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Hesketh Rectory
Hesketh Bank
December 1945

My Dear Friends,
Christmas is getting near, and, although a great many of you will be still away from home, I wish you in the name of our village a very happy one, and a quick and safe return home. This month I have asked our new Member of Parliament, Mr Harold Wilson, to write you a message, and he has done so willingly, and promptly. With much thankfulness and with a good cheer to you all I would echo the real Christmas message, 'Peace on earth amongst men of goodwill.'
Yours very sincerely

House of Commons,
Nov. 15th 1945

I have been asked by the Editor to send a short message to those of my constituents from Hesketh Bank who are serving in the Forces and I am very glad to take advantage of the opportunity he has kindly given me.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting many of you yet, and, in fact, during a very hectic election campaign, I was only in Hesketh Bank three times. On one evening we had an open-air meeting outside the local hostelry which went on till half-past eleven at night and ended in a very exciting free fight, but I am hoping to visit Hesketh Bank where I have some relatives as often as possible in the near future. I hope that as I do, there will be more and more of you back there as demobilization gets under way. Believe me, the Government many of you helped to elect is pressing on all it can with this very important problem and all the younger MP's even those who, like myself, have become Junior Ministers, are pressing them.
Meanwhile what we are really concerned to do is to see that the Britain you come back to is to be made as worthy as possible of you all and of all that the others in the Forces have done in the last six years. We are resolved to see that the unemployment, the poverty, the inequality and the unfairness, which were too prevalent in pre-war Britain, shall be removed in the Britain of the future. My own Ministerial job is concerned particularly with housing, perhaps the most urgent of all the problems facing the Government and I can assure you that in this we are working night and day to ensure in spite of enormous difficulties, that there shall be within the shortest possible time enough houses for all those coming back and a removal of slums, both in town and in the country.
I know that everyone in the Forces is now looking forward to restarting and rebuilding their family life and we want to help them all we can.
Meanwhile as your MP, although I am as a Minister precluded from putting questions on the floor of the House to other Ministers, I shall always be at the service of any constituents at home or in the Forces to take up individual problems effecting them or to know their views on any questions of national or local policy.
My best wishes for a safe and speedy return home.
Yours sincerely

There has been a bit of a slump in the letters from the troops this last month, but we still look forward to them, and we shall particularly welcome a letter from those who have hitherto been pen shy!

Will Ainscough (Germany Nov 4) has still a lot of guards to do, and also he wants to tell Tom Bond that there is some work still in the DP camps. He sends his best wishes to Tom and to Joan Binns.

Reggie Cookson writes from REME in Notts (Nov. 10). He sends his vote of thanks to the Agricultural Show Workers for their great achievement. He looks forward to being demobbed about the middle of 1946.

Sam Iddon's letter dated Sept 30th from Italy has been overlooked. We apologise, and at the same time we congratulate him on being made a Corporal (was it early in August?). We gather that he is now home. We shall be delighted to see him as soon as he can pay us a visit.

John Taylor's last letter from the Navy was on Nov 8th. He is now home, and staying with his wife in his old home in Moss Lane.

Frank Taylor (Sept 15) writes from India says it's a lazy life for him at present, but he evidently draws the line at being shaved 'like a king'. Anyway he adds 'I am not a king, give me Hesketh any time!' He is getting used to the money now, at first fearing being diddled. He sends greetings to David Rimmer and Cecil Cookson.

William Bailey (BAOR) says he did not get the October number. The Rector hopes he got it about Nov 12th Harry Hindley (BAOR Oct 23) is now a Sergeant (Congratulations) and is at present in Holland. His demob is due in April next.

Colin Wignall (Hong Kong Oct 17) longs for Hesketh Bank, and no wonder, over ten thousand miles away! He has seen Gibraltar, and Port Said and Aden, where he actually met Peter Dawson, of Moss Lane and had half-an-hour's talk on shooting, then Colombo, and Port Darwin and at last Hong Kong. He sends greetings to Stacey Gautrey and Colin Stringfellow.

Our last letter is from Norman Harwood (MEF Nov 12) who has seen something of the troubles in Egypt.

As November 11th fell on a Sunday there were special Services in Hesketh Church for the Remembrance of those who died in the two great Wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, and the Two Minutes Silence was observed at the 10.30 Service. It was good to see many ex-service men, and some on leave, present at the afternoon service. Rumour has it that, next year, we are to have Remembrance Day in May or sometime in the summer.

