Tuesday 30 November 2010

1938 Cookery

My Mother (who has been a great help all through this project) works at the Glastonbury Rural Life Museum http://www.culture24.org.uk/sw000123, this got me thinking about 1938 food. The BBC ‘

In both the town and countryside, a boy with an air rifle could make money from pigeons or rabbits:-

To cook a pigeon
Remove feathers and skin, cut off head and feet, clean, put in the body a piece of butter the size of a walnut, 2 teaspoonfuls of any sauce (H.P, O.K, etc), a dash of pepper and salt.
Make a suet crust, roll out thin, place the pigeon on it, with a thin slice of bacon on the breast, roll the crust over the bird to shape. Bake it and baste with bacon fat or butter. This keeps the bird moist.

Stewed Rabbit
1 rabbit
3 cloves
¼ lb of bacon, 2 onions
Salt, pepper, ¼ pint milk
Split the head, soak with the neck in cold, salted water for ½ hour, dry them; cut the rabbit in to nice servings and the bacon in to little pieces.
Place with the seasoning in a pan, cover with water or stock. Simmer for 1½-2 hours or till tender. Mix flour with milk, stir gently until it thickens.
N.B- The rabbit may be fried brown in a little dripping if desired.

Pease Pottage
12oz peas
4oz spinach,
mace or nutmeg to flavour
1 small onion, mint or pea tendrils
1 pint of stock
Peel and chop the onion and soften in the butter, add the peas and stock and simmer for 15 minutes, add the spinach and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Sieve or liquidise when cooked. Reheat before serving, garnish with mint, pea tendrils and a dab of butter.

Somerset Fritters
1 egg, 1 tablespoon of flour, milk to mix (¼ pint), peeled and chopped eating apples.
Make a thick batter, heat your griddle or frying pan and use a little butter or oil to prevent the mix sticking. Fold the chopped apple in to the fritter mix and spoon the mixture into the pan with a tablespoon. Turn over when the fritter becomes solid. These should be sprinkled with sugar and eaten as soon as they are cooked.

Courgette (or any other vegetable) Fritter
1 courgette, 2 chopped spring onions
2 tbsp self raising flour, 1oz grated cheese
1egg, beaten;  seasoning
Grate the courgette and mix with the spring onions, flour, cheese and egg. Mix all together and season.
Heat a large griddle or frying pan with a little oil or butter. Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture in the pan and cook for 2 ½ minutes or until brown. Turn over and cook the other side for a further 2 ½ minutes.
Turn Back Time: The High Street, The 1930s’ also gave me some ideas. Here are some cooking recipes that people may have used.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Taunton 1937

By the end of 1937 things had moved on, many towns were now under the control of militias or the Anglican League.
Taunton is a powder keg, a small keg but one which is repeated across the country.
Unlike Frome and Wells which are firmly in the hands of the SFF and Anglican League, Taunton is split.
As the county town it has the main garrison of the auxiliary police ( part of the BUF). Many are from outside the county, so the uniforms, regular pay and strange accents are causing resentment with the locals.
The Taunton branch of the BUF is small but well supported, as Lord Winterfield uses them as a bodyguard when he is in the area.
The Bishop of Taunton is nowhere as militant as the Bishop of Bath and Wells, but he is a member of the Anglican League as are many of his parishioners. The Bishop is under house arrest for anti-Mrs Simpson Sermons.D company which operates around Taunton is one of the SFFs biggest. This has lead to skirmishes between the auxiliary police and SFF.
Market day sees regular fights between the BUF and supporters of the SFF and the Anglican League. So far no guns have been used.
The police are having to deal with a growing black market. Raids on houses in the town have added to the tension.
The police are being sent out in the villages around Taunton to arrest SFF suspects and look for arms caches. The police have to have an armed escort from the auxiliary police to do this.

