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Friday, April 17, 2015

LAWS FAMILY REGISTER Apr 17 Number 488




Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 

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One Man’s War – A bit about the RAF

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008

Part 1.

I was seventeen when WWII began, some twenty-one years after WWI had ended. It had been becoming inevitable for some time. A year’s respite had been gained by Neville Chamberlain’s trip to Munich but that didn’t do much good in the long run. At Eleven o’clock on that sunny Sunday morning the third of September he broadcast his declaration of war against Germany. About ten minutes later the air raid sirens sounded – a false alarm but the nervous went scuttling into the newly dug Anderson shelters in their gardens.



The occupation of Poland took the German army only a few weeks and then we were into the ‘phoney war’ when very little appeared to be happening in mainland Europe. The sea war of attrition stated and clothing and petrol rationing were introduced. I had been working in the city for a couple of years articled to a small firm of Chartered Accountants. Young men were being called up into the forces and all businesses suffered a degree of disruption. 

The firm seemed to slow down and I often had time available to go to the Students Room at the Institute to study. From time to time I travelled to provincial towns to work on audits there. The blackout was even more noticeable in unfamiliar towns than at home but the difficulty caused by the cutting down on vehicle headlights was limited by the small number of vehicles and petrol rationing.



The war burst into activity with the German armoured offensive that outflanked the Maginot line and led to the fall of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk. I was having a cycling holiday in Devon and Cornwall, mostly in beautiful sunshine with scarcely a motor car to be seen. Tea in the Doone Valley, as much as you could eat for a shilling and bed and breakfast for three shillings and six pence, a four-poster bed and the loo in the garden.

The first I saw of the real war was one sunny weekend afternoon. I was out on my own in the Hertfordshire countryside when the distant rumble of engines made me look up, and there, far above me, were formations of silvery aircraft swinging to the south where they let go their bombs on the London docks with devastating effect. 
This must have been early September 1940. The Battle of Britain followed and then the night bombing of London. A blackout had been in force from the beginning of the war, but London was a pretty broad target. The bombers were unopposed at first but before long the anti-aircraft were in place and then the noise was intense though somewhat comforting. If one were out at night it often seemed that the showers of shell splinters from the anti-aircraft barrage were a greater hazard than the bombs. I often used to ride my bike home from my girlfriend’s to the accompaniment of the patter of shrapnel on the rooftops. In late December the warehouse area of the city burned in a fire raid which we could see from North London. When I went to work in the city the next morning the firemen were still hard at it and I saw that the place where my father worked was just debris with the rest.

Men became liable to call-up for the forces at gradually lower ages and Bill Bush and I decided that it wasn’t worth waiting for call up with little choice what you did, so early in 1941, we went up to the recruiting office at Kings Cross and joined the RAF. We both got accepted as aircrew and it was not long till we had to report for training. We were separated from the word go as Bill was recommended for a commission and I wasn’t. When it came to the crunch it finally worked out the other way around.

Training facilities were overloaded and so, after some basic training of square-bashing and arms drill, we landed up on other jobs. One started off with the rank of AC2 there was nothing lower, and pay of pennies a day paid out fortnightly at a pay parade. I did my basic training at Skegness which was certainly bracing but there was nothing difficult about marching up and down and sticking bayonets into bags of straw. This done I was posted to Mildenhall to work as an armourer. All I remember of it was that we took the bombs from the bomb dump to the aircraft on trolleys and rode on them round the perimeter track pulled by a tractor. The aircraft were Vickers Wellingtons of 149 Squadron and had a gun turret in the tail with four browning which took a long ribbon of ammunition. I wasn’t trusted to deal with this as I had no training at all as an armourer.

After a little while I was put on a pre EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) course at South Cerney in Gloucestershire, I remember nothing of the course but it must have been May because the horse chestnuts were in full bloom in the park of the big house at Cirencester. Queen Mary was staying there and did some sort of inspection in the town. Being long in the leg I got put in the Guard of Honour and saw the old bird at close quarters. 

The only other thing of note at South Cerney was that swimming was available in a large water filled gravel pit for a very small charge; I used to go there with two or three other keen types and swim around in the sunshine in the biggest pool we were ever likely to use. We didn’t ask how deep it was, but it was undoubtedly for confident swimmers only.             

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Family Events from our database for today April 17



1765 - Marriage: George QUINSEE-3343 and Sarah LAWS-3344, Chatteris CAM UK

                                                          Chatteris Cambridgeshire

1775 - Marriage: James MURRAY-7554 and Ann LAWS-7553, Southwark SRY UK

                                                       Southwark Cathedral Surrey

1793 - Death: George LAWES-43252, Homington WIL UK (St Michaels)
1794 - Baptism: Amelia LAWES-1368, Warminster WIL UK
1805 - Marriage: Edward HOBDAY-8018 and Ann LAWS-7156, Folkestone KEN UK

                                                                  Folkestone Kent

1817 - Birth: Samuel LAWES-30590, Hevingham NFK UK
1837 - Birth: Edward LAWS (Mayor of Tenby /J P) -3032, Lamphrey PEM UK
1853 - Birth: Samuel LAWS (Gamekeeper) -8931, Thurne NFK UK
1861 - Occupation: Thomas LAWS (Steerage Steward) -51774,
1879 - Burial: Samuel LAWES (Teamster) -29989, Booton NFK UK

                                                                  Booton Norfolk

1891 - Birth: Leonard George LAWES (Tailors Designer) LAWS-58259, Camberwell SRY UK
1895 - Birth: Herbert Joseph LAWS (ARMY Private 23/375) -41841, Bedlington NBL UK
1896 - Birth: Marie Louise LAWS-34908,
1911 - Birth: Barbara LAWS-41908, Newcastle upon Tyne NBL UK

                                               Newcastle upon Tyne Northumberland UK

1912 - Birth: Alton LAWS (PFC US Army Air Force)) -37889,
1914 - Residence: Horace Colville LAWS (Sugar Sales Director) -45841, Belmount Hotel NYC NY
           &  Southport LAN UK
1915 - Miscellaneous: Ellen Maria LAWS (Scholar) -5415,
1915 - Will  Proved: William FrederickLAWS (Miller) -5414,
1917 - Death: James Robert LAWS (Slater & Roof Tiler) -43211, FRANCE
1917 - Birth: Robert Harry LAWS (Economist) -39392, Mountain City TN USA
1918 - Death: Ralph LAWS (ARMY Private 32203) -45123,
1925 - Will Proved: Robert LAWS-9194,
1926 - Marriage: John Barker PARFECT(Fruit Salesman) -120880 and Lillie Poppy Ladysmith                    LAWS (Clerk) -36752, Great Ilford ESS UK (St Jomes)
1932 - Miscellaneous: John Claude Bennett LAWES-234,
1935 - Birth: Bettie Louisa LAWS-123848, Bethany Tnp NC USA
1935 - Birth: Peter Leslie LAWES-118700,
1935 - Miscellaneous: Charles LAWS (Surveyor (Rtd) -4851,
1936 - Birth: Donald Edgar LAWS-3519,
1937 - Miscellaneous: Samuel Charles LAWS (University Principal OBE ) -4032,
1938 - Death: Arthur G LAWS-167523, Winnebago Co IL United States
1940 - Miscellaneous: Redvers Roberts Henry LAWS (Civil Servant) -36662,
1940 - Will Proved: Alfred Ernest George LAWS (Elementary School Master) -36156,
1942 - Birth: Colin LAWES (Company Director) -103748,
1944 - Birth: Edward Francis LAWS-115324, Brentford MDX UK
1945 - Birth: John Charles LAWES-267, Romford ESS UK
1946 - Birth: Richard Quentin LAWS-50979,
1946 - Miscellaneous: Claude Jonanthan LAWS (Australian Army) -32317,
1949 - Death: Charles Adolph LAWS-41009, Los Angeles CA United States
1952 - Miscellaneous: Eva Jane LAWS-36830,
1957 - Birth: Brian William LAWS (Company Director) -39977, Edmonton MDX UK
1961 - Miscellaneous: Thomas LAWES (Retired Omnibus Inspector) -124225,
1979 - Burial: Patrick Francis Joseph LAWS (Labourer) -49576, Christchurch NZ
1996 - Death: Harold Burnett LAWS-120222, Darlington NRY UK
1997 - Death: Alva Lincoln LAWS-39459, Cottage Grove OR USA
2004 - Marriage: James MARK (Services & 2012 Games Director at ExCeL London (Treasurer of                Dr. Schweitzer's Hospital Fund) -38005 and Felicity Clare LAWS- (My Niece) 7843,
           Bishops Stortford HRT UK
2004 - Death: Sandra LAWS-34454, Regional Medical Center, Spartanburg SC USA

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