I was born on 12th of June 1926. I represented Warwickshire farmers in the Victory Parade at the end of the Second World War. My dad was secretary of Farm Workers’ Union in Warwick. He knew the general secretary of the National Farm Workers’ Union, who was looking for somebody to go in the parade. So he asked my dad if I would go and my dad accepted, so I went. I think the parade was in 1945 [actually June 8th 1946], at the end of the War. I remember, I went on the train and then took the tube to the address there. There was a soldier at the place and he showed us where to go. There were six of us in my group, each one from a different county.
Proud, but uncomfortable
I don’t like parades so I remember I was not very happy being there, though I was proud to go. There was a bit of a rehearsal at first then we went there on the parade. When we reached the Cenotaph, they said eyes right, and we saluted. I had been in the army so, of course, I knew about this kind of discipline and the saluting. It was manic on the day there so I did not stay for the evening and did not see the fireworks etc. They provided us with passes so I got back to Warwick on the same day.
Yes, I saw all the royalty. This was King George VI, at this time. Of course, I am the same age as our queen! My photo was printed in the Farmers Weekly magazine. My dad saw it and said, look, there’s the photo of you. We asked the Farmers Weekly and they sent us a copy so we had it enlarged. It has been in my hall all these years. My friends and some of those coming to the house have seen it before. The farm workers are seen at the far end of the photo and the girls of the Land Army, who were also there, are seen at the nearer end, in front of the Cenotaph.
Keeping the country going
The farm workers were asked to go to the parade, you see, because they had kept the country going during the War. They had grown food for everyone and the forces. Our family had lived in Birmingham till the war came. Though we lived on the outskirts of the city, they had installed an anti-aircraft battery near us, which became a target of enemy bombing. Some of the houses near us were bombed and we got bombed too. I was about 14 at this time and just out of school, doing my first job at Chad Valley Toys. We saw this enemy Recon plane and the tut-tut-tut of anti-aircraft fire one day; they got him in the end, of course, but I remember that plane flying and the shooting at it.
This article was published as part of the Warwickshire in 100 Objects project, part of Warwickshire Bytes.