Friday 19 November 2010

A very British Farm and Food in the City, part 1

For those of you outside the UK a quick look at British farms.
Farms in Britain are built from different materials, but in general farms in the southwest, Wales and the north are stone. You see more brick building in the Midlands and southeast.
A farm should have the following; Farmhouse, barn, stables (all farms still used horses in the 1930’s), pig sty, hen house, 1 or 2 sheds. Then depending on the type you can add a 1 or 2 more barns, cowshed and milking parlour. There would be a kitchen garden and maybe an orchard.
To give you some idea of how strong they are, the cottage in Somerset where I grew up had walls 3 feet thick at the base and 18 inches thick at the top. The windows were 2 or 3 feet square. It also had its own spring water coming out of a tap in the back kitchen ( utility room). As you can see a tough nut to crack if defended.
Like people in the towns, country people began to prepare. Building places to hide food and weapons, as well as valuables.
In the towns men started to plan. Not soldiers or revolutionaries, but town and city planners. Men in small, dark offices who’s job it is to plan for the emergencies that may never happen.
Among their plans were how to feed the people. Where would their food, coal, and electricity come from. Their looked at where could food be grown. football pitches, parks and other green areas were all being looked at.
The people in the towns had always grown some vegetables or kept some chickens or pigeons in their back gardens.
As things got worse everyone began to prepare, finding space to grow more or putting in rabbit hutches. Anything to make life easier in the coming months.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Extracts from ‘1938, Somerset’s Secret War’ By Dick Skeggs, part 2

… I returned from my adventures to an England full of uniforms. I was met off the boat by men in uniform, not just Customs men but men in black uniforms with lightning badges. It felt very strange, I’d seen it on the news reels, but to be part of it that was just odd.
I travelled down to Somerset to see CT, he met me at Frome station - he did not come alone, but had a man with him he introduced as Wally. Wally had a pistol under his jacket. He drove me back to his farm in silence. We drove down a number of back roads, when we got to the farm I asked about the scenic route but CT just said it was to avoid the BUF checkpoints.
After a good meal CT, Wally and I sat down with a whiskey each, Irish of course. CT explained what had changed and how the Somerset Freedom Fighters were now preparing for a war, a civil war.
I just said ‘What can I do to help?’
‘We need arms and someone to run our intelligence section.’
I just smiled.

I travelled back to the Bahamas and took the time to formulate my plan. First I found some of my old gang and got them working, I wanted a schooner and at least 3 speed boats. The schooner would need hiding places for the arms I was going to get.
I then went to America to set up some of my old network, I planned to buy or steal arms from the National Guard and then smuggle then out of America and across the Atlantic using the Florida keys as the gateway.
My gang of smugglers would need to be paid, so as well as arms and ammunition I loaded the ship with whisky, cigarettes, tea, coffee, sugar and tins goods. These I felt would bring a price on the black market in England.
The crossing was terrible rain and huge seas. All 3 of the speed boats were damaged in the crossing. We made land fall at Cork in the south of Ireland to make repairs and recover. I had to bribe the Harbour Master not to look too hard around the ship, after getting this he was very helpful. He told me that the Isles of Scilly were a nest of pirates and we should stay well away and that there was fighting in England. This last bit came as no surprise.
After making repairs and a long talk with my second in command Andy Bell, we set sail for the Scilly’s, I didn’t think there would be pirates, but it might be somewhere to base ourselves for later smuggling operations.
The Scilly’s were not full of pirates, just men and women looking for a way to stay alive. Andy Bell and I want ashore and talked to the islanders. We traded some of our goods with them. I was looking long term, looking for a base to start the last leg of our gun running journeys across the Atlantic. It was agreed that if we were given a safe harbour we’d bring in goods for the islanders.
I took on a local fisherman as a pilot to help navigate around the islands and up the Bristol Channel. When everything was ready we set sail for Somerset.
..The BUF officer on board the fishing boat the ‘Mary B’ was shocked at what happened ( I know I read the report 24 hours after it was delivered). He was on patrol to the south east of Lundy when a lookout spotted 3 sets of lights heading east. He moved to intercept them when to his surprise the lights speeded up and moved towards him. The next thing he know was his boat was being raked with machine gun fire from 3 speed boats. No one was killed but 4 men were wounded. The Captain turned away and soon afterwards the civilian crew nearly mutinied…
We had ’acquired’ our first arms shipment and crossed the Atlantic.

