|Abstract||During the past month (September 1979) we have been subjected
to a great deal of news items by press, radio and television,
regarding the "day war broke out", but the most happiest and
thankful time was when it ended. I arrived home on 30th April
1945 from Europe where I had been serving in "Amgot" a term
coined by the U.S. Army for "Allied Military Government
Occupied Territories", which had hastily been altered to
"Civil Affairs" as the abbreviation was a Turkish word meaning
"horse manure". I had not been home for nearly five years,
and what vast changes I found. Tank traps, pill-boxes,
conical and cylindrical concrete objects scattered throughout
the countryside, and sand-bagged enclosures at strategic
positions in the villages. This locality was a prohibited zone,
only authorised or persons with residential qualifications
allowed in, but it gave rise to some amusing incidents more
especially because all place naneplates and signposts had been
removed. On one occasion a staff car with red tabbed officers
drew alongside a farmworker at the cross-roads and one officer
enquired the name of the locality. The farm-worker remembering
that "careless talk costs lives" gave a noncommittal answer,
whereupon the officer said "For a local man you don't know
much", whereupon the farm-worker replied, "No, but oi aint
There were still units of the Royal Artillery in the
area, and local exercises had been arranged with the Home
Guard units, the R.A.s being the invading forces.
On one such occasion an exhausted and mud be-spattered
soldier was heard to remark, "If anyone thinks Hitler
would attempt to land here they must be crazy."
Apparently members of the Home Guard instead of defending
had to rescue the soldiers from the treacherous mud of the creeks.
Strict food rationing was in force, as was motor fuel.
This did not affect me as being posted on leave I was attached
to Colchester Garrison for rations, but one thing which
affected all workers and gardeners who were "digging for
Victory" was the fact that there was an extremely acute
shortage of beer. Soft drinks were strictly reserved for
the children, and the lorry loads of U.S.A.A.F personnel
who descended periodically on the villages for evening
entertainment found that they too were denied their
favourite drink of "Coke". Early each evening cycle
patrols would be sent out to the surrounding villages
to ascertain the position regarding the supply of beer.
Back would come the reports "There is beer, but the
natives are decidedly hostile", but not so in the case of
Salcott-cum-Virley, which had lost the "White Hart"
during the war now temporarily replaced at that time by
a wooden structure, and of course the "Sun" which had
figured in the book "Mistress of Broadmarsh" as the
"Rising Star", and a rising star it was at that most
stringent time, inasmuch that there would be a welcome.
Not to spoil the concession the information was kept as
secret as possible, and gradually a trickle of men on
cycles, horse-drawn carts and the baker's van would
descend on the "Sun" to slake their thirst.
I well remember the first time I entered the "Sun" to find
some of the locals already seated on a form in the
passageway facing the bar hatchway, and eyeing us
"furriners" somewhat sceptically. However, Mr. Back
the then proprietor, indicated that we could use the
tap-room or the saloon. I was ushered into the
saloon, which apparently was infrequently used,
but what a revelation ! It was like stepping back into
the turn of the century. A scrupulously
clean room, but what a collector's gem.
Furnished with antique furniture, the mantlepieces
draped, and anti-macassars on the backs of the Victorian
armchairs. What immediately caught one's attention
were the various tobacco and cigarette advertisements,
"A.1." and "Franklyn's Shag", "B.D.V." and "Black Cat"
cigarettes, long since superseded by other brands, the
whole dominated by a large gilt framed print depicting
"The Relief of Mafeking." One could, well imagine members
of the "CIV" using that room in 1902, as there were a
number of Boer War veterans living in this locality at
The war in Europe was rapidly drawing to a close.
Come 8th May 1945 this terrible conflict ended, and
quickly plans were formulated to hold open-air Thanksgiving
Services which embraced all denominations, and were very
well attended. Incredibly, war work still went on,
bevies of beautiful young local women were still engaged
on making hammocks, tow-lines for gliders, and elderly
men were busy making scrambling nets and rope ladders in
all manner? of empty barns, sheds and yacht stores,
but then the war in the Pacific had still to be won.
By the 20th July 1945 I did not relish the thought of
going into the "Control Commission Germany" which had
replaced "Civil Affairs" or "C.4 Branch", I had seen quite
enough of how the civilian populations had been treated
by officialdom in Europe. I was demobilised and allowed
to return to my former employment. However, this was not
before I had the very great pleasure of attending the
weddings of a number of local folk who had been serving in