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Blandford in World War Two - I


Day War broke out

On the 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. But what was life like at the time, in Blandford and in the surrounding villages? At first, despite the outbreak of war, things continued as normal.

The Somerset & Dorset Railway was offering cheap excursion fares to Bournemouth and Bristol, the latter including entry to the zoological gardens. A cheap half-day return ticket to Bournemouth cost two shillings and one penny (10p). While the all-inclusive Bristol fare was only two shillings and eleven pence (15p). Perhaps travelling by rail rather than by road was safer in September 1939 as there were two serious local road accidents. While riding his bicycle in Blandford, a 17 year-old milk roundsman was killed at the bottom of White Cliff Mill Street when he was hit by a car driven by a Stourpaine man. The coroner reckoned it was an accident caused by the recently introduced wartime requirement for car lights to be dimmed. While just outside Long House Dairies in Pimperne there was a triple accident. A 25 year-old Bournemouth bus driver was fined one pound with costs for driving a bus without care and attention. Two buses and a car were involved in the collision.

At their meeting the Blandford Rural District Council announced no change in the half-year rate while the chairman reported his intention to recruit a minutes & finance clerk to be paid an annual £240 salary.

Gas Masks

Outbreak of war had begun to be evidenced in the columns of local newspaper, the Western Gazette. Because both the Germans and the Allies had used poison gas during World War I, there was an expectation it would be used against the local population. An angry letter to the newspaper’s editor complained not a single person in the village of Templecombe had been issued with a gas mask. The new term was beginning at Clayesmore School with 37 new boys and the war saw the loss of several masters to military service.

(to be continued)


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