In September 1939 Britain prepared for war…and decided to take a register of everyone living at the time…later this information would form the basis of the National Health Service in 1948. It was a working record and was updated as the years went by… for example, women’s maiden names being replaced by their married names when they wed.
Dad was living in Maidstone with his parents and younger brother, Ronald, his father working as a boot shop manager in the centre of Maidstone. My grandfather worked in the shop until his death at the age of 65 in 1958, although my grandmother went on to live until 1978 when she was 80… still living in the same house.
Dad was working at a cycle and radio manufacturer in Maidstone as a ledger clerk, and was then 17 years old. His younger brother, Ron, was just 15 and probably still at school.
The photo shows him about 16/17 years old sitting at the French windows of the house on St Philip’s Avenue, Maidstone. He looks so young…but about two years later he was to enlist in the RAF and put himself in the firing-line as an air-gunner in Bomber Command.
Here is his entry in the 1939 register…he was at the top of the page with his parents at the bottom of the previous page and his brother still blacked out for privacy reasons due to his birth year.
Little did they then know that both Bill and Ron would make it through that war and that their parents, Arthur and Lavinia, would not get bombed out of their home during the terrible bombing of the early war.
And, thankfully, because of that… I’m here to tell his story!