Knottingley and Ferrybridge Online West Yorkshire
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Wartime Memories



Conflict is fuelled by finance so it is unsurprising that following the outbreak of war in 1939, local savings committees were established to encourage people to curb personal expenditure and invest surplus cash in the National War Savings Scheme in order to assist the cost of the war. (1) Not that much encouragement was necessary for in addition to the flush of patriotic fervour the effect of material shortages and rationing made spending on all but basic necessities increasingly difficult.

To focus public attention and engender a feeling of direct participation by local communities in the war drive, the government sponsored War Savings Movement identified specific areas of activity and requested local authorities to designate one particular week in each year, usually one in springtime, a ‘War Savings Week’. Thus, throughout the duration of the war nationally led, regionally co-ordinated and locally organised campaigns such as ‘War Weapons Week’, ‘Wings For Victory’, ‘Salute The Soldier’ and ‘Warship Week’, enabled the public to respond to the challenge to meet financial targets set by local committees and based upon the presumed economic capability of each local community.

At Knottingley, immediately prior to Savings Week, a platform was erected at the front of the Town Hall. Twice daily, at lunchtime and early evening, the Chairman of Knottingley Urban District Council and associated dignitries would assemble and announce to the eagerly awaiting audience which invariably gathered for the occasion, how much had been donated to the cause that day.

To the rear of the platform, affixed to the façade of the Town Hall, was a board with a series of spaced markings, rather like those on a thermometer or barometer, culminating in the targeted amount at the top. A moveable indicator was reset to public acclamation as the marker daily edged nearer to the top and the attainment of the financial target.

A War Savings Committee was established at Knottingley in November 1939 (2) with Mr. S.S. Birdsall as the Hon’ Secretary, (3) its function being to encourage the purchase of War Savings Certificates and War Bonds at fixed rates of interest for investment over a specifically stated period. The success of the committee may be judged by comparison of the figures below:

8 weeks ending 24-February-1940

War Savings Certificates £2,242
Defence Bonds £1,735
Total £3,977 (4)

5 weeks ending 30-March-1940

War Savings Certificates £3,436
Defence Bonds £   165
Bank & Post Office Deposits £   889
Total £4,490 (5)

At the end of March 1940, the total amount since the inauguration of the campaign was £17,313. (6) Meanwhile, efforts were being made at both local and national level to make the fund raising appear more purposeful. A ‘Spitfire Fund’ was launched with whist drives and other loosely structured events being held for the purpose of the sponsoring of an aircraft by each locality. (7) A more elaborate and concentrated scheme was undertaken later however, with the introduction of the nationally observed ‘War Weapons Week’. The scheme was launched at Pontefract during the week 11th – 18th January 1941, being the first such event in the country. The Borough target was £300,000 but this sum was passed by Tuesday and in the course of the week over £400,000 was raised. (8)

Pontefract’s effort set the standard for the nation and Knottingley folk, loath to be outdone per capita by their bigger neighbour, pledged to raise £87,000 even before the commencement of its own ‘War Weapons Week’, thereby encouraging the Regional National Savings Association to fix a target for the town of £120,000. (9)

With its long maritime tradition, Knottingley sought to obtain sufficient funds to cover the cost of four torpedo boats and torpedoes. (10) An idea of the scale of cost involved may be gained by reference to an advertisement for Castleford’s Savings Week which took place later in the year, viz:-

Battleship £8,000,000
Large Destroyer £450,000
Submarine £350,000
Bomber Plane £20,000
Heavy Ack Ack Gun £6,000
Fighter Plane £5,000
Light Ack Ack Gun £3,000
Torpedo £2,000
Searchlight Projector £1,500
Barrage Balloon £700
Machine Gun £100
1,000 rds Ammunition £5-10-0

By mid-February 1941, preparations were well advanced with plans for poster, essay and other school competitions. By that time two thirds of the target had already been pledged and the district which had since 1937 included Ferrybridge, was canvassed under the direction of the two Area Secretaries, Mr. E. Treadgold at Knottingley and Rev. A.G. Shipley at Ferrybridge, with prominent citizens being earmarked in an effort to secure the outstanding £40,000. (12)

Minor events were already underway with a whist drive and dance organised by Knottingley’s Womens’ Voluntry Service in Christ Church Parish Room at which prizes worth £27 were given in the form of National Savings Certificates. (13)

The events of the various War Savings Weeks obviously required much advanced planning and no little effort to implement. In this respect the contribution of the Ladies Organisations, particularly that of the W.V.S cannot be overstated for with so many men away on active service the organisation and execution of whist drives, concerts, dances and kindred activities to raise funds and morale fell in disproportionate measure upon the ladies of the district.

A large advertisement on the front page of the local paper proclaimed the advent of ‘War Weapons Week’ to be held at Knottingley from the 15th – 22nd March 1941. (14) On the opening Saturday plans for an opening day ceremony at the War Memorial were abandoned and the opening event took place in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, outside of which a captured German Messerschmidt was proudly displayed. Within the Council Chamber, civic dignitries and representatives of local business and social organisations, together with regional and local Savings Association officials and civil defence personnel gathered. (15) Telegrammes were read from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, and from Major Walter Morris, the Regional Commissioner for National Savings. In performing the opening ceremony, Dr. S.B. Bagley recalled the £50,000 which the townsfolk had raised during the Great War. The gathering was surrounded by an exhibition staged by the Yorkshire Evening News of relics, trophies and photographs of the Crimean, Boer and Great Wars, and in the Parish Room of Christ Church a display of posters designed by local school children was arranged.

In setting the indicator at £80,000 on Saturday evening the Town Clerk, Mr. Walter Berry, pointed out that the figure surpassed the total for the entire weeks effort during the Great War.

A Church Parade and Service were featured events on Sunday. After the Service at St. Botolph’s Church, conducted by Rev. A.G. Shipley, the parade formed. Led by Knottingley Silver Prize Band and followed by a contingent of Police under the supervision of Superintendent A. Elliott, Civic Officials, Fire Brigade, Auxiliary Fire Service, Observer Corps, St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and Members of The War Savings Committee they marched through the town and thence to the War Memorial. At the Memorial the Salute was taken by Lt. Colonel C.E. Barrington M.C., and the K.U.D.C. Chairman Cllr. A. Braim, accompanied by Cllr. J. Jackson J.P. The Ferrybridge representatives of the Council, members of the War Savings Sub-Committee, local Air Raid Protection personnel and representatives of other social groups attended a similar service held in Ferrybridge.

