I explained in my previous blogpost how The Smith family liked going to Blackpool for their holidays.
This photograph is my dad (Norman Buckle) with his father (Sidney Henry Buckle) on holiday. There are two tiny photos with it in the photo book captioned Cowes, Isle of Wight so I'm guessing that's where they went. I estimate that it would have been the later 1930s when this photo was taken as Norman looks as though he's still a schoolboy. Looks like it's typical British summer weather too.
Norman left school (Normanton Grammar School) in 1940 and went to work in an office. In his school magazine for the Summer Term 1940 there's a contribution from him:
Few of us will be going away for holidays this year for we carry out the "Go to It" slogan. We shall smell the Chemical Works rather than that "honest, seafaring smell compounded of tar, rope and fish, known to the educated as ozone" - (W.W. Jacobs)
We all know that intense feeling of satisfaction we have when we walk along the sea-front for the first time after twelve months and see Mr Spaghetti with his ice-cream in the usual place. If we were to go this year I'm afraid we should not see him as a friend but should miss him as an internee. Is "Punch and Judy" still there and does the conjuror still push swords through the lady in the cabinet?
We dream of nights with velvet skies, with a bright moon, thousands of twinkling stars, a low wind rustling the leaves, the rumble of the surf and a …….but never mind, let's leave it.
We remember the colossal suppers eaten in the ultra-modern restaurants which serve anything from a milk-shake to a four course dinner (including cheese and biscuits and all for 2/6!); the amusement arcades with their rows of 'Penny-in-the-Slot' machines; the crowds of people on the beach, including very stout ladies dressed in bathing costumes; the motion-picture machines, with very alluring pictures, around which crowds of weedy looking youths congregate; and of course we remember the old salt sitting in his boat, chewing thick twist and sending spurts of tobacco juice into the atmosphere with mechanical precision. But there will be no preparing to return home; no buying of presents; no pushing of dirty shirts and socks into a suitcase, and no feeling of sadness as the train steams out of the station carrying us home.
This year all will be changed "and they will beat their fishing rods into hayforks and their bathing costumes into farmers' smocks." Let us hope that next year we may return again to the seaside to pay one shilling to see Hitler in a glass case, fasting to death for a wager of five pounds.
[The "Go to It" slogan described those who were involved in the war effort on the home front.]
[The W.W. Jacobs quote is from a book titled "At Sunwich Port" written in 1902.]
Norman volunteered to join the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy in October 1942 and, after training, became a Radio Mechanic. He was sent to a naval air base in Sierra Leone, West Africa and later to a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean as part of the British Pacific Fleet.
When he returned from the war, one of the first things he did was to go on holiday: to Butlin's at Primrose Valley, Filey, Yorkshire.
I think he would have had plenty of money to spend on his holiday. On Ponam Island in 1945, where he was stationed, there was nothing for the servicemen to spend their money on. I read that they stashed most of their wages away in the Post Office Savings Bank and by the end of the war the 1,100 service personnel had accumulated £20,000 (almost half a million pounds in today's money) between them. Also at the end of the hostilities, once returned to the U.K., they were paid a gratuity (Certificate of Post-War Credit) and Norman got £63.19s. 6d (equivalent to £1600 to-day) although he had to pay his employer nearly ten pounds to make up for the pension contributions he'd missed while he was away with the Royal Navy.
At the start of the war, after he'd signed up, Norman went to Butlin's at Skegness in Lincolnshire. This wasn't for a holiday though; soon after war was declared the Royal Navy took over the holiday camp and turned it into a training base for new recruits. This was where Norman was sent for his induction training and from where he was allocated to the Fleet Air Arm. There's a great film clip of the training camp, which was known as H.M.S. Royal Arthur, on the Pathe News website.
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You might also like to read I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety Blog.