Bulletin 398

A.T.S. Stories

by Irene Smith

(A talk on October 16th after the A.G.M.)

The Auxiliary Territorial Service started in 1934 as a group of women Volunteers, allied to the British Army. There has always been some association between the Regular Army and the women – originally quite informally – “camp followers” was one description – but a precedent was set in the early 1900s when a proper nursing service was founded – the Q.As, and the A.T.S. itself was formally so named in 1938. During the Second World War, conscription began for this service, and also involved the WRENS and WAAFS for the other services.

Obviously what began with a group of likeminded women, created the situation for forming strong friendships, which endured, and survived considerable trials caused by the endless parades and formal drilling on parade grounds and elsewhere, often under the gaze of Sergeant Majors schooled in drilling unruly or unwilling males.

Camp was obviously that of huts (very basic) equipped with straw mattresses on bunks, separated by lockers, in which one could store ones attire – the khaki knickers included.

Jobs required were those of carpentry, clerks, mechanics, and welders, all rather ‘ordinary’ sounding, but quite basic, and for real specialization, gun sight duties on anti aircraft batteries were vital. Inactivity lead to attendance at lectures, spiced with inspections for head lice.

All this activity was confined to Britain during the most of the war, but after V.E. day – services were required in Europe – some routine, but some labelled “hush- hush”.

However our lecturer found herself posted across the Atlantic, and was on the great ocean liner “Ile de France”, acting as a Troopship, returning soldiers to North America, and landed in Halifax, from where she eventually wended her way to Washington, to get sorted out, only to be told that she was to go to Jamaica – via Miami, and eventually succeeded. However with the shortage of sea passages back to the U.K., it was some time before she was able to return home, to a more conventional existence, and pick up on her old friendships. Review JR.

Social & Quiz; the annual rave-up.

Our Chairman was unable to be with us for this event and his Deputy, Alan Stoyel, opened the proceedings, followed by a few words from the President, who was responsible for compiling and presenting the Quiz.

This year, the quiz of forty questions had a very respectable response, the winner, Julia Reid, achieving thirty-five and a half points. The raffle was so generously supplied by members that many ticket-holders won more than one prize, which again, generously, they requested that the subsequent wins were to be “put back in the bag”.

There was a wonderfully tasty array of things to eat, which were plentiful and a joy to the palate. The display of the Christmas fare was tastefully arranged by the ever willing Nancy Wheatland. How ever did we manage before Nancy and Mark moved the Kington?

It was great to see our old friend John Potts on duty at the door, assisted, as always by dear Thelma. Our usual trusty members were quick to clear up and everything was put in order by ten o’clock.

Our thanks to all who participated in making this event such a happy one.   Vera Harrison


Dates for your Diary

January 15th 2016 7.30pm Kington Primary School “Agricultural equipment from a by-gone era”
Barry Evans has a unique hobby of making models of by-gone agricultural equipment, he has accumulated quite a collection some of which you may have seen at other exhibitions in Kington town. He will not only display these models but talk about them and how they worked from the mid 18th century to mid 19th century. This collection is a prime example of how things were done long ago, how men and machines worked together using animal and man power only to perform tasks around the farm and small industrial areas. So come along and be transported to a time forgotten with no Diesel fumes or “cyber” technology of today.

Friday Feb 19th 7.30pm Kington primary School “Kington Houses” talk by Duncan James
Duncan James is a popular speaker and an expert on black & white houses so we have invited him back to give us an insight on the houses in Kington.   He will be viewing a wide range of houses in Kington to see what they can tell us now & what they might be able to tell us in the future through a closer, more detailed study.

A few interiors will be shown to illustrate how historic interest & importance maybe hidden in the town. Not to be missed if you want to learn more about our Market town of Kington!
Just enough space to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Editor:   V. Harrison