On Monday, the Y. E. News exhibition was formally opened by Cllr. Jackson Morris and Cllr. Braim set the target indicator that evening, revealing the days total as £12,300.

Tuesday saw the distribution of prizes for the schools competition in the form of National Savings Stamps and that evening Mr. P. Bagley advanced the indicator by a further £17,401. During the day a gun drill display by a field battery of the Royal Artillery took place at Ferrybridge Square witnessed by a large crowd.

A feature of Wednesday’s activities was the performance by the band of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Regiment which entertained the public with selections of popular music. The total at the end of that day was £11,050 enabling Cllr. Davis of Ferrybridge to set the indicator at £101,156-10-0., a figure greeted with loud applause by a large assembly and accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets. (16)

Entertainments during the week included numerous whist drives, a concert by Miss E. Green’s Dancing School consisting of two performances at the Wesley Hall which raised £20, and a display in Knottingley Playing Fields by locally stationed military. The latter event was so realistic that staff at a nearby school thought an air raid was in progress and led their pupils into the school air raid shelters.

On Thursday, the indicator was set by Cllr. P. Gross and the following evening by Miss D. Arnold, local W.V.S. Organiser. Rev. A.G. Shipley, accompanied by members of the War Savings Committee, councillors and selected town dignitaries, set the indicator on the second Saturday marking the formal closure of the War Savings Week. However, the final setting of the indicator took place on the following Monday when to the acclamation of a large crowd, Mr. E. Treadgold reset the indicator to include late donations. (17)

Among the large donors were the K.U.D.C. with £5,000; Midland Bank, £2,500; Lloyds Bank, £2,000, Messrs Hart Moss & Co., Sheffield, £1,500 and Pontefract General Infirmary, £1,000. At a more humble level were contributions by street savings groups and public houses and £100 from local A.R.P. posts. Schoolchildren’s efforts were also encouraged, each school in the district being open in turn throughout the week to enable parents to visit and use the services provided by the school banks. (18)

In early April the Knottingley War Savings Committee received two telegrams of congratulation, one from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and another from Major Morris M.C. The latter read:

"Please convey to all honorary workers the very sincere thanks of the National Savings Committee for a magnificent show during Knottingley War Savings Week."

At that time small sums were still being subscribed. During the week ending 9th April, the sum of £14-5-7d was collected of which sum the local Committee despatched £10 to the Red Cross and £4-5-7 to Pontefract Infirmary, (19) all such ‘casual’ savings in general having been forwarded to the Exhequer as ‘free gifts’ (1.e. money dontaed to the war effort free of interest).

The pressure on the public to subscribe via small savings towards the cost of the war was not merely confined to the annual major event designated as War Savings Week. Other campaigns such as ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Merchant Navy’ weeks took place between times. Typical of such activities was the ‘Tanks For Attack’ campaign of 1942. Under this government sponsored scheme each local authority was ‘awarded’ a number of tanks which could be named by the town or district savings committee if a pre-set financial target was met.

The response at Knottingley was initially sluggish compared with the effort the previous year. In 1941 the total saved was £9,729, a per capita sum of two shillings and sixpence per week over the ten week period. By 1942, with the fear of imminent invasion gone and replace by a degree of war-weariness, the set aim to increase the small savings of the previous year by 20% met with a limited response. Details posted in the front window of the Town Hall revealed that despite an increase on the corresponding period in 1941, the target set for the first week was not met. The percentage deficiency therefore pushed the final target well beyond the original 20%. (20)

The following year was designated ‘Warship Week’. On Wednesday 21st January the local Savings Committee met to discuss steps to be taken for ‘Warship Week’ which was to be held from the 28th February to the 7th March 1942.

Again the emphasis was on the women’s groups to organise whist drives and other efforts designed to raise ‘free gifts’ which were to be sent to the Prime Minister. It was considered that such gifts would be recognised more appropriately if presented at a dance in the Town Hall marking the culmination of the week’s efforts. The dance was to be organised by the local W.V.S. with any profit from the dance being donated to a war charity. (21)

The pattern of events during ‘Warship Week’ generally followed that of the previous year when plans were finalised and announced to the public at the end of January. The week’s proceedings were to commence with the opening ceremony at the Town Hall, performed by Sir Charles Davies of Leeds, and following Divine Service at the Ropewalk Methodist Church on the Sunday morning, a Church Parade was to take place. Representatives of local businesses and social organisations were again invited to participate in the daily events to be held throughout the week. A themed exhibition of naval paintings was planned for display in the Council Chamber and in response to an offer by the Nostak School of Dancing, it was announced that a pantomime was to be performed during the week in question. (22)

By mid February the plans for the naval exhibition had been extended to include models and illustrations of ships belonging to local residents and a public appeal was made via the local paper for donation of such items. The same issue requested all branches of the Civil Services, Home Guard, British Legion, Publicans, and Savings Groups, together with individual residents to

"hold some little [fund-raising] effort."

