I've been scanning some pages from an autograph book my mum had in 1938 - 1939. It's rather worse for wear on the cover and some of the pages are falling out of the book. Many of the pages are written in pencil and too faded to be worth copying but the ones in ink are still clearly legible..
In 1938 my mum, Doreen Buckle, passed her eleven plus exam and was awarded a place at Normanton High School for Girls. Her aunts, who had no children of their own, said they would take responsibility for all the expenses of books, uniform, sports equipment etc. There were no fees to pay but the costs of all the extras were prohibitive for many children at the time.
Doreen commenced her education at her new school in September 1938 and during 1938 and on into 1939 she collected autographs from her family, friends and teachers.
Some of the entries are plain signatures but other contributors shared a rhyme or some words of wisdom.
It's worth remembering that WW2 was imminent and preparations were underway. One girl shared a drawing instead of a rhyme which shows that already the threat of war was very much in the minds of young people as well as adults.
Notice that she's written A.R.P at the top of the drawing. Air Raid Precautions was an organisation set up in 1937 dedicated to the protection of civilians from the danger of air raids. It included the Raid Wardens' Service that was to report on bombing incidents. Every local council was responsible for organising ARP wardens, messengers, ambulance drivers, rescue parties and liaison with police and fire brigades.
From 1 September 1939, ARP Wardens enforced the 'blackout'. Heavy curtains and shutters were required on all private residences, commercial premises, and factories to prevent light escaping and so making them a possible target for enemy bombers to locate their targets. With increased enemy bombing during the Blitz, the ARP services were central in reporting and dealing with bombing incidents. They managed the air raid sirens and ensured people were directed to shelters.
It was on September 30th 1938 (just a couple of weeks after my mum and her friends had started at their new secondary school) that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to Britain from his meetings with Adolf Hitler and declared "Peace for our time". A year later Britain was at war.
The photograph below was taken at Speech Day at Normanton High School for Girls at about this time. Strange to think that as the young people listened to the Headmistress and other worthy persons the country was at war. And to remember that those same young women are getting ready to celebrate their ninetieth birthdays if they're still with us today.
Thanks for reading my blog today. You can find more autographs in my Archives section.
You might also like my mum's 1947 Diary.
And you may be interested in one of my Family History ebooks I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm in WW2. More details and photos here.