History revealed at Church Rooms
During improvement works at Old Buckenham Church Rooms recently by Bill Rout, a remnant of an old newspaper came to light in a ventilation duct..
It would appear that the paper had been screwed up and pushed into the duct in an attempt to stop cold draughts during the winter weather. The paper recovered is somewhat tattered and only partially legible. Bill examined the paper carefully and although there is no date visible on the remnant, the news it reports suggests that it dates from January 1944 and that it is a copy of the Daily Mail. The page is most likely to be an inside one due to its relatively mundane content. It must be remembered that newspapers were somewhat thinner during the war due to shortage of materials.
One side of the page reports current news of the war whilst the other concentrates on advertisements, book reviews and advice for gardeners.
The most prominent news items are related to the war, both military and diplomatic activity. Two maps illustrate the progress of Russian forces as they push westwards into Poland. The maps suggest that both Kiev and Leningrad were in Soviet hands. Kiev was retaken by the Russians on the 6th January and the Siege of Leningrad was relieved on the 27th of January.
Another, less prominent report indicates that a German counter attack against Allied forces on the Garigliano front had been repulsed. This was part of the allied drive towards Rome which was severely held up by Axis resistance at Monte Cassino later in the spring Interestingly there is no mention of activity around Anzio which was the scene of an Allied landing on the 22nd of January. This may of course have been given more prominence on the front page. A report had been received to the effect that Nazi Party leaders had been warned that certain elements in the German Army were thought to be plotting to overthrow Hitler and sue for peace. Approaches to the US authorities by representatives of the German Government had been spurned by both British and American representatives.
In smaller reports readers were informed that American submarines had sunk 12 Japanese vessels and that Indian RAF Spitfires had downed six enemy aircraft in Burma.
On a happier note, a report indicated that a memorial fund for those who fell in the Battle of Britain had reached the sum of £20,000.
The other side of the sheet is largely given over to advertisements for seeds for the coming growing season. Such household names as Webbs, Dobbies and Unwins are present along with lesser known traders as Toogoods, Talkamps and Allwoods. Allwoods were offering “January Bargains” such as 1 pint of broad beans at 1/10p, culinary peas at 1/3p per ½ pint as well as 13/- mixed boxes for 10/- if ordered in January.
The gardening column is still visible under the heading “Gardening with Percy Izzard” The redoubtable Percy notes that the days are getting longer and readers are exhorted to be “up and doing” in the garden whilst good results are expected in his plot later in the year.
Other advertisements visible are those for Lux Toilet soap (endorsed by Dorothy Lamour no less) and Puritan Soap “You need so little for a lot of lather”, well worth it at thruppence farthing and two coupons for an ½ pound bar. BDS “the King of Tobacco” tobacco was available at 2/7p an ounce.
Other items legible are the Theatre and Cinema listings for London as well as the wireless schedules.
Quite an interesting read and a reminder of a world very close to home, but very different from our own.