Wednesday, June 15, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Dutton Advance During WWII, Part One

"Downtown Dutton," 1939 courtesy of Elgin County Archives 
     One of my favorite things to do with history, and a lot of times with this blog, is to examine something familiar and local and tie it in with the bigger picture of world events at the time. As I learned during my employment last summer at Elgin County Archives, one of the easiest and most interesting ways to do so is to look at local newspapers. Already, we've seen some letters home from local soldiers which were featured in the Dutton Advance during the First and Second World Wars, but I thought that it might be interesting to take a closer look at how the newspaper itself adapted to wartime demands. With particular regard to the Second World War, I found a great resource for excerpts from wartime editions of the Advance in Maridon Duncanson's Heaps of Love, Mum:Stories of the Second World War Years in Dutton, Ontario From the Letters of Elona Bambridge. This volume is available for purchase at Backus-Page House Museum for those who are interested in further Advance material, or in reading the wonderful story that Ms. Duncanson tells through a selection of its articles. Without further ado, here are some of the newsworthy pieces from wartime Dutton!

April 18, 1940
Read for Relief From War-Strain
     Public libraries can contribute enormously to the "nerve tone" of the civilian population in wartime, Miss Winnifred Kydd, former dean of women at Queen's University, told the Ontario Library Association at its fortieth annual conference. 
     Miss Kydd said reading exerted a steadying influence on nerves subjected to the strain of war. By keeping people informed and expanding their knowledge, she added, it helped to prepare them for the peace to follow.
Local Briefs
     Donald Graham has joined the R.C.A.F.
     Buddy Rogers, his orchestra and show company, will open the dancing season at the Port Stanley ballroom on Friday, May 3rd.

May 30, 1940
Red Cross Society
     An urgent appeal for hospital supplies and refugee clothing has been sent out through the Provincial headquarters of the Society to all branches and in response the local workroom will be open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5p.m. and Saturday evenings from 8 to 10. The Canadian Red Cross had made stores, which had already been shipped overseas, available to both British and French Red Cross as well as cabling a large sum of money. The women at home are asked to replenish these supplies and that there will be an immediate response from local workers there is no doubt. Provincial headquarters is asking for surgical towels, rolled bandages, hospital bedgowns, pyjamas, pillow cases, all kinds of refugee clothes and all types of knitting except wristlets and knee caps.
The Dutton Advance
June 6, 1940
Citizens Ready to Receive Refugee Children from Europe
     Dutton and Dunwich residents have shown a commendable degree of cooperation with the rest of Elgin in the campaign to place refugee children from war-torn Europe in homes in this locality.
     Organizations to care for the youngsters being brought to safety from Nazi frightfulness have been set up under the Children's Aid Society of the city and county and there has been a ready response to the appeal for material and shelter. 
     Temporary accommodations are being provided for the children on their arrival in the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A. The immediate need is for used or new mattresses, sleeping bags, wool blankets and quilts.
     Records are to be kept of all the refugees, with their photographs, when they arrive, in order that full details may be available in the event of parents being alive and later seeking their little ones. There is a possibility that numbers of the children have been separated from their parents during the evacuation of Belgium and Holland. Efforts will be made to get the history of each child, its age, what town or village it is from and also the names of parents and brothers and sisters.

August 22, 1940
D. M. Treadgold, Louis Burns, John Bambridge and Harold Haines are in camp at London with the second Elgin battalion.

October 31, 1940
John Ruston Awarded Trophy for Most Proficient Air Observer Student
     The Edmonton Journal of October 24th contains a report of the first graduation from Edmonton's No. 2 Air Observer school of which John B, Ruston, of Dutton, was a member. Mr. Ruston was awarded a trophy as the most proficient air observer student. The Journal's report of the graduation in part follows:
     "First graduation class from Edmonton's No. 2 Air Observer school, a group of keen, hard working young men who know their way around the skies, was congratulated by Hon. J. C. Bowen, lieutenant governor at the training grounds Thursday... He had special words of praise for Leading Aircraftman J. B. Ruston of Dutton, most proficient student."
     From Edmonton the graduates go to a bombing and gunnery school for a six-weeek course and from there to an advanced school for a four-week course in celestial navigation. The course totals 26 weeks. 

     I hope you all enjoyed the first edition of this feature, and will be looking forward to future posts with this theme. As always, I'd love to hear any anecdotes or connections to he names featured in this week's material!
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

No comments: