Paisley War Weapons Week, 9th to 14th December 1940.
15 year old Peggy Jane Skinner’s 1940 diary records how this national fundraising event happened 75 years ago in Paisley in Scotland, where she and her SW London born family were based during the war.
Today we are used to charity appeals at Christmas but this was one appeal with a difference in 1940.
Saturday 7th Went to Paisley with Bunty to see [the film] My Two Husbands, it was very amusing. Altogether, it was quite a good show. Paisley was crowded, it was War Weapons Week …
Thursday 12th It is Paisley War Weapons Week this week, our savings collection last week towards it was £175, this week it is £333, making a total of over £500 which is five times as much as we aimed at.
‘Our savings collection’ probably refers to a local area or school collection.
I found an interesting reference to this 1940 War Weapons Week in Glasgow and Paisley in a poem by Lance Corporal Alexander Barr, 193 Field. Ambulance, R.A.S.C. on the BBC People at War website, www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/33/a5748933 contributed by elsabeattie on 14 September 2005 as Article ID: A5748933
WAR WEAPONS WEEK
Well done Glasgow, and all the rest
For Savings Week you’ve done your best
Now it’s Paisley’s turn to show
How keen we are to crush the foe.
We need more tanks, more ‘planes, more guns
We need them all to beat the Huns
The road to victory we can pave
If all will do their best to save.
We’ve got the men, they’ve proved their worth
In every corner of the earth
Our need today is £.S.D.
Each shilling helps to keep us free.
Great Britain always has been free
The ruler of the mighty sea
If everyone will do his bit
Britain can still be greater yet.
Our Provost asks a million pounds
Paisley with patriots abounds
If each will save that little more
Above that figure we can soar.
Go to it, Paisley, show your mettle
And Hitler’s heroes we’ll quickly settle
Soon then this dreadful war will cease
And we shall live once more in peace.
© L/Cpl. Alexander Barr. 193 Field. Amb. R.A.S.C.
Alexander Barr’s photo and poem can be found at Article ID: A5748933 BBC People at War website, www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/33/a5748933
Remarkably a short silent black and white 3 minute film exists of the Paisley War Weapons Week 1941 inaugural procession parades in the National Library of Scotland archive http://ssa.nls.uk/film.cfm?fid=3469 amongst several other Paisley clips.
The film shows according to their archivist a “pipe band leading a procession of navy, army, home guard(?), women’s army, police force and the fire brigade through the streets, past crowds and the Lord Provost of Glasgow and army officers standing on the rostrum taking the salute. Procession along the streets past the La Scala cinema and shops.”
Somewhere amongst the crowds on the film may have been a young Peggy Skinner! Amongst the parade may also have been her Home Guard father William Ernest Skinner, an engineer and draughtsman from London, working for the war effort in Paisley.
Part of the fundraising drive and parades through Paisley was a crashed German fighter plane, 4 (S) /LG 2 Bf109E White N flown by Ofw. Josef Harmeling which was shot down or force-landed at Langenhoe near Wick, Essex on 29th October 1940. According to Larry Hickey and Peter Cornwell, the plane was widely displayed “across Northern England and Southern Scotland in support of several local War Weapons Weeks and visited many towns including Glasgow and Paisley during late November 1940…” Source: http://forum.12oclockhigh.net
Closer to our World War Zoo Gardens project base at Newquay Zoo, we have in our collection an interesting example of a competition to design a poster for local and evacuee schoolchildren, in this case Benenden School. These girls were of similar age to Peggy Skinner.
We will post a little more of Peggy’s 1940 Christmas diary this week, so you can read it day by day 75 years on, a little of the everyday lives and anxieties of wartime folk.
Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.