Characters Methley Cricket Club World War 2

Roy Eastwood – Nonagenarian

Roy Eastwood – Roy brings a long and eventful contribution to this village interspersed with a varied military career in the RAF with postings to many parts of Europe and North Africa during the war along with later demanding posts in the mental health disciplines at Oulton Asylum and Stanley Royd.
Roy belies his nonagenarian status, still observing, and taking part in many aspects of Methley. I look forward to changing the description of the title to Centenarian at a later time.

An incomplete apprenticeship in the clothing industry was brought about with his entry into the RAF following the outbreak of war.  After initial training and that beloved square bashing enjoyed by all recruits his first posting was to the Isle of Man as an armourer – attaching bombs, cannon and bullets to wartime aircraft.   He also assisted in arming Lysander aircraft with armaments and then observe the accuracy of shooting practise at drogues (targets) being towed in the air.
Further postings included N Ireland for 12 months, then on to Liverpool for embarkation to the Mediterranean.  Here his outfit, part of a huge convoy were split when his RAF flotilla was deployed to Algeria, then Malta.  It was in Valletta that he was to come across Bernard Russell of this village returning from operations in the Far East.  A second posting back to Algeria (this was after the Eighth Army Campaign and success at El Alamein) saw Roy in line for a move out to the Far East which did not materialise and therefore did not interfere with his return home and demobilisation. 

So there he was, plus two new demob suits but no vacancies in the tailoring industry!  It was then when he sought out employment training as a male nurse at the Oulton Hall Asylum, then on to working with the mentally disabled at Stanley Royd and was to end his career in the health industry after a stint supplying materials to hospitals

His post war interests included re-joining the church choir at St Oswald’s where he boasts of singing alongside some of the best choristers of the time including his old mate Alan Tomlinson, the Beilby brothers and Will Illingworth to name a few.   

Also not to be left out was a restart with the cricket club along with his old pre-war chums, perhaps an outstanding memory was scoring 120 runs against a successful Whitwood XI.  His affection for the club continued involving himself and members of his family in the running of the club.

After retirement he took up part time employment with one of the Leeds bullion offices putting cash into pay packets of workers, including many pit pay packets – he admits to being astounded at the amounts of the earnings some of those workmen.

Roy has in later years, following the loss of Phyllis taken up the civilised sport of crown green bowling much appreciating the church-side setting of the club.  A sport he can enjoy watching and contributing and which he is still keen to engage in veterans competitions.   It was in these roles he was to be awarded the Tommy Allen Shield for services to the game.

Always independent and smartly turned out in his late nineties, it can only be the result of his former training and experience with the RAF and great interest in the village and its people.  He does not forget his great affection for the younger members of his family who are a great support to him.

20th Century World War 2

Rationing Post War

Staple diet to be sure and during the war years, bread was not subject to the ration book.   So, when hungry, an older generation will well remember the term ‘fill up with bread’.

It’s now 1948 and bread and flour are subject to rationing much to the dismay of the public at large.  Criticism is also being levelled at the Attlee government by the leader of the conservative opposition. 

Blissfully unaware of all this, I was chored to go to Mrs Sunderland’s shop in her front room in the Albert Place to fetch a loaf of bread.   Easy, even for an eight year old.

My mother bought little bread during these times because having worked in a bakery she was able to bake her own bread on our large black leaded kitchen range in Bondfield Terrace.    This time however, she had run out of yeast and the shop it had to be for me to get one loaf.

Into the shop and there they were on the shelf near the door – two Hagenbachs  loaves of bread, one of which was just waiting to go into the basket in order to provide some much desired jam sandwiches at our house.   ‘Sorry dear, but I have no bread‘ said the shopkeeper despite the fact that the product was there looking at me.   She didn’t need to say that they were reserved for someone else, I guessed I could have worked that one out.   Straight on then to Spencer’s shop, but not a loaf to be had.

