Methley History Snippets
Life & times 1939-45 War
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Christine Wadsworth of
Wakefield Libraries and Information Services on behalf of Don Nicholls and has
been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the
site’s terms and conditions.
These are some of my memories of the years during the 1939-45 War. War was
declared on the 3rd September, the day before my 13th birthday. I had been to
Sunday School and on the Sunday morning after Sunday School we were told to go
to Glasshoughton Junior and Infants School to be issued with gas masks.
I remember my parents putting blackout curtains up at the windows and the air
raid warnings that for a short spell in 1941, went off on a regular basis at
One of the main things I remember are soldiers being billeted in the Methodist
Sunday School Institute situated at the top of the steps leading from Leeds Road
up to School Lane. They said that they had been rescued after Dunkirk - I think
that they were the Royal West Kent Regiment.
After leaving school at 14 years old, I got a job at Wilf Poskitts in Airedale,
making and repairing crates for Lumb's Bottle Works. After a short spell - this
was in the early part of the War - I was asked to do fire watching duty. We were
given a bucket of water, a bucket of sand and a stirrup pump in case any
incendiary bombs were dropped on the timber yard.
My next job was with J L Rodgers, who were building contractors and had joined
up with both Poskitts and a firm of plumbers and electricians. These contractors
worked together and managed to get a firm contract with the Govenment building
and maintaining army camps in the local area.
This was quite interesting and enjoyable work. Some of the
places we were employed at were Methley Hall Estate which belonged to the Earl
of Mexborough, Hickleton Hall near Doncaster the home of Lord Halifax and Byram
Park and Pontefract Barracks. We also worked on numerous farms and farm
buildings that had been commandeered by the Army and needed repairs and
maintenance. Methley Hall was a base for the Royal Artillery and had a big
searchlight battery. Pontefract Barracks was a training depot for the ATS.
Another army camp was erected in the stands on Pontefract racecourse - I think
that this would be in the years 1942-43. We put nissan huts alongside the main
stand. The soldiers billeted there formed the Reconnaissance Regiment and were
fitted out with scout cars and light scouting vehicles for the Desert Campaign.
During the early years of the War I joined the 294 Squadron of the Air Training
Corps and did my squarebashing in the playground of the then Boys Modern School.
I was 18 on the 4th September ’44 and got my calling up papers to join the army
six weeks later in October 1944. My basic training was for the first six weeks,
which I did at Ballykinder Barracks in Northern Ireland. After this I was posted
to the Royal Engineers and after a spell at Southhampton went on through France,
Belgium, Germany, Austria and then to Northern Italy. I was then posted to
Egypt, Palestine and Trans Jordan attached to the First Armoured Division, which
took me through to my demob from the Army in February 1948.
After serving with the Royal Engineers in countries across the world, I was glad
to get back home to see my parents and family.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author.
Contributed by Wakefield Libraries & Information Services
People in story: Don Nicholls
Location of story: Castleford, West Yorkshire; Europe; Africa; Palestine
Background to story: Army
Article ID: A7068981
Contributed on: 18 November 2005
Methley Archive - 1st November 2011 -
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