Extracts from ‘1938, Somerset’s Secret War’ By Dick Skeggs

The more I write the more I write. A lot of the source Books start in 1938 or just before, Dick's book go's back to the Great War. This piece covers the lead up to the war.
I hope you enjoy this.

…Like so many Irishmen before me I decided to go to America.
I started with a reconnaissance, travelling around prohibition America was fascinating. New York and Chicago were full of gangs fighting each other. Hollywood was out as I didn’t feel comfortable there, so I settled on Florida. It seemed open for business with the Keys, miles of coastline and the Bahamas so close.
As well as getting the booze ashore I knew I would need information, on local law enforcement, other gangs, things like that. All the gangs had police, judges and even mayors on their payroll, but this lead to shakedowns, double crosses and other trouble. I wanted to work around these people, so I got my information from the sheriff’s wife, his secretary, the mayor’s girlfriend, I even employed all the girls at a telephone exchange so they could listen in to people, these along with road house and cafe owners. This net work covered hunderds of miles and over 100 people.
I set up my own telephone exchange so all my contacts could phone in any information they got. We always took reverse charge calls so the contacts could phone in at any time. All this intelligence meant I could change the route of our bootleg convoys at a moment’s notice. To communicate with the convoys, each had a number of motorcycle outriders. These outriders would phone the telephone exchange regularly for up dates and change the route of the convoy if necessary.
It may sound like this organisation ‘just appeared‘; it didn’t, it took over a year to setup.
At sea we started with a fishing boat which was not good. A fishing boat is designed to have the fuel as the ballast, then the fish as the fuel goes down. When we had booze and fuel in the boat the boat wallowed, and when the booze was unloaded and the fuel used, it bobbed and rolled.
After a number successful deliveries I bought a schooner and renamed her the ’Diana’. She would be moored up on the Rum Row, 12 miles off the coast and we used small fast boats to run the booze ashore. The fast boats had aircraft engines so they could outrun the American Coastguard cutters. Defending our boats from the Coastguard and other gangs was a problem so I looked round for some suitable weapons. One member of the my gang had been in the American National Guard and he told me that security at National Guard depots could be very bad. This proved to be true, so we stole guns or bought them from underpaid storemen. Our fast boats now had .30 cal Browning as well as aircraft engines to keep them safe.
We would tow the speedboats behind the Diana to the 12 mile mark, load them and set off after dark. Skimming over the water at 35 mph was a thrill, high speed fire fights with the Coastguard an even bigger one. At other times I would be at the exchange making sure the convoy arrived alright. The exchange got more and more information, this was because I paid all my contacts every month, I also paid a bonus for each convoy that arrived safely. We could make $100,000 from a big shipment getting through, so a bonus of $50-$100 was small change to me, but a big incentive to all the people I had working for me.
When prohibition was repealed in December 1933 I had a holiday, then travelled around America to pay off all my contacts. I paid off the rest off the gang and then had another holiday, sitting on a beach in the Bahamas, this lasted about 6 months before I moved on to other adventures.

Sunday 7 November 2010

The Anglican League in Devon

First I’d like to thank Andy Callan for the Landsnechts in Devon Campaign. In his original the mayor of Exeter was called Blackaber so it was a easy step to ‘Blackadder’ and the man leading the relief column ‘Darling’. As you can see we couldn’t keep that in the book.
The Bishop of Exeter was not a fighting man, but he did support the Church of England’s policy of calling for Edward and Mosley too go. He also lend his full secret support to the Devon Anglican League.
The men who made up the Anglican League leadership in Devon were working hard to build an organisation to rival the BUF and Devon and Exeter Farmers Rifles (DEFR). One of these men was the Mayor of Exeter, Edmond Blackadder.
It was early in the morning that the Bishop was dragged from his bed, bundled in to a car and driven north. Mayor Blackadder had betrayed the League, he was in fact a Royalist and had been working with the BUF. The Mayor had given the BUF enough information to allow them to arrest the Bishop and all the leading members of the Anglican League.
But the Anglican League were tipped off about the arrests and the Bishop and some others were able to escape. The remnants of the Anglican League fled north heading for the town of Barnstaple, those that arrived had tales of night time drives through the lanes of North Devon and gun fights with the BUF.
The BUF and Royalists moved north to destroy what was left of the Anglican League. They moved through Meshaw, but were themselves attacked by DEFR around South Molton. DEFR also attacked BUF positions in the south of Devon. This took the pressure off the Anglican League and gave them time to organise as more stragglers arrived. With so much of the BUF forces in the north, DEFR moved to cut them off from Exeter. The BUF found themselves fighting the Anglican League to there front and DERF on there flanks and rear.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