The proceeds from which would form the basis of the ‘free gift’ scheme. (23)

A target of £55,000 was set initially which was to provide the cost of a hull for a corvette. (24) Some last minute revision obviously took place however, for a news item in the Pontefract and Castleford Express which carried a large advertisement encouraging people to save towards the cost of the corvette hull stated that while the targeted amount remained the same

"the object will now be a trawler / minesweeper." (25)

The local Home Guard, selected to form the guard of honour at the opening ceremony were reported to be

"practising drill assiduously"

and the official programme of events was stated to be ready for distribution to all households in Knottingley and Ferrybridge. (26)

While preparations were in hand for ‘Warship Week’ at Knottingley simultaneous activities were being undertaken in neighbouring towns and villages. Pontefract aimed to collect £200,000 and ‘adopt’ the submarine ‘Unique’. (27) Castleford, more ambitiously, aimed to raise a quarter of a million pounds to pay for a submarine hull. (28) Smaller settlements naturally had more modest targets. Brotherton with Sutton aimed at £4,500, a sum achieved by the Friday of their ‘Warship Week’, the final total being almost £6,000 of which Byram cum Sutton had contributed £2,200. (29) Burn district (Osgoldcross) sought to save £30,000, the cost of the hull of a motor launch. By mid week that target was attained and efforts were being made to raise £50,000 to cover the cost of the launch’s machinery, the entire cost of such a vessel being £76,000. (30) Rothwell sought to raise £70,000 to pay for a motor torpedo boat (31) while at Ackworth the target was attained prior to the commencement of the village ‘Warship Week’ (32)

Brief reports provide glimpses of the type of fund-raising efforts undertaken at Knottingley. The Air Raid Wardens of Shepherds Bridge observation post raised £7 by means of a whist drive. A similar effort organised by Mrs. Branford and Mrs. Hanner at Spring Croft raised £1-10-0. (33) Throughout ‘Warship Week’ a mobile cinema van toured areas of the town and together with the nautical display in the Town Hall, raised funds via casual donations. (34) Other events which boosted funds by means of a ‘silver collection’ included displays in the Town Hall by the local Boys Brigade and members of Norther Command Young Soldiers Training Camp. (35)

On the Monday evening of ‘Warship Week’, Miss Millie Kitson and Friends entertained a large audience in the Town Hall with oerformances of ‘Babes in the Wood’ an effort which realised the sum of £55. (36) On Thursady and Saturday, Miss Green’s ‘Tickety-Bo’ concert party, largely drawn from the workforce of Messrs Gregg & Co., glass manufacturers, also provided entertainment for a public seeking light-hearted relief from the cares and anxieties of a war the duration and even the outcome of which was by no means certain at that time. (37)

In an effort to stimulate interest in war savings the local committee devised three competitions. A slogan competition was open to public participation with prizes in National Savings Certificates or Savings Stamps to the value of 15s, 10s, 7s 6d, and 2s 6d. A painting competition with similar prizes for children eleven and over, and another for children under eleven, with slightly smaller prizes, were featured. A shop window display in an Aire Street shop contained a hidden ‘mystery’ item which observers had to identify, was the final competition. (38)

The financial aspects of ‘Warship Week’ culminated in a whist drive and dance at the Town Hall. Arranged by the local W.V.S., with music provided by a local detachment of the Royal Arms Service Corps (by permission of Major H.C. Stenhouse), the dance was the focal point of the ‘free gift’ scheme.(39) The sum of £272-18-9 was donated, with £108-10-0 being contributed from the dance. Other significant contributions were £35 from Miss Kitson, (Nostak School of Dance) and £28 from Mr. Robertson (of the ‘mystery’ competition). (40)

On the civic side, the opening ceremony on Saturday 28th February, began when Sir Charles and Lady Davies took the platform in front of the Town Hall accompanied by Cllr. Jackson Morris, Chairman, K.U.D.C., (also President of the local War Savings Committee), Councillors and distinguished guests including Dr. S. B. Bagley and Mr. H. Lyon J.P. and members of the local War Savings Committee led by Cllr. Burton Arnold, Chairman of the Savings and ‘Warship Week’ committees, and including Mr. E. Treadgold, the Hon’ Secretary. Telegrams were read from the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. A.V. Alexander, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood and the Regional Commissioner-War Savings Movement, Major Morris. It was stressed that Yorkshire was the second best region nationally for the provision of war savings (a somewhat back-handed compliment but also a spur to native ‘Tykes’, used to taking first place in everything).

Dr. Bagley proposed a vote of thanks stating that the price of victory was sacrifice and that

"He who relaxes helps the Axis."

(clearly Dr. Bagley had been inspired by the slogan competition) Dr. Bagley’s remarks were seconded by Mr. Lyon.

The Guard of Honour under the command of Captain J.K Pollitt, escorted the distinguished guests as Cllr. J. Morris set the indicator at £21,000.

The following morning a Church Parade, led by the Knottingley Silver Prize Band and comprising numbers of the local Civil Defence Services and sundry town-based organisations, marched past the War Memorial where the salute was taken by Cllr. Morris and Major G.H. Gilby, the Rev. J.G. Radford preached on the subject of ‘The Moral Use of Force’

By Monday the indicator showed £40,192 and the weeks target was passed on Tuesday when Cllr. H. Gregg set the pointer at £61,204. The local Savings Committee therefore revised the target, aiming for £120,000, the complete cost of the ship allocated to the town for adoption, ‘H.M.S. Kennet’.(41) When Mr. C. Pickering, Manager, Midland Bank Ltd., set the indicator on the Friday the figure stood at £116,049 and the following day when Mrs. Mollett, Supervisor of the local first-aid post, raised the pointer, it showed that the original target of £55,000 had been more than doubled. Cllr. Reynolds announced the weeks contributions and Mr. R.D. Plant, Assistant Regional Savings Commissioner, congratulated the people of Knottingley on their response to the call.

The local community as doubtless encouraged by the emphasis placed on the towns maritime tradition by two of the speakers during the daily ceremonies. On the Thursday, Mr. E.K. Thirkettle, a director of the local shipbuilding firm, John Harker & Co. Ltd., recalled that ships bound for the Crimean War almost a century earlier, had been built at Knottingley and expressed his pride that the town was still playing its part in that respect. Mr. Pickering, speaking more generally, said that whereas in 1940 the nation was air-minded and in 1941, tank-minded, in 1942 events (such as the battle with the U Boats in the Atlantic) had made people aware of the importance of sea power. For her part, Mrs. Mollett, stressed the role of women in the war, stating her pride in both the town and its womenfolk. (42)

Including late donations, a total of £14-10-8d per head of population was attained which whilst less per capita than was obtained the previous year, was still an outstanding effort by a war-weary community just beginning to glimpse the ‘bright sunlit uplands’ but still haunted by anxieties and uncertainty.

The list of corporate subscribers shows the following contributions to Knottingley’s ‘Warship Week’

Leeds Permanent Building Society £5,000
Leeds Provident Building Society £5,000
Carter’s Knottingley Brewery Co. Ltd. £3,000
York County Savings Bank £3,000
Pontefract Co-Op Wholesale Society Ltd. £3,000
Pearl Insurance Co. £2,750
Barclays Bank Ltd. £2,500
Midland Bank Ltd. £2,500
Britannic Assurance Co. Ltd. £2,000
Yorkshire Insurance Co. Ltd. £1,000
Wesleyan General Ass’ Co. Ltd. £ 200
Bagley’s Recreation Club £ 100
Knottingley & Ferrybridge Forces Welfare £ 20

The final tally, announced by Cllr. J. Morris at the winding up meeting of the ‘Warship Week’ Committee was £128,601-6s-9d. (inclusive of ‘free gifts’) Cllr. Morris also reported a congratulatory telegram from Sir Kingsley Wood. The sum of £6-9-8 from the display in the Town Hall was donated to the Shipwrecked Mariners Society. (43)

‘Wings For Victory’ was the tile bestowed on the 1943 Savings Week. In January the local War Savings Committee held its monthly meeting and drew up a suggested programme of events. Proposals included a R.A.F. exhibition with locally made model aeroplanes, a concert, darts competition, dances, youth quiz, whist drives and display by R.A.F./W.A.A.F. personell, together with various competitions. The Hon’ Secretary Cllr. A. Reynolds stated that the Committee intended to present a library of 200-250 new books for use by the R.A.F. (44) At that time no target had been set but by mid February a full programme of events was announced and programmes were being prepared for printing and distribution. (45) A large notice in the ‘Express’ at the end of February stated ‘Wings For Victory’ Week would take place from the 13th - 20th March 1943, the target for Knottingley being £60,000. (46) A second public notice however, gave a revised sum of £80,000, this being the cost of two Halifax bomber aircraft. (47)

Before the designated week was half over the town was three quarters of the way to attaining the set target. On opening day more than £3,000 was subscribed, the indicator being set at £30,217 by Squadron Leader R. C. Bryant who was the guest invited to perform the opening ceremony. Events followed the now well established pattern, the guest of honour being accompanied by the Regional Commissioner, War Savings Association, an R.A.F. padre, the Rev. J.H. Eckersley, Station Officer Cooper of the W.A.A.F.. Dr. Bagley represented the local business community and the K.U.D.C. Chairman, Cllr L. Creaser who was also the President of the Local Savings Committee, was accompanied by the Town Clerk, Mr. A. Berry, and Council members of whom Cllr. B. Arnold was Chairman of the local Savings Committee. The Rev. Walter Musgrave, Vicar of Knottingley, was also included in the platform party.

Public entertainment’s during the week included a music concert on Saturday afternoon, given by the band of the Lancashire Regiment, and a dance in the Town Hall that evening. An exhibition of pictures and models were arranged in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall and a second exhibition of pictures only was displayed in Christ Church Parish Room.

Sunday featured a Civic Service at St. Botolph’s Church at which Rev. Eckersly preached the sermon, a collection being taken on behalf of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. The Church Parade marched from the Ropewalk to the War Memorial at which the salute was taken by Captain E.B. Briggs R.A.S.C., accompanied by Cllr. L. Creaser, County Councillor Burton Arnold and S.O. Cooper. The parade was led by Knottingley Silver Prize Band, followed by contingents of Civil Defence, Police and other auxiliary forces and local organisations. A Youth Rally and concert was held in the Town Hall that evening with an address given by Mr. H. B. Fox, School Inspector. A further collection in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent fund was taken and raised the sum of £7.

On Monday the indicator showed £51,678 when set by the Town Clerk and the total had reached £72,343 when Squadron Leader Bryant set the pointer. That evening an entertainment by a R.A.F. concert party raised £23-10-0. A darts championship and whist drive were features of Tuesday’s activities but the emphasis was very much on youth, reflecting perhaps the real as well as symbolic youthfulness of the R.A.F. personnel, with a Youth Dance in the Town Hall that evening. Also throughout the day a mobile cinema van visited local schools. (48)

The target of £80,000 was reached by Thursday when the indicator was set at £83,678 by an air gunner of the bomber crew which had visited Vale School earlier that day. A large crowd had been thrilled to witness a salute to the local inhabitants as three Halifax bombers flew over the town at one point in the days proceedings. A feature of Thursday evening was a whist drive held in the Town Hall with the proceeds being given to the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. Mr. E. Treadgold, headmaster of Weeland Road Junior School, in his capacity as Hon’ Secretary of the local War Savings Committee, was largely responsible for an initiative whereby the public was encouraged to donate books, jig-saws and games for use by members of the armed forces. The writer well remembers when, as a pupil of the school, a scheme was launched by which the pupils were given badges of military rank according to the number of books brought to school for donation to the servicemen. Anyone donating a hundred books was designated as a general whilst more modest donations accorded a more humble rank to be conferred upon the donor. Naturally, there was much effort and great rivalry but few pupils attained officer rank. (49)

Friday. The bomber crew visited Weeland Road school and that day a crew member set the target indicator at £92,402. That evening saw the final of the darts championship and also a children's fancy dress competition which raised £9-10s-9d.

The weeks activities culminated on Saturday with a gym display and boxing tournament with blindfolded contestants by the local Boys Brigade, and a display of dancing by pupils of Miss Bentley which drew the sum of £5-12s-9d. by casual collection. The final Saturday was marked by the presentation of competition prizes by Flight Officer Dent. Cllr. Creaser set the indicator before presenting the library of books to Squadron Leader Eckersley. Mr. R.D. Plant, the Assistant Commissioner of the National Savings Association, thanked the townsfolk, stating that the total amount donated throughout the war to that point by the people of the Knottingley / Ferrybridge district was £541,434, a proud record which ensured the name of the town on the Yorkshire Championship flag, a duplicate copy of which he presented to Cllr. Creaser. For some inexplicable reason, a final dance for the ‘Wings of Victory’ Week was held in the Town Hall on the following Wednesday evening. The final total realised by the town that year was £102,683, more than £20,000 above the original target. (50)

‘Salute The Soldier’ was the theme of 1944 War Savings Week, quite appropriate given the anticipated assault on mainland Europe, which took place on the 6th June that year.