During the summer months, Mr Edward Sharples has had his horse grazing in one of his fields on the marsh, and where the horse went the sheep always went with it, even till the time came when the horse had to be taken home because of the cold weather, and it must have been very hard for both of them when the time came for parting, it was a very amusing sight the horse being led home by her driver Ronnie Baxter and the little old sheep trotting behind. What became of the sheep we don't know, but mutton is a change from bully beef isn't it? (? Mary had a little lamb!)
Here is another sprout story, and a true one at that, a picker had been sent to gather a few bags and on dinner time approaching, he went to tell his employer he had gathered six bags and the boss who had only just come down stairs from an enjoyable nights sleep, said I only wanted four bags, the astonished farm hand said, well master what shall I do with the other two? "Go and put them back" cried the boss!
At a recent Whist Drive Mrs Gautrey broke all records with a score of 196, the previous holder was Mrs J Cookson, late of Primrose Farm.
Saturday evening, 10th November children of the Newarth Lane district were given a treat by the residents. The event was organised by Mr Taylor and Mrs Bond assisted by many friends. A fancy dress parade headed by Mrs Peat created a good deal of interest. Afterwards tea was provided for 100. A Bonfire and firework display was enjoyed by all. Mr R Checkley provided music for the dancing.
There was a dance held in the C/E School Friday night, 16th Nov., there was a good attendance, it was in aid of the Cricket Club.
These have been demobbed since our last NL; Harry Baxter, Bill Ball, Newarth Lane,
Jim Coulton, Becconsall Lane, has come out with B group.
The following have been on leave since last NL; Martin Wright, Joe Power, Bob Iddon. Bert Miller is home on Agricultural leave.
The following note appeared in an Accrington paper recently, "An apt phrase used in a broadcast from this country paying tribute to President Roosevelt has proved far more effective than its author anticipated. Mr H Parkinson, Hesketh Bank referred to America's former leader as having 'passed from the stress of the doing to the peace of the done.' This struck a listener across the Atlantic very forcibly, and later an exhibition in memory of President Roosevelt was given the title of Mr Parkinson's phrase. The latter's photograph is also displayed."
Joe Eastham arrived home on Nov 18th after three and a half years in India and Burma. He looks very well. He paid a very welcome visit to the Rectory.

It was Christmas Eve, a lovely full moon shining out of a clear blue sky, its rich silver light reflecting on to the snow covered earth gave forth millions of sparkling coloured lights. The fir trees decorated only as nature can and the hedgerows too covered in a snowy white mantle, the old cottages dotted here and there, and the little old road winding over the hill was a picture as pretty as any Christmas Card. A feeling of peaceful quiet serenity filled the air, in the distance a choir rendering one of the beautiful old carols, its lovely deep haunting tune was a perfect setting for this Christmas Eve. All was quiet at the old house which for this little village held many historical secrets, the long twisting drive guarded on either side by stalwart oaks and sycamores, the graceful sweeping lawns, the low sunken rose gardens, where the fountain had long since ceased to play, the ivy which hung on the old house side and the coloured latticed windows giving pretty reflections in the glorious moonlight, gave a picture like that of the old Victorian days. I leaned back in the massive green lush chair and with a feeling of real happy contentment placed my feet on the huge kerb which rested in front of the large log fire, the cracking of the flames and the steady tick of the old Grandfather clock seemed to blend with my peaceful surroundings. I closed my eyes and for a short time my mind wandered back to the past six years, six years of bitter struggle, and of separation from our loved ones, and how strange, but more than ever we felt it all very much at Christmas time, but now it was all over, and some of our lads were back, yes back at home and would be having their first Christmas at home with their families. But many are still away and to you friends we send all our sincerest greetings and trust that you will be spending Christmas at home next year, with the comforting thought that you won't have to go back. Yes, its sure something to look forward to, so please try and make the best of the time in front of you, and it won't seem long - Well friends, I am sure at this time I don't need to say any more on the matter, so I'll just keep my feet on the kerb and relax into a well earned quiet five minutes. As this will I am sure be my last Christmas chat to you, I would like to end it with wishing you all a very happy Christmas and for the coming year everything that is good, and especially your demob.

You are in my thoughts for ever,
Even though seas flow between:
Never doubting, still rememb'ring
Deeds you've done are still a treasure
In the minds of friends, I ween,
Shining with a golden gleam.

Anniversary Services were held on 28th Oct when the Rev G H Taylor of Liverpool, was the preacher, and on 4th Nov when the Rev C Moore of Croston was the preacher. On the afternoon of 28th Oct there was a Musical Service when the soloists were Miss Gladys Dandy, Mde Gertrude Mayhew, and Mr Robert Johnson.
Mrs W Iddon was the organist and Mr J Watkinson the conductor. The scholars of the Sunday School gave a demonstration Song Service 'Buds and Blossoms', on the afternoon 4th Nov. 18th Nov was the Overseas Missionary Anniversary when the preacher was the Rev W Atkinson. Anthems were rendered by the choir.

