get a picture of what, that meant he said, it would as well to visualise a train made up of ten ton coal trucks. Our present average load of bombs dropped on Germany per week would fill 750 of these ten ton trucks!
    Inevitably these were losses, which there must be if the battle were be successful. But, stressed Air Marshal Tait. The figures of losses as shown in the Press did not say what percentage those losses represented. But he declared, he could tell them that the Percentage was no going up. The number of our Air Forces was increasing, But the percentage of losses was not increasing.

    The Allied Air Forces must have more weapons. We were through a great part of our struggle and were turning the corner, but we must not let up. We must increase our efforts. The crews of Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands were playing a magnificent part, in winging victory—our part was to give them the weapons to enable them to gain that victory. By investing our savings in " Wings for Victory” Week not only assisted the R.A.F., but were able to put money by for which there would be a need when there was something to buy again. Their target of £250,000 was a big one for such a town, but he felt sure they would make it and more.
    "If you will hit your target and provide the weapons for the R.A.F.," he concluded, the R.A.F. will carry out their part in hitting the targets in Germany."

    Appealing to the district to double its target, the Lord-Lieutenant said that was the third time they had been asked to hand their savings to the Government. He referred zestfully to the damage caused by the R.A.F. in the dam raid, and said that we had got to support them. The district had succeeded before, and would do so again. Truro, had set the pace for the "Wings" weeks in Cornwall; quite rightly, Penzance had come last, and was going to beat everyone else.

    Taking an apposite illustration from the Derby, the result of which had been announced short while previously, Col. Bolitho said that there must be a " Straight Deal " from the people of the district. He likened St. Austell and Camborne-Redruth, first and second at present in the Cornish " Wings total, to the placed horses in the Derby, but said that the Penzance area must win, not by a mere head, which would mean they reached £400,000 against St. Austell's £370,000, but by three-and-a-half lengths, making a total of £500,000.

    In today’s money that’s £21,250000 (Using the Historical UK inflation rates and calculator)
     

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Discussion in 'Wartime' started by Halfhidden, Mar 28, 2016.

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