The target for Knottingley district was fixed at £69,000, the general aim being to equip a base hospital (again an echo of the anticipated casualties consequent on the invasion of Europe). Details concerning the cost of various items of equipment were forwarded from the regional office of the War Savings Movement early in the year to enable local committees to compile ‘packages’ compatible with assessments of local financial potential. (51) it is of passing interest to compare Knottingley’s target with those of other neighbouring authorities. Hemsworth Rural District Council sought to obtain £150,000 through the efforts of its constituent elements viz:-

South Elmsall & South Kirkby £70,000
Grimethorpe £20,000
Ackworth £15,000
Havercroft and Ryhill £12,000
North Elmsall & Upton £10,000
Great Houghton £ 5,000
Shafton £ 4,000
Hessle, Hill Top, Huntwick & Nostell £ 4,000
Thorpe Audlin & Wentbridge £ 1,250
Walden Stubbs £ 500 (52)

While some other rural communities were still to fix a target, Osgoldcross had set one for £25,000 (53) and a similar amount was fixed for Featherstone. (55) The target at Castleford was £200,000 (56) and that of Pontefract, £167,376. (57)

Once again casual donations were to be forwarded to the Prime Minister as ‘free gifts’ and by February collections had commenced, the contribution of a tea-cosy as a raffle prize by Miss Beryl Rathmell being the first of many donations to raise funds for the cause. (58)

An interesting feature of the 1944 event was the acceptance by Knottingley district of a challenge by Stanley, Near Wakefield, to raise more money than themselves during ‘Salute The Soldier’ Week and street savings groups in Knottingley and Ferrybridge in turn challenged local factories and businesses to follow their example by aiming for a minimum per capita figure of £5. (59)

‘Salute The Soldier’ Week began on Saturday 22nd April 1944, when the opening ceremony was conducted by Lord Harewood, accompanied on the platform by Cr. J.T. Fallas, Chairman of K.U.D.C., Cr. A. Reynolds, President of the local Savings Committee and Mr. E, Treadgold, the Hon’ Secretary. Also in attendance were Mr. R.C.H. Hammond, Regional Commissioner National Savings and the local committee chairman, Cr. B. Arnold, and Dr. S.B. Bagley J.P., together with several other councillors and dignitaries.

Members of the A.T.S. and Home Guard were on parade and were inspected by Lord Harewood who was dressed in khaki uniform. Music was performed by the band of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Regiment, conducted by Mr. (sic) H. Ivernay.

Introducing the distinguished guest, the Council Chairman expressed the hope that the town would win the Championship Flag currently held by Bingley with a per capita average of £4-2-0. For small savings. The Chairman’s speech was followed by ones from Lord Harewood and Mr. Hammond and an expression of thanks from S.B. Bagley, seconded by Major Pollitt of the Home Guard.

Later, Lord Halewood set the target indicator at £23,176 following a concert given by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Regimental Band. As on previous occasions an exhibition was a feature of the weeks events and included among the military items was Adolf Hitler’s first standard. A further feature was a display of photographs of local men and women engaged in the war services. A prize winning verse competition and a well attended dance at the Town Hall rounded off the opening days activities.

Sunday witnessed a civic service at the Congregational Church, conducted by Rev. E. Sunter and followed by the customary parade which was again led by the Silver Prize Band. The parade included contingents of military personnel, including a detachment of A.T.S., Defence Services, Police and Special Constables and Youth Organisations. At the War Memorial the salute was taken by Commander Breedon of the A.T.S., accompanied by Major Pollitt, Cr. Fallas and Cr. Burton Arnold. A united service was held in the Town Hall on Sunday evening with music played by the Salvation Army Band.

The days of the ‘Salute The Soldier’ Week were sub-themed, Monday being designated ‘Childrens Day’. On that day the indicator was set by Miss Moira Beevers who was accompanied by children representing each local school. (60) Tuesday was ‘Ladies Day’, the indicator being set at £40,121 by Mrs. Holliday, accompanied by the secretaries of the street collections group and other officials including Cr. A. Reynolds., Treasurer, who described the secretaries as

"The backbone of the savings groups."

Wednesday was ‘Home Guard Day’ and Major Pollitt set the indicator at £61,519, slightly more than the target figure, and was thanked by Cr. H. Gregg and Rev. A.G. Shipley. ‘Services Welfare Day’ to mark the contribution of the local group which provided comforts for local servicemen and women, a movement which had its origins in the period of the Great War of 1914-1918, defined Thursday’s events. (61) On that day the indicator was set at £71,132-10-0 by ex Sergeant Harry Preston who had won the Military Medal during the First World War. Friday was ‘British Legion Day’ and the indicator reached £80,525, being set by Lt. H.N. Northrop R.N. (Ret.)

The final day of ‘Salute The Soldier’ Week was ‘Traders Day’. That evening a local businessman, G.W. Harrod, set the indicator at the final total of £94,107-18-0. Cr. Reynolds read out congratulatory telegrams from Lord Kindersley, President of the National Savings Association and from Sir John Anderson, Chancellor of the Exchequer. The corporate investments of the week were

Leeds Permanent Building Society £8,000
Carter’s Knottingley Brewery Co. Ltd. £3,000
Barclay’s Bank £2,500
Midland Bank £2,500
Halifax Building Society £2,500
York County Trustee Savings Bank £2,000
Knottingley U.D.C. £2,000
Pontefract Industrial Co-Op Soc. Ltd. £1,500
Pontefract Co-op Wholesale Soc. Ltd. £1,050
Yorkshire Insurance Co. Ltd. £1,000
Barnsley Building Society £1,000
Pontefract General Infirmary £1,000

In addition, more than £300 was raised for local charities as well as ‘free gifts’ for the government. (62)