Salvage, salvage, and still more salvage. Will there be no end to this task of getting together old books and papers? What stuff folk read in days gone by! What's this paper that's dropped out now? Beautifully and clearly written at any rate. The old folk may have read stodgy stuff but they had certainly mastered the art of penmanship. Why it looks like the page of a diary - Good gracious, it's a hundred and fifty years old! Oh! Listen to this:
"24th December 1795: This is a sad Christmas for me - Roger the Sexton is dead. He must have been over eighty years of age for he was some years older than I and it's more than fifty years ago since I came down from College to serve at Becconsall Chapel under the Rector of Croston. Old Roger was a good and faithful friend, he taught me all I know of fleeting and fishing, and if I write down now the secret he shared with me alone it can do no harm. It happened fifty years ago - in 1745, the year that Bonnie Prince Charlie came marching down to Preston and on the Derby before he began his disastrous retreat when so many brave Scots and Lancashire lads perished. It was on the Christmas Eve of that fateful year, 1745, that old Roger - he was young Roger then - was going from his home on the Brow to the Chapel to ring the bell at midnight. Snow was falling as he made his way down the Cliffs and past the Hall to the Chapel. Just before he reached the gate the snow ceased falling and the moon shone out brightly from behind the clouds. Glancing across the Douglas, Roger saw a stalwart figure hurrying towards the farther bank from the direction of Tarleton. It was almost midnight and Roger knew he hadn't time to run to Ferry house and rouse the boatman. The man must wait a few minutes till the bell-ringing was over. Roger made his way hastily into the Chapel where his one candle near the door left the greater part of the building in darkness, and began ringing a welcome to the Christ Child. Glancing through the window as he pulled the bell rope he was amazed to see the stranger passing along to the Hall. How had he crossed the river? As the stranger disappeared Roger turned towards the Altar and there in dim outline he saw two kneeling figures - Jack o' Jumps and Mary of the Hall - the east end of the Chapel bathed in mystic light. With a cry he ran towards the kneeling figures - but the light was gone, there was nothing there, nothing but the blackness and the shadows cast by his one dim candle near the door. Strange tricks the mind can play, strange shapes shadows can take. Ah! Yes. But there was more to it than that. In the morning the village learnt that Mary of the Hall had died suddenly just before midnight, and some weeks later - for news travelled slowly fifty years ago - that Jack o' Jumps had been killed in the retreat from Derby. That was Roger's secret which he shared with me alone. I think he had another secret but that he never shared - I think he too loved Mary of the Hall."
And so a Salvage Drive gives us a glimpse of two hundred years ago.

"The problem was the ignorance of the Church about the people, not the ignorance of the people about the Church" - so said a young woman speaking at the recent Church Assembly. Now, we wouldn't have made a comment about it only you may have read the same sentence in the newspapers. It is a clear and telling sentence, it sounds well as it is carefully delivered from the platform, it is a nicely balanced sentence; in fact it seems to have only one defect - it happens to be untrue!
Still, it is a very effective sentence. The Church may have many defects but ignorance about the people is not one of them. Doctors and clergymen know more about the lives of the people and the conditions under which they live than any other class in England. They are constantly in and out of people's homes and are constantly meeting them under all circumstances - in their times of happiness and sorrow, and most revealing of all, in the ordinary humdrum round of their daily lives. And the young woman speaker might have remembered that you and I form part of the church and we fancy we know a bit about ordinary lay-life. But it is an effective sentence and reads well.

Eh! Aw've hed another reet good do. Aw went to th' Bring and Buy Sale got up by th' Church folk for th' village Welcome Home Fund. Aw were theer in good time an' it were lucky aw were for th' room were crowded for th' opening. Aw noticed as th' schoolroom hed been nicely decorated an' everything were bright and gay. It were good to see Mr Mrs Bowker looking so weel an' wi were all fain to see as one o' their dowters hed coom wi' em an' hed browt her two bonny boys wi' her. Everything passed off in grand style, th' only drawback were as Mr Mrs Bowker couldn't stay longer, but aw thinks as they managed to hev a word or two wi' quite a lot o' folk before they left. Th' Sale went wi' a swing an' before long th' stalls were stripped for there were plenty o' buyers. Th' Whist Drive as followed in th' evening were a good do as weel, though aw didn't win a prize this time - still you con't expect to win every time, now con you? What is it they say: lucky in love, unlucky at cards - so it seems you con't hev it boath ways. Mi mother says aw've not been so unlucky as who con see, aw've managed to keep single so far. But aw likes a bit o' Romance. Eh, aw remembers as once such a nice young - eh, but aw'm telling you about th' Sale an' aw'm starting to tell you a bit o' mi own history: that'll never do: happen as it wouldn't interest you. Th' Sale did weel an' aw'm told as there's a tidy sum to hand over to th' Fund. Aw'm only able to write this bit this month as aw've all mi Christmas shopping to do yet, but what aw'se be able to buy aw don't know. Talk about prices! Howsomever, aw hopes as all you in th' Forces as a gradely good do, an' that 1946 will see you all back in Civvy Street enjoying your next Christmas at your own fireside. An' aw con't wish you owt better.

Saturday 17th November. The weather is continuing fine and dry, without the usual November fog, as yet. With every day being a good 'working' day, it is a question whether the farmers have ever been so far ahead with their work at this time of the year. Most of the ploughing on the new Marsh is finished, and another fine day or two this week, and the whole of it will be done.
Sprouts, this year, aren't as easy picking as they need more dressing, this is probably due to the mild weather making them soft.
One day this week, I came across some farm labourers busy catching rats down the Cabin Road ditch. The rats, having made their way into some potato hogs along the ditch side were just beginning to cause a bit of damage!
The wheat that has been sown is well through and looks very green. In the old days, we should have had some good goose shooting on these fields, but as the geese still haven't returned here, that is a thing of the past!

PS The Editor apologises to Wilfred Ellis for reporting that he was demobbed last month. Better luck later, Mr Mrs E.

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