Express & Star

Letters: Remembering wartime Christmas in 1944 Wolverhampton

A reader remembers the generous folk of Wolverhampton at Christmas 75 years ago.

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Queen Square, Wolverhampton, 1944

Times change but not people

Christmas Eve 1944, my father had been a prisoner of war for almost five years. He escaped from Dunkirk then sent to Egypt then on to Crete, where like so many others was taken prisoner. He left behind my mother and three very young children.

We got ready to go to town, throwing a very old shoe on the fire, followed by an old cabbage leaf, hoping it would last till our return! We set off at around 4pm, my brother and I had on our freshly darned socks covering our hands, gloves were for the rich at this time!

We caught the bus for town opposite the Clifton cinema Fallings Park, and alighted in Stafford Street, then walked to the market. My mom carried a shopping basket of the time, and in it one or two brown paper carrier bags. The market at that time was next to St Peter’s church, with the indoor market by its side.

It must have been getting on for 4.30pm when we arrived at the market, the stall holders were just beginning to close, some already doubting their paraffin lamps. We had arrived at the appointed time specified by my mom, we started to go around the market picking up the fruit and veg from the floor, which had fallen off the market stalls during the day. The stall holders never said nothing, as we filled our brown paper carrier bags to the brim. Then with mom in the lead we made our way into the inside market hall, this too was in the thrones of closing.

We made our way to the man who was auctioning off the fowl, he had very few left. He looked at us, and the good lord must have whispered in his ear, for he gave my mom a chicken. My mom was simply overcome, for he had saved our rent money, God bless him!

Back home my mom and sister got to work on the chicken, firstly chopping off his head, then plucking its feathers, then drawing its inners, I can still 76 years on smell the odours of that chicken!

Time for bed before the big man came, first make sure that the galvanised bucket on the landing was empty, this served the purpose of an upstairs toilet, for it was too cold to go outside in the middle of the night! Then a quick look through the bedroom window, after you had cleaned the frost inside the window pane, all was peaceful.

Next job on the eve was to hang up our long socks on the bed posts, then hope above hope the big man would not overlook us on this special night.

We woke early, my brother and I, our socks were laden with the fruit we had gathered from the floor of the market. On my pillow was a teddy bear, I was thrilled. I know it had only one eye and one arm but I gave it a love that lasted a year, then passed it down!

Through the years I have learnt that times change, but not people!

James M Barrett, Fallings Park

Channel keeps bashing Boris

It’s been good recently for the BBC and their Labour Party lovers and those viewers who prefer the ‘out of the ordinary’, personally I prefer Carol, or even Sky News.

My wife however prefers certain aspects of the BBC Morning News, and I therefore have to listen to their left wing presenters continually pulling the Conservative Party apart, whilst affording the Opposition or any one who is willing to stir the pot as much time as they need. But I do insist, when the queen of “pose and interruption” sits aloof, wiggling her foot to show the latest new shoes, and sounding like someone with a bad attack of sinusitis, the sub-titles are switched on.

The BBC is supposed to be an independent broadcaster, but this is no longer the case and the majority of its programmes are very poor and cannot be rated as a subscription channel. It is out-dated and the government must take steps to cancel the yearly fee, especially when £87 million is being spent on a new set for EastEnders, it really is rubbing it in.

I would also ask why they criticise Boris for his so-called Christmas party, when they do not say a word about the thousands who have yet to have a single jab against Covid and who are filling our hospitals every day, it is mainly these people who are bringing the NHS to its knees.

Derek Bodley, Bilbrook

Welcome help in times of need

Regarding the letter of December 9 from Mr Potts. When I am preparing a food parcel at a local food bank where I volunteer, I don’t know the financial situation of the person I am making the parcel for, but the agency who has referred the person most probably has some idea.

Thankfully I have never had the need to use a food bank, but there has always been at least one wage supporting the family, nevertheless it was a considerable help when grandparents offered to help with the cost of school shoes.

Perhaps when Mr Potts is in the supermarket shopping, he would consider dropping a tube of toothpaste, toothbrushes or washing powder into the food bank donation box on his way out, as these items are often in short supply.

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