Entertainments during the week included a dancing display by pupils of Miss Ann Bentley on the Wednesday and a baby show with no less than 39 entrants all of whom received a prize, on the Thursday. The baby show was judges by the local Medical Health Officer, Dr. J. Kehelly, and Miss Ward, and was followed by a concert given by the ‘K’ Sisters and Friends, a collection at the end raising £9 for Pontefract Infirmary Funds. (63) A whist drive rounded off the evening, producing £50 for Forces Welfare Funds. (64) On Friday it was the turn of Miss Green’s concert troupe to entertain the public, the sum of £40 being raised for British Legion Funds. The Ropewalk Senior School gave a review and pageant on the final day. The event was directed by the Headmaster, Mr. L. P. Luke and contained musical accompaniment by Cr. H. Gregg and Mr. A. Gregg, the former having composed much of the music in the show. (65)

The events of the final day also included a crooning competition, that relaxed style of singing which was in vogue from the 1930s to the mid-1960s. A Home Guard demonstration was also a feature. Directed by Major Pollitt with Captain W. Frost adding a commentary to co-ordinate the separate items, the demonstration created great excitement, particularly as live ammunition was used throughout the event. The customary dance in the Town Hall concluded the week’s proceedings, with prizes awarded in connection with the ‘free gift’ collections.

The final tally of 96,138 was more than twice the original target and represented a per capita figure of £11-3-6, an effort duly acknowledged by a public notice issued by the local Savings Committee. (66) Unfortunately no record has been found concerning the outcome of the Stanley – Knottingley challenge nor, despite a subsequent communication from the Regional Commissioner, National Savings Association, complimenting the town on its effort, is there any reference to bestowal of the Yorkshire Championship Flag. (67)

The annual meeting for the re-election of the Knottingley Savings Committee took place almost immediately and was followed a few months later by the annual meeting of the town’s Savings Association. (68) About the time of the latter meeting a ‘Merchant Navy Week’ took place at Knottingley, with a target of £400 which was easily exceeded. The event was one of the minor ones which interspersed the formal activities associated with the week long War Savings Weeks. (69)

By early April, 1945, the Knottingley and Ferrybridge group were again seeking ideas from the public for use in the forthcoming ‘Victory Savings Week’, offering prizes for the best ideas and also requesting public participation to ensure the success of the occasion. (70) Clearly, new ideas were greatly needed to stimulate enthusiasm of a public for whom the war was all but over and who for more than a year had been turning its thoughts to matters concerning post war construction. (71) Furthermore, change was desired to the format of Savings Week, which, with only one minor variation had followed the same pattern of events since the inauguration of War Savings Week in 1940. Indeed, to a jaded public such change was essential for with the war costing an estimated £15 million per day by mid-1944, additions to national savings were vital. (72) To this end efforts were redoubled to secure the maximum possible participation by local firms in workers savings groups. A ‘Membership Campaign’ ensured participation by 78% of the shipyard workers at John Harker Ltd. In the small firm’s league, 100% participation was recorded at the foundry of Messrs Lightowler, Ferrybridge. In consequence of the on-going effort, by April 1945 the sum of £750,000 had been collected by the inhabitants of Knottingley district since the onset of the war. (73)

The end of the war in Europe (7-5-1945) was followed shortly thereafter by the conclusion of the war against Japan (14-8-1945), by which time ‘Victory Week’ had given way to ‘Thanksgiving Week’. (74) Once again, plans were laid for a thematic approach with the town’s Womens’ Group deciding to mark ‘Womens’ Day’ with ‘Ye Olde Village Fayre’, complete with maypole, stalls and sundry competitions to be followed by and ‘Olde Tyme’ Dance with costume prizes. (76) The proposed ‘Mens Day’ was to feature a boxing tournament based on an inter-works competition and culminating in a district championship. (77) ‘Childrens Day’ was to include a children’s fancy dress Dance at the Town Hall with prizes allotted to the best dress utilising the theme of ‘savings’, character costume, old fashioned dress, comic dress, best couple and best loser. (78) Competitions were to include the best letter written to members of the forces by boy/girl/mother/sweetheart. Singing, dancing, whistling and poster competitions were also to feature in the week’s events. (79)

The Secretary of the local Savings Committee, Mr. E. Treadgold, stated that he hoped to see a total of £800,000, making a per capita average of £100, to mark Knottingley peoples’ contributions to the war effort. Treadgold had particular reason to feel optimistic at this time, having recently won £100 worth of Savings Certificates in a ‘Good Idea’ savings competition organised by a national newspaper, having earlier won the regional leg of the competition. (80)

It must be borne in mind that the planning of ‘Thanksgiving Week’ took place amidst the celebrations marking the end of the war. Myriad street parties, concerts, dances and entertainment’s, each requiring planning and special effort, not to mention cost, by the organisers and participants. In addition, other fund-raising activities, independent of war savings, had occurred throughout the year with the traditional Infirmary Sunday alone raising in excess of £2,200 via the active involvement of clubs, public houses and individual collectors. (81) Thus, by the commencement of ‘Thanksgiving Week’ on the 6th October 1945, euphoria had submitted to weariness with the public appetite sated by an excess of festive fare. Viewed in retrospect it is hardly surprising that the headline

"Knottingley starts with £43,600 – And a handful of People"

should have featured in the local press which reported lack of support with a disappointingly small gathering in front of the Town Hall for the opening ceremony.

The event was opened by Sir William Prince-Smith, O.B.E., M.C., Chairman of Keighley War Savings Committee, accompanied by Assistant Regional Savings Commissioner, Mr. J. W. King, Major C.H.W. Mew of the Lancs and Yorks Regimental Depot, Pontefract, Junior Commander Vetch of the A.T.S., and Cr. P. Gross. Chairman of K.U.D.C. and Mrs Gross, together with members of the Council and local Savings Committee.

In his platform speech, Mr. E. Treadgold who had been the local Committee’s Secretary throughout the entire war, said that savings were an important means of showing public gratitude to the armed forces and that the Germans had not discovered the atomic bomb. Moreover, savings continued to be necessary in order to avoid mass inflation until goods and money became more readily available, thereby obviating the mistakes which had led to misery in the wake of the Great War. The target indicator was then set by Major Maw.

Despite attempts to be innovative, events in general followed the pattern of previous years. The exhibition in the Council Chamber was one of paintings by local schoolchildren. Later on Saturday a concert was given by the ‘K’ Sisters, replacing that which was to have been given by the Duke of Wellingtons Regimental Band.

