Friday, 7 November 2008

Harveys at War

One of the 'Harco' Magazines is for September 1940 - and it is full of wartime arrangements. The first page and the first headline reads 'After the Siren'. This is all about spotters on the roof of the factory and what workers should do when they blow their whistles. They also say that the families of employees can use the works Dugouts at night - and can bring in their bedding. Another article points out that the canteen is much busier since families have fled London leaving men to feed themselves! There is a long list of employees who are now in the Forces - the Company was sending them each a monthly packet of 50 cigarettes. Articles follow - 'When the Raiders Come' - 'The Empire's Resources'- 'United States Aircraft to help in Britain's fight' - 'Compensation for air raid victims' - 'The Home Guard'. The issue however ends with five pages of sports news and this begins and ends with news of the Rifle Section -reporting there that 'normal activities had to be abandoned as the range was required for the Factory Defence Force ... it was rather unfortunate as we had just managed to win a match ... and had hoped to leave the bottom position in the League Table'.
Contemporary material like this gives us a very close view of ordinary people and their reactions in wartime. In late 1940 people are still feeling their way through the situation - doing what they can, really not sure. I remember reading the Greenwich Labour Party minute books for this period and seeing how by 1941 devastation and shock was hitting the civilian population - but then within 18 months, much quicker than I would have expected, people really were positive and planning a new and better post war world. I wonder if these factory magazines will echo that.
Most interesting is the 'News Reel of Nazi Europe' - which describes how workers, particularly trade unionists, were being executed all over Europe by the Nazi's (although I don't suppose that the Harvey's management would have encouraged strikes). They say "Hitler, who has always posed as the friend of the workers, has .. launched savage attacks upon the workers of every state into which his hordes have marches ........................inadequate rations, bad pay, brutal treatment and the ruthless stamping out of every spark of freedom'

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