Readers’ letters - February 9

A scene from the new film Dads Army. See letter about one readers childhood memories

A scene from the new film Dads Army. See letter about one readers childhood memories

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Memories of Dad’s Army

With the recent launch of the film version of Dad’s Army, it has re-kindled my childhood memories of the period.

Perhaps your readers may like to share them.

My dad, an engineer fitter, was in what was known as a ‘reserve occupation’, but he still had to do his bit and one of his duties was that of an ARP officer.

This meant that he had to ensure that, as darkness fell, there were no chinks of light showing through the blackout curtains, which everyone had to have.

It wasn’t a popular thing to have to do, because invariably, people would just be settling down for the night, perhaps having a meal or playing cards, when the knock would come on the window pane.

“Light showing, close the blackout”, and this was not a request but an order. If anyone objected, they would be told in no uncertain terms that “Gerry, (the Germans), could see the speck of light from miles away and we could all be bombed out of existence”.

On one occasion there was great excitement amongst us children because the members of the ARP had obtained a small incendiary device and were going to practise putting out the resulting fire. All the children had been warned to keep well away from the detonation, so, of course, we all sat on the wall to watch!

The device went off with a ‘whoosh’ and fierce flames burnt brightly. A siren sounded and the ARP members came running out with the only fire-fighting equipment available – a bucket of water and a stirrup pump!

Water was splashed everywhere as the men argued as to who should hold the bucket and who should do the pumping. A human chain was quickly formed and further buckets of water were brought to the scene, only most of them were by then only half full. By this time, the men were soaking wet and getting more bad-tempered.

On another occasion, dad came home from work, after being on night-shift, and told us how, for part of the night, he and some of the other workers had to patrol the perimeter of the factory.

There was always the risk that saboteurs may break in and attempt to destroy the factory, it being involved in producing goods for the war effort.

As they patrolled, on this very dark night, a rustling sound was heard coming from the hedgerow bordering the pathway they were patrolling. They only had broomsticks and a pickaxe handle as weapons and it was with some trepidation that they issued the command, “Halt. Who goes there?” There was no response, which made them more nervous than ever. After a moment or two clinging closely together, a further command was issued.

“Come on, we know you are there, show yourself.”

After a brief moment of further silence, there was more rustling in the bushes and a loud “moo” as the cow from the field next door extricated itself from the bushes!

Such was the shock and relief of those patrolling that they legged it very fast to the safety and warmth of the canteen, where they quickly related their experience to the others who were present. This was greeted with much laughter, which helped to ease the frightened state the patrol was now in.

No wonder I always enjoy watching the series Dad’s Army on the television. It really was so true to life. If the Germans had only known how ill-prepared we were, they would have marched all over us at an early date.

Graham Archer, Chorley

It’s reserves not revenues

My letter (LEP February 6) should have read “Could someone from Lancashire County Council please explain, through your pages, how they can justify such vicious cuts to vital rural services, when they have reserves of £300m, plus £96m of school reserves.”

Mrs S Rimmer, Knott End On Sea

Make station more accessible

I was pleased to read about Network Rail’s plans to upgrade Chorley Railway Station (LEP January 30).

Network Rail’s spokesman states that £1bn is being spent in the north of England, and to accommodate faster trains, platform upgrades at Chorley need to take place.

I hope the improvements include a lift on each platform to allow wheelchair-users, people with prams, and the disabled, to access the opposite side of the station without having to use either the very steep, horrible Victorian underpass to Friday Street, then walk on the road (no pavement, no dropped kerbs) to the station entrance, or walk the very long way to Friday Street, under the line and back to the opposite station entrance.

There are steps and an underpass on the platform, but they are of no use to wheelchair-users or those with prams.

I am a member of Chorley Civic Society, and we have been trying to bring this to the notice of Northern Rail, which operates the line, for almost six months.

If any member of the public has had difficulty in using the underpass, or the steps, to reach the opposite side, please contact me on kathalmond@btinternet.com or 01772 600368.

Kath Almond, Croston

Whales and wind turbines

The death of so many sperm whales in our North Sea waters is very distressing.

Is it possible that the numerous offshore wind turbines in these waters have affected the navigation system of these animals, causing them to flounder in shallow waters?

Stephanie Shield via email

Bill only fair to ‘Etonians’

The Government’s Trade Union Bill is nowt of the sort.

It’s an attempt to push through a one-sided biased reform of party funding – but excluding the Conservatives.

This Bill will slash union donations to Labour while wealthy donors are free to plough cash into Conservative party coffers.

Sounds fair enough – to Old Etonians.

Terry Marston

Address supplied