Reflections: World War 2

The Home Guard

We had to do manoeuvres. The Lancashire Regiment was stationed at Carlton Mill at the bottom of Highfield Road and later the Royal Engineers came to Low Moor. They put us through our paces from a manoeuvring point of view and they sometimes made us look rather silly. Early one Sunday morning we’d been called out round about midnight and, as usual, the exercises were anticipated but we didn’t know a set time. Someone would knock on the door and you had to turn out and report. On this occasion we were protecting the main supply intake at King Lane and one of the Royal Engineers who was in overalls and apparently a civilian came up and asked if we could tell him where he could get digs. Then he asked someone if they could provide a light for a cigarette and that was quickly volunteered. As soon as the cigarette was lit he had a firework in his hand, he lit that, threw it in the substation and said `You’re out of commission now’. That was an exercise and we lost!

The Castle and the Food Office in WW2

The food office was up in Castle House during the Second War. There were two or three of them in the office, including Mr. Braithwaite, and you had to go there to get your ration books.
In the Second War you had to go up to Castle House for ration cards and things like that, that’s where the food office was based. You went into this room, I can’t remember which one now, and there was a man and a woman working there issuing you with your ration books.

During the Second War the Food Office was in what they now call the Clitheroe Room, the one with the mayors robes and suchlike in. It was where people used to come for their ration cards.

During the war, in that little garden behind Castle House, below the lookout, they grew vegetables in there. Other parts of the grounds were also given over for growing vegetables as well – you had to in those days. It was all part of the war effort.

The L.S.D. – Local Services Defence – they were up there in the Second World War. Tom Battersby was in, George Waddington and Joe Dewhurst, there were lots of them. Anyway they were going up the castle grounds for something and Joe had a gun, he said `I think it works alright.’ When he was at the side of the keep and he just fired it, and bang the bullet went in the keep so the tale went. They were based up there in the cellars I think.

At one time the room in the museum that is now called The Mineral World was used by the Civil Defence Officer, and the larger room beyond it was used as the training room. The Civil Defence Corps did their training there on Monday nights. After the war it was Civil Defence training because the government of the day decided that they could not be sure there wasn’t going to be a nuclear attack, and the government policy was that they had to have trained volunteers. There were rescue departments which dealt with how to deal with buildings collapsed all over Clitheroe with people in them, someone had to be trained enough to get down there, drive vehicles, get to them, get them out and give them immediate treatment. There was also the intelligence side which was to sort of work out if there was going to be an attack, when and how, and there was also different divisions for all the different services that would be needed. People were training like mad on first aid and it was also for emergencies like train crashes and things. There was quite a large number of volunteers, all in these different sections training for what they hoped would never happen – namely a nuclear war. It was very time consuming, Civil Defence, because you’d to train every Monday night up the castle and then, at the drop of a hat, you could be told that you’d be out on the moors doing exercises at weekend imaging that there had been a nuclear attack and dealing with it. This was in the 1950’s. Before that, during the Second War, the ARP and suchlike were up in Castle House, it was their headquarters and the cellars were considered to be the only safe place in Clitheroe because of where it is, and what it was under. The big iron shutters that are down there now were put up as an air-raid precaution to stop blasts and for blackout protection. In other words if there was going to be bombing or shelling or whatever in Clitheroe the Civil Defence Corps would go down there.