South West Anglican League Forces

In the South West the Anglican League have developed in to 3 types of  forces. This is because in some areas the Anglican League is in control and in others the League is an underground movement. This makes for a very confused patchwork across the countryside.
First are the parish defence companies. These are local units, whose job is to protect a number of parishes. They are made up of part timers, who’s main job might be farming, shop workers or some other job which means they must stay in their village or town. Their members also act as a police force. They are run by parish defence committees who’s members walk a tight rope between running their villages and not antagonising the local BUF or LDVs. The BUF arrest members on sight. LDVs may beat them up. One very vocal vicar finished up in a dung heap. All villages now have false walls in houses, hidden bunkers and other methods to hide food, arms and people from enemy searches.
Then there are the Anglican League regulars. These follow British army lines and are the main stay of the Anglican league. Platoons are between 20 and 25 men, all have 1 LMG and 1 SMG some now have 2 of each. Companies have 3 platoons and a large HQ which have 1 or 2 HMGs. Battalions each have 3 companies plus a Battalion Headquarters company. Mortars and heavier weapons are grouped in 2 tube/gun batteries under the control of battalion commanders. The regular companies are not all motorised. The regulars are the main fighting force of the Anglican League in the West Country. Some are sent out to back up the parish defence companies.
The mobile nature of some of the fighting has created a 3rd type of unit, the Anglican League call ‘March Columns‘. These mobile units where first sent out to try and open roads between Anglican League controlled areas, but had to fight all the way and where constantly under the threat of ambush.
March Columns follow the same formation as Anglican League regulars, but have more automatic weapons in each platoon.
Each March Column has grown to be a self-contained unit, are mostly motorised but with some mounted elements. Each has a spearhead of armoured cars or armoured lorries. Each platoon has its own lorry, with the HQ having a lorry and two or three cars or vans. A March Column takes as much as they can in the way of supplies, so as not to take too much from the locals. This makes them VERY tempting targets for LDVs and the BUF. In more rural areas there are a lot more cavalry in the March Columns. This helps in moving the coloums across open country and too out flank ambushes, as well as helping to scout for check-points and road blocks.
The soldiers see themselves as the elite of the Anglican League because of dangerous type of mission they go on. As well as keeping the roads open March Columns have to collect tithes and ‘show the flag’.
It was soon felt that the Anglican League had to put something back in to the communities it was trying to control. Now each March Column has a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace (JP) attached. These set up Assize courts, to try cases and bring some law and order back to the countryside. Many pre-civil war Magistrates and JPs sided with the Anglican League so these courts have a lot of legitimacy with people in the countryside as they hark back to the days before the war.
Each March Column also has a doctor (one even has a dentist) these set up clinics and treat the local population. This justice and medicine approach has helped bring in new support.