At this point I was more than miffed with the always kindly old lady, because even as an eight year old I knew that it would mean a trip down to the shops in Mickletown.

And so, it was a truculent eight year old traipsing through the Mulberry bridge and along that path towards Main Street to bring home the bread.

Things then took a turn for the worse, whilst ambling past Mill Lane, there coming into view was the fearsome Mesher in the distance and walking in my direction.  (Mesher was Methley’s own muscular juvenile delinquent, to be avoided at all costs).   In desperation, I hopped into the off-licence shop near the entrance to the Jingo Nick.   Fortunately for me, I had to wait while the shopkeeper served a customer with a hand pulled jug of ale.   

At my turn, a lame request for a loaf of bread took long enough for me to see Mesher proceeding past the shop in the direction of the pit gates, probably looking for a few ten year olds to torture.   Sneaking out of the shop without closing the door to avoid the doorbell ringing saw me heading towards the Co-op and success.

So, there I was with my unwrapped, unsliced loaf of Kworp bakery bread on the long journey back to Woodrow.

Well, she wasn’t all that grateful, in fact I had to duck to avoid the swipe that came in my direction.   Perhaps it was something to do with having dropped it twice on the Mulberry footpath and that all the corners had been nibbled off!

Took a while to forgive the elderly Mrs Sunderland and it would appear that I would have supported Churchill’s claim to dispense with the rationing of bread in those post war years.

Bread was rationed from 1946 to 1948 – don’t know why, it must have been something to do with the import of wheat from the USA and shortage of shipping after the war.     

20th Century World War 1 World War 2

Roll of Honour

Pontefract & Castleford Express 19th December, 1947
Village Memorial WWII

To raise £500 to complete the memorial in St Oswald’s Church to the villagers who gave their lives to the two world wars.   Help has been promised by the Methley Branch of the British Legion, St Oswald’s Church, St Margaret’s Church and other organisations.

The Hon Treasurer (Mr GH Travis) has received a number of donations, and an inaugural meeting is to be held next month to elect committees and arrange efforts.

Methley has never failed to reach its target for charitable objects, and the present also calls for more than charity.

The aim is to produce an artist scripted memorial book to incorporate the name of those men who lost their lives in both wars.

It is intended to present the book in a suitable presentation desk enabling the church authorities to turn the pages over on a monthly basis.  And that is done each month.

Characters Football Methley Cricket Club Social World War 2

John Willie Firth

Local Headmaster and outstanding sportsman both at soccer and cricket where he was to enjoy representative selection in both sports. In 1929 he was runner up in the Methley CC batting averages, he also figured prominently in the overall league averages with an accumulated 465 runs at an average of 38.7 which included one century. In 1930 he also took the Methley 1st XI batting award .
From Pit Lane, John Willie was an outstanding player in a good team in the late 1920’s and early 30’s after rattling up a number of fine performances with the bat. Ambition drove him to move up to the Castleford Cricket Club where he succeeded in making the jump to the Yorkshire second XI having earlier played for the Yorkshire Colts.
In 1940 it is recorded that he turned out for Methley again, in a district side taking on a strong Leeds XI in a charity game where he top scored with fifty runs.
His football career landed him at Yorkshire Amateurs and no doubt his experience playing at full back with Methley also, enabled him to skipper the army team in inter service competitions. He went on to represent his country from within the amateur ranks.  All this mirroring his recorded success in both sports at Castleford Grammar School.

I also learn that our man was an accomplished skater – don’t know if he represented any side other than Mickletown Ings!!

Wartime, and Lieutenant John Willie Firth now commissioned into the army was wounded in 1944 on active service with the parachute regiment during the D-Day operations.

His sporting career now over in post war England, he was to seek new challenges and took on a major educational role in the continent of Africa (Kenya) until his return to UK in the early 1950’s. His record in education of schools locally included posts at Castleford Boys Modern, Glass Houghton and Airedale Secondary Modern School where he was appointed headmaster. John Willie was later to take up a post in Cornwall prior to retirement.