The customary Sunday Church Parade was led by Knottingley Silver Prize Band under bandmaster S. Marshall. A platoon of soldiers, members of the A.T.S. from nearby Byram Park camp, local Boys Brigade under Commandant N. Brooke, St. Johns Ambulance Brigade, supervised by Mr. S. Sheard, all marched round the town following a service at Ropewalk Methodist Church where the sermon had been preached by Rev. W.N.C. Steele. At the war Memorial the salute was taken by Colonel J.C. Kemp, M.C., with Cr. Gross, Councillors and Mr. E. Treadgold in attendance. Sunday evening saw an ecumenical service in the Town Hall where the local Salvation Army Band played hymns and a selection of music appropriate to the occasion. The Rev. E. Sunter of the Congregational Church presided. The lesson was read by Pastor L. Tumbrell of the Elim Church and Rev. Steele gave an address,

"War is won – War is on",

which was followed by prayers from Captain Bangay of the Salvation Army and concluded with a benediction by Rev. W. Musgrave, Vicar of Knottingley.

Monday was ‘Children and Youth Day’. The indicator was set at £21,457 by young Tommy Athorn whose father was in the forces and Olive Walker, the daughter of a serviceman, read out a message from Princess Elizabeth. In the early evening the Children’s Fancy Dress dance took place followed by a performance of ‘The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe’, given by Miss Green’s troupe.

On ‘Men’s Day’, the figure for Tuesday was set at £32,563 by Mr. H. Brummet, the recently appointed Town Clerk, who was introduced to the spectators by Cr. A. Reynolds, accompanied by Mr. E. Treadgold and Rev. A.G. Shipley. The evening’s activities commenced with a P.E. display by an A.T.S. platoon, which was accompanied by musical selections played by newly recruited members of the band of the Lancs & Yorks Regiment. (82)

Signaller S. Steels, for five years a prisoner of war in East Prussia and the first P.O.W to return to Knottingley, set the indicator on Thursday at £44,027. (83) Sgr. Steels was introduced by the Rev. W. Musgrave, accompanied by Mr. W.J. Hobman, Treasurer, Welfare Services. In the evening a whist drive and dance organised by the Knottingley Welfare Services Committee, took place with prizes being awarded by Mrs. Steels.

Friday was ‘Women’s Day’, with a ‘Bring and Buy Sale’ held in the Town Hall which, given the stringency of war conditions, produced a goodly display of toys, books, cakes, groceries, flowers and vegetables and miscellaneous fancy goods. The sale, organised by the Women’s Committee of the town, commenced with the introduction by Cr. P. Gross of Mr. J.W. King, Assistant Commissioner National Savings Association, who, following a brief address, called upon Mrs. Gross to open the sale which did brisk business. That evening the target indicator stood at £48, 427. The days events concluded with a dance in the Town Hall.

On Saturday, Ferrybridge born Miss I.M. Depledge, a member of the A.T.S. was introduced by Rev. Shipley and after setting the indicator at £52,225 was thanked by Cr. Gross. The figure exceeded the target of £50,000 for the town and finally reached £54,319, of which total more than a quarter was in small savings. Among the large donors were

K.U.D.C. £7,000
Barclays Bank Ltd. £2,500
Midland Bank Ltd. £2,500
Prudential Assurance Co. £2,500
Carters Knottingley Brewery Co. Ltd. £2,000
Halifax Building Society £1,250
Pontefract Wholesale Co-Op Soc. Ltd. £1,000
London and Lancashire Insurance Co. Ltd. £1,000
Yorkshire Insurance Co. Ltd. £1,000
Barnsley Permanent Building Society £500
Knottingley D. S. & S. Club £250
Bagley’s Recreation Club £100 (84)

Thus following a shaky start, the last of the Knottingley War Savings Weeks successfully met its target.

The savings drive continued however with a meeting of the local Association held in the Town Hall on the evening of Tuesday 13 November 1945 to discuss the transition from war to peacetime saving. (85) Later the same month Mr. Treadgold received a letter of thanks from Sir Harold Mackintosh, Chairman National Savings Movement, thanking all involved for their strenuous efforts during ‘Thanksgiving Week’ and stressing the importance of continuing the work in order to assist post-war reconstruction. (86)

The ‘glory days’ of the savings movement with public response impelled by patriotic fervour were over and despite the shortages and austerity of the post war decade, people in general sought to spend rather than save. In February 1946 the Knottingley Savings Committee resigned after six years of exemplary work in which both members and the people of Knottingley had played a part, essential to the survival of the nation. (87)