Monday 1 November 2010

The Anglican League, part 3

It was announced that the following Sunday the Bishop of Bath and Wells would lead the services; Bath Abbey in the morning and Wells Cathedral in the afternoon.
An hour before the morning service was due to start, lorries brought uniformed men into the city of Bath. In the end there were 200 uniformed men parading in Broad Street outside St Michael’s Church, where they performed close foot drill for the growing crowd.
The uniform of these men was very different from both the Army and the BUF. Green jackets and dark red berets were something very different. As the men drilled a crowd began to form, in these troubled times word spread quickly, and it did, on this Sunday morning. In the growing crowd, young women handed out pamphlets calling for Edward and Mosley to go. Also in the crowd were recruiters - men looking for new members for the Anglican League. They listened to conversations started by the pamphlets and looked for men who might be talked in to joining.
Just before the service was to begin, the men formed up and marched down Broad Street. By now a large crowd lined the streets. Some cheered; most were surprised that there were no BUF or police around. The soldiers marched into Northgate Street and then into High Street. Here there was a large crowd, some had flags and all of them were cheering. A dais had been erected, standing on it were the Bishop and two local ex Members of Parliament. The Bishop and one of the MPs were also in uniform, (the Bishop in his white collar,) both wearing dark red berets to match the marching men. All three saluted as the column marched past.
The men turned right into Cheap Street, halted, then in single file marched through an archway, across the square and into the Abbey.
By the time the Bishop had changed into his vestments and climbed in to the pulpit, the Abbey was full.
His sermon again called for the King to abdicate and for Mosley to call a new election. He then thanked the men who had volunteered to join the Anglican League. A murmur went around the abbey as this was the first time the name had been used in public.
The Bishop then went on to say he was very pleased to be able to present the first standard to the Anglican League.
As the Bishop came down from the pulpit, a Verger brought the standard from beside the altar where it had been standing. From the back of the Abbey a three man colour party formed and marched down the centre aisle. The colour party stopped in front of the Bishop, and taking the standard from the Verger, the Bishop turned and presented it to the young Second Lieutenant at the centre of the three.
After the Bishop had blessed the standard, the colour party turned and marched out of the Abbey followed by the men of the now-named ‘First City of Bath Battalion Anglican League’.

As the congregation filed outside, two men broke away from the crowd.
‘ Very smart.’ CT said.
‘Yes.’ replied Dick Skeggs. ’Want to join?’
‘No. Fancy a beer?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Dick, ’Thirsty work watching people march about.’

‘How can this happen?’ Prime Minister Oswald Mosley’s anger filled the room. ‘On Friday all I had to deal with were some reds and angry farmers. Now I have the Anglican League. How did this happen?’
‘Sir, Prime Minister, There have been reports. It was discussed last month at the cabinet meeting. It was felt then that the Church of England didn’t have the backing or the will to do anything. Minister Joyce went to see both the Archbishop and the Bishop of Bath and Wells. His report is on your desk.’
‘Where is Joyce? And Lord Winterfield? He’s supposed to be keeping an eye on the Bishop of Bath and bloody Wells.’
‘That I don’t know, Prime Minister.’
‘And what happened to the BUF garrison and the police?’ asked Mosley.

William Joyce knew about the parade on Saturday night, his spies were a lot better than Prime Minister Mosley knew.
‘And now the clear-out can really begin,’ was his only comment.

‘My God.’
‘What dear?’ Wallis Simpson hated having Edward about before she was dressed.
‘I said ‘My God’.’ Edward walked in to the room with a newspaper and a cup of coffee. ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury has his own army.’
‘Will it make any difference dear?’
‘Well at least all my enemies are out in the open now.’

At breakfast on Monday morning, the Bishop was feeling very pleased with himself. The parades had worked brilliantly, in one day he had removed the BUF from Bath and Wells and got the names of over 500 new recruits. Now He had a large power base and enough men to make the Anglican League a force to be reckoned with. He knew he lacked officers and NCOs but hoped that there would be some in the new recruits. Also with Bath free of BUF, He could set up a training camp.

The Anglican League, part 2

Later, outside in the dark, two of the younger men stood and smoked, one a pipe, the other a cigarette.
‘A power cut?’
‘Trouble with the unions.’
‘Do you have enough men?’
‘Is there ever enough?’
‘It’s the tithe that’s stopping a lot of new recruits. You must stop collecting it.’
‘We need the money.’
‘Money more than men?’
‘For now, yes. Look, go back to York and carry on organising. You’ll get a lot more support now. I’m going back to Bath to do the same thing.’
The Bishop was forced to travel back to Bath by car. A signallers’strike had stopped all the trains going to the West Country.
The number of checkpoints on the way home surprised the Bishop. The police officers were still as respectful, but the BUF men were not. Twice the Bishop and his driver were ordered out of the car and searched by the BUF. Nothing was found as there was nothing to find. The Bishop had to recite a number of prayers to keep calm.