Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu

 

Many commentators today are likening the Covid-19 pandemic to that of the Spanish flu which hit the world in 1917-1920.  It was named as neutral Spain had no need to censor its newspapers and therefore the  first reports of the ‘flu appeared in Spanish newspapers, particularly  as the Spanish King Alfonso XIII was seriously ill with the disease.  The first wave of the ‘flu was relatively mild in the summer of 1918, peaked heavily in October 1918 with a more virulent strain of the disease,   and not fading out  until April 1920.  Eventually more died worldwide than all the civilian and military deaths of the first World War.   Death rates were highest amongst the 20-40 year olds – the age of most of the soldiers returning to their homes after the war.  There were no antibiotics or means of treating the illness. Continue reading “Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu”

Cheltenham marks the 75th anniversary of VJ Day

Cheltenham will mark the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day on 15 August 2020, remembering both the surrender of Japan and end of the Second World War in 1945.

War memorial on the Promenade and its information board

To commemorate this anniversary, a short ceremony led by Rev. Clare Dyson will be held at the War Memorial on Saturday 15 August at 11am. In attendance will be the Mayor of Cheltenham Cllr Roger Whyborn, President of the Royal British Legion Cheltenham Branch Bernard Fisher, Standard Bearer Roy Roberts, and Chief Executive of Cheltenham Borough Council Gareth Edmundson.

Mayor of Cheltenham, councillor Roger Whyborn said: “It’s important to remember VJ Day, as it represents the real end of the Second World War, some 3 months after the end of hostilities in Europe, while battles continued to run in the far east.

“Many service people continued to make sacrifices for their country in the Far East. By commemorating VJ Day, we are able to demonstrate how their sacrifices are not forgotten.”

The ceremony will pay tribute to surviving veterans of The Far East Campaign and to the many service personnel from across the UK and Commonwealth who fought and died in the fight against Japan.

The Chairman of the Royal British Legion Cheltenham, Roy Roberts added: “We are very pleased to support this important ceremony. Sadly, it’s not possible to involve our some of our local World War Two veterans in the ceremony as they are all in their 90s and in one case over 100 years old, but they will of course be very much in our thoughts and our grateful thanks on the day.”

To meet COVID-19 restrictions, the mayor and principal attendees will gather in the inner enclosure at the War Memorial where members of the public may observe from the surrounding spaces whilst maintaining social distancing. There will be a video of the event on the council’s YouTube channel after the ceremony.

Ration Book Recipes

Holst Birthplace Museum hosted some great ‘cook back in time’ demos last year using their Victorian range. Laura has shared some of her favourite wartime recipes with us (popular in both World Wars). Tuck into some Anzac biscuits and a cup of warming cocoa on VE Day. 

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Anzac biscuits

These iconic biscuits were originally made to send to the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serving in Gallipoli in the First World War. They became popular again in WW2 as they keep well, you don’t need much flour to make them and the recipe doesn’t require any eggs.

Ingredients:
• 100 g unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons golden syrup
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 120 g plain flour
• 80 g porridge oats
• 100 g golden caster sugar
• 80 g desiccated coconut

Method:
1) Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the sugar, rolled oats and coconut.
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add golden syrup and water.
3) Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the liquid mixture.
4) Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
5) Place walnut-sized balls of mixture on a greased tray and bake at 175C for 15-20 minutes. (They melt out into cookies in the oven).

Traditional Hot Chocolate 

There’s nothing like a steaming mug of cocoa to beat the blues. This cocoa recipe was inspired by the cocoa drunk by the British Forces posted in Salonika during WW1. Gustav Holst himself went to Salonika to work as a musical organiser and educator (teaching music to the troops) with the YMCA.

Ingredients (per person):

• 2tbsp traditional cocoa powder (such as Bournville)
• 300ml milk
• 1-2tsp sugar
• Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom

Method:

1. Warm milk in a pan over a low heat.
2. Whisk in cocoa powder.
3. Gently stir in sugar.
4. Add some spice to taste if you fancy experimenting!

Continue reading “Ration Book Recipes”

1940’s Sing Along

Local jazz musician and vocal coach Lindsay Martin has recorded a special 1940’s singalong video to get Cheltenham in the mood for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May. 

We’ll be sharing the video with local care homes this week via our Cheltenham Dementia Action Alliance partners Mindsong. 

Cheltenham Children Celebrate VE Day 75!

Click below to explore our image gallery showing decorations, creations and writing by local children. Thank you to all the schools and families who have taken part.

Naunton Park Primary School

St John’s Primary School

St Mark’s C of E Junior School

Gardener’s Lane School

Oakwood School

Jessica and her brother Nathan interview their Grampy about life during WW2.

Warden Hill Year 5 pupils

Peace Posters

VE Day inspired – Diaries

VE Day inspired – Menus

The Nation’s Toast!

 Join people across the UK in the Nation’s Toast at 3pm on Friday May 8th. Come to your front door and raise a glass or a cuppa to toast the heroes of WW2. Live on radio and TV from 2:30pm. Paying ‘tribute’ and saying ‘thank you’ to the millions at home and abroad that gave so much. Please observe social distancing. 

Slippers for soldiers

THE COUNTY COBBLERS and THE BELGRAVIA WORKROOMS

From the collection of Neela Mann

No 8 Queen’s Parade, Cheltenham was home to the Gloucester County Association for Voluntary Organisations – a house lent by the Mayor William Nash Skillicorne and his sister Edith.  One of the tasks carried out here was the cutting out and construction of slippers for men at rest stations and in military hospitals, under the chief cutter, the Revd. Cuthbert W. Birley, and run by Mrs Ernest Rogers.  The voluntary workers – men and women – called themselves The County Cobblers. They paid for the material for the slippers themselves and at the start of the war were making 136 pairs of slippers a week!

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

With the sewing of slippers she has much to do

So kindly please help her all people who can

To make the soft slippers for some wounded man”

This poem (found in an autograph book kept by Mabel Owen) is by a soldier in Naunton Park Hospital, Cheltenham.  He obviously appreciated the slippers, which were probably a pair of those made at 8 Queen’s Parade.

Continue reading “Slippers for soldiers”