Dr. Terry Spencer

War Savings Weeks is Copyright ©Dr. Terry Spencer

War Savings Week – NOTES

  1. The National Savings Scheme was first introduced in 1917 during the Great War c.f. Taylor A.J.P. ‘English History 1914-1945’, O.U.P. (1965) p88
  2. Pontefract and Castleford Express 23-2-1940, p10
  3. loc cit p9
  4. ibid
  5. loc cit 5-4-1940, p9
  6. loc cit 21-6-1940, p1
  7. loc cit 10-1-1941, p4. The ‘Spitfire Fund’ was a feature of other neighbourhood towns but appears to have been more loosely structured than alter campaigns. c.f. loc cit 20-6-1941 for details of Castleford’s ‘flag day’ event.
  8. loc cit 24-1-1941, p4. For details of Pontefract subscribers and editorial comment c.f.issue 17-1-1941, p9
  9. loc cit 14-2-1941, p5
  10. ibid
  11. loc cit 25-4-1941 p6
  12. loc cit 21-2-1941 p6
  13. loc cit 28-2-1941 p5
  14. loc cit 7-3-1941 p1
  15. The civic dignitaries included the K.U.D.C. Chairman and President of the local Savings Committee, Cr. A. Braim, Cr. B. Arnold, Chairman of the Committee and Cr. A. Reynolds, Committee Treasurer. Also Mr. W. Berry, Town Clerk.
  16. Pontefract and Castleford Express 14-3-1941, p2
  17. loc cit 21-34-1941 p6
  18. loc cit 14-3-1941 p2
  19. loc cit 9-4-1941 p5
  20. loc cit 24-7-1942 p5 & 31-7-1942 p5
  21. loc cit 23-1-1942 p5
  22. loc cit 30-1-1942 p6
  23. loc cit 13-2-1942 p5
  24. loc cit 27-2-1942 p8
  25. ibid
  26. ibid
  27. loc cit 20-2-1942 pp 4 & 6 for photographs and reports of Pontefract’s efforts. Also issue 27-2-1942 p7. The submarine ‘Unique’ was later sunk and eventually replaced by a new vessel bearing the same name loc cit 14-1-1944 p4
  28. loc cit 27-3-1942 p8
  29. loc cit 20-3-1942 p6
  30. loc cit 13-3-1942 p7
  31. loc cit 6-2-1942 p1
  32. loc cit 27-2-1942 p4
  33. ibid & 6-3-1942 p5
  34. ibid
  35. ibid & 13-3-1942 p7
  36. ibid
  37. loc cit 6-2-1942 p3
  38. loc cit 13-2-1942 p5
  39. loc cit 23-1-1942 p5 & 27-2-1942 p6
  40. 13-3-1942 p7
  41. loc cit 6-3-1942 p7. For details of H.M.S. Kennet c.f. essay ‘Knottingley’s Warship – H.M.S. Kennet’
  42. Pontefract and Castleford Express 13-3-1942 p7
  43. loc cit 20-3-1942 p6
  44. loc cit
  45. loc cit 19-2-1943 p1
  46. loc cit 26-2-1943 p3
  47. loc cit 5-3-1943 p3
  48. loc cit 19-3-1943 p2
  49. loc cit 10-3-1944 p8. By 1944 5,500 books had been donated by the people of Knottingley district with J.S. Fletcher’s ‘When Charles the First Was King’ reportedly in great demand by servicemen from the area.
  50. 26-3-1943 p3
  51. loc cit 10-3-1944 p3 & 25-2-1944 p3
  52. These communities included Badsworth, Billingley, Brierley, Kirk Smeaton, Little Smeaton, Little Haughton and Minsthorpe. loc cit 5-4-1944 p4
  53. loc cit 3-3-1944 p1
  54. loc cit 21-4-1944 p2 For details of Garforth’s 1944 Savings week c.f. issue 28-4-1944 p2
  55. loc cit 23-6-1944 p1
  56. loc cit 12-5-1944 p6
  57. loc cit 14-7-1944 p3 Pontefract sought to attain £1 million for all savings weeks 1941-44 inclusive. For details of amounts in previous years c.f.loc cit 14-1-1944 p4
  58. loc cit 18-2-1944 p3 Miss Beryl Rathmell was a schoolgirl, a contemporary and fellow pupil of the writer.
  59. loc cit 24-3-1944 p6
  60. Miss Moira Beeners was a pupil of the Ropewalk Secondary School and is remembered by the writer as being a respected senior pupil when he entered that venerable institution in 1946.
  61. Spencer T. ‘Knottingley and Ferrybridge War Memorials’ (2001) p29 and accompanying footnote 18 for reference to Knottingley Township Committee’s provision of comforts for local servicemen during the Great War.
  62. Pontefract and Castleford Express 5-5-1944 p4
  63. c.f. Spencer T. The ‘K’ Sisters – Entertainers Extraordinaire’
  64. Mr. E. N. France. A local teacher and gifted musician, was at the forefront of local fund-raising and together with Mr. E. Treadgold and other local teachers was instrumental in raising money (including the celebrated mile of pennies) to enable the purchase of playing fields for children of the town. c.f. Spencer T. ‘Knottingley Playing Fields’ (forthcoming)
  65. For a number of years before the outbreak of war, L.P. Luke had produced the ‘Ropewalk Review’ a public entertainment featuring the pupils of his Ropewalk Senior School in sketches and musical items written and arranged by Luke and E.N. France and assisted in the production by school colleagues. c.f. Pontefract and Castleford Express ?-?-???? p?
  66. loc cit 5-5-1944 p4 & p5
  67. loc cit 9-6-1944 p3
  68. loc cit 12-5-1944 p6 & 5-1-1945 p3
  69. loc cit 26-1-1945 p5
  70. loc cit 13-4-1945 p8
  71. The changing psychological attitude is clearly evident in a variety of items and events which featured in the local press and which were reflected more generally in the national newspapers of the period. Several advertisements in early 194? Refer to "after the war.." whilst a feature "What Pontefract wants to do after the war" appeared in March of that year. Relaxation of constraints on the general public was evident from the announcement in 199 that Pontefract was one of two racecourses at which race meetings were to be resumed during the following summer. Provision was also made for the release of servicemen to assist post war rebuilding programmes where necessary c.f. loc cit 25-2-1944 p3 & 5-3-1944 p5 and passim.
  72. loc cit 19-5-1944 p5 An advertisement placed by the Trustee Savings Bank in Spring 1944 gave the total of £273 million as the amount contributed via that organisation since the start of the National Savings Campaign in November 1939 c.f. loc cit 14-4-1944 p8
  73. loc cit 13-4-1945 p8
  74. The commemorative dates of V –E Day and V- J Day are the 8th May and 15th August respectively
  75. Pontefract & Castleford Express 13-7-1945 p5
  76. loc cit 20-7-1945 p5
  77. loc cit 27-7-1945 p5
  78. loc cit 3-8-1945 p3
  79. loc cit 17-8-1945 p8
  80. loc cit 10-8-1945 p6
  81. ibid
  82. loc cit 12-10-1945 p4 For an indication of how savings were amassed in advance of Savings Week c.f report on the savings rally at Knottingley Town Hall loc cit 5-10-1945 p1
  83. The writer remembers when as a schoolboy he joined a large throng gathered in the street to welcome back Sgr. Steels from his long incarceration as a German P.O.W. This became a common practice, observed in the case of other returning P.O.W.s at least in the neighbourhood of the Broomhill estate.
  84. Pontefract & Castleford Express 19-10-1945 p8
  85. loc cit 9-1-1945 p3
  86. loc cit 23-11-1945 p3
  87. loc cit 8-2-1946 p8

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