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Inspirational People – For Inspirational Times:
Virginia Hall – “The Limping Lady”
When World War II hit, many women had to down tools at home with their ‘housewife’ duties and pick them up again by taking on a job to help the war effort. They became factory workers, ambulance drivers, farmers… and spies!
Nicknamed “the limping lady” and reportedly considered “the most dangerous of all allied spies” by the Gestapo, Virginia Hall was one of the wars greatest female spies!
Born in America, Virginia had a stellar education, where she specialised in languages, including French, Italian and German. She travelled to Europe to continue her studies and hoped to one day become a US Diplomat. This didn’t happen, though, for two reasons. Firstly, she was a woman, and female diplomats were almost unheard of. Secondly, in 1932, while out hunting birds, she tripped and accidentally shot herself in the left foot. She was amputated below the knee and given a wooden leg prosthetic, which she fondly named Cuthbert. Although she didn’t let Cuthbert slow her down, an obscure rule meant that those with disabilities couldn’t become diplomats, so she had to let go of that dream.
In 1940, Virginia picked up a job as an ambulance driver for the French Army. After their defeat, she moved to Spain, where she stumbled across a British intelligence agent, George Bellows. He gave her the number of his friend Nicolas Bodington, who landed her a job at the fledgling Special Operations Executive (SOE).
As a pioneering member of the SOE, Virginia became the first female agent to be positioned in France. She spent a year in Lyon organising Heckler – her spy network of intelligence officers and recruits – alongside running safe houses and feeding intel back to the British Government. She even masterminded jailbreaks of fellow agents, including 12 agents captured by the French police in 1941. This jailbreak alone made a massive impact, with many of escapees returning to France to become leasers of SOE networks.
Virginia fled France when her captors were catching up to her, without telling a soul, and walked over the 7,500 ft Pyrenees (with a wooden leg!) covering 50 miles in two days to reach safety in Spain. When she got there, she was arrested but quickly set free thanks to the American Embassy. She joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, where she ended up working post-war too.
Her efforts throughout the war made a significant impact, and Virginia was well respected and commended. She quietly earned an MBE in 1943 and Distinguished Service Cross in 1945.
She certainly earned her place among the top spies and codebreakers of WWII.
Let’s Get Moving:
Time for some Physical Activities!
Entertainment During World War II
In this edition of TT Strange Times, we are encouraging you to entertain yourselves at home by taking a peek online at how things were done in those days.
Although they had no televisions, computers or mobile phones, people had the radio (wireless), which was the main form of home communication and entertainment during the war. Most families in Britain owned a radio.
Besides news and information, there were music programmes, talks and comedy shows. The ‘Forces Sweetheart’, singer Vera Lynn, also hosted her own radio programme, Sincerely Yours – Vera Lynn, where she sang and passed on messages to troops serving overseas from their families.
Here is a clip of Dame Vera from the 1943 film – ‘We’ll meet Again’.
And this is a 1943 radio music broadcast – ‘Music while you work’, with images of wartime London:
The cinema was another extremely popular pastime.
Cinemas thrived in wartime, and attendance figures surged upward from an average of just under 20 million weekly admissions in 1939 to over 30 million weekly admissions in 1944 and 1945, in a country with a population of approximately 48 million people.
Brief Encounter is a true classic which was made in 1945 – this is the trailer which appeared in cinemas:
Going out for a drink
Pubs faced difficult circumstances in the war.
Reduced supplies of the necessary ingredients to distilleries resulted in shortages of beer and whisky.
Imports of alcohol were stopped in October 1941. Inconsistent supplies of beer meant that many drinkers changed their habits, visiting the pub on a weeknight or in the early evening. However, a visit to the pub still meant a welcome change of scene.
In 1942, the first of over 1.5 million American servicemen arrived in Britain in preparation for the Allied offensives against Germany during the war. That same year, the United States’ War Department published ‘Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain’ to help soldiers, sailors and airmen – many of whom had never travelled abroad before – adjust to life in a new country.
This following film was shown to American servicemen before they were stationed in England so they would know what to expect and how to behave in a pub!
In the early days of the war all professional sport was suspended.
However, football matches soon resumed, although football leagues were reorganised on a regional basis to cut down on travelling time. Crowds were limited in number, with only 8,000 spectators allowed in some areas.
Key players from many clubs were lost as they were called up into the forces, and some grounds were damaged or requisitioned. However, spectators still flocked to fixtures in reformatted leagues or competitions.
See this following clip of Chelsea versus Millwall, either from 1940 or 1945 – it’s not totally clear which!
Dancing was one of the most popular hobbies during the war.
Every town and village had a hall where dancing could take place and these venues would be packed with people. Dance halls played a huge part in keeping up morale during the war; a Saturday night out dancing was many people’s highlight of the week.
This following clip features some of the best music and dance styles of the war period.
During recent times board games have become more popular again. According to the PR Newswire, the global board game market is predicted to exceed $12 billion by the year 2023!
If you have some of the games mentioned below lurking in the back of a cupboard, we recommend you dust them off! Not without good reason, they are among the most popular games of all time!
Amazingly, the oldest evidence of board games dates back 5,000 years to the Başur Höyük in Southeast Turkey. Archaeologists discovered carved and painted stones. These stones represent the first iteration of a piece we all use in board games even to this day – DICE!
As far as the famous board games we know and play today go, it may surprise you that Snakes and Ladders has been around for centuries. A version of Snakes and Ladders is known to go back as far as 200 BC as an Indian children’s game that teaches about mortality and the difference between good and evil.
During WWII a Musician by the name of Anthony Pratt was playing piano in elegant European country mansions. In these mansions, he would observe the upper-class role-playing different murder mystery scenarios for their evening entertainment.
Anthony would take mental notes of what he saw and the different way the guests acted out these horrific murders. Towards the end of the second world war, Anthony developed a miniature version of what he observed into a board game called Murder! (later renamed to Clue). He would go on to patent the game in 1947.
Upon patenting the game, Anthony sold it to Waddington’s and it’s US counterpart – Parker Brothers (later purchased by Hasbro).
The games’ popularity was huge and the board game was a big hit. The game was released under the name Cluedo in the UK and Clue in the USA.
Since its release, Clue has remained a family favourite board game, undergoing many adaptations to the rules and theme changes over the years. To this day still remains one of the most played hidden identity board games of all time.
There were many victims of America’s Great Depression in 1929. But in 1933 an out of work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts invented a game that would lift the spirits of millions.
Hailing from Poughkeepsie, New York, Butts had taken to analysing popular games, defining three different categories: number games, such as dice and bingo; move games, such as chess and checkers; and word games, such as anagrams. He also noted, “…there is one thing that keeps word games from being as popular as card games: they have no score.”
Attempting to combine the thrill of chance and skill, Butts entwined the elements of anagrams and the classic crossword puzzle into a scoring word game first called LEXIKO. This was then refined during the early 1930s and 1940s to become CRISS CROSS WORDS.
The SCRABBLE game is born.
Legend has it Butts studied the front page of “The New York Times” to make his calculations for the letter distribution in the game. This skilled, cryptographic analysis of our language formed the basis of the original tile distribution, which has remained constant through almost three generations and billions of games.
Nevertheless, established game manufacturers unanimously slammed the door on Butts’ invention. It was only when Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, that the concept became a commercial reality.
Together they refined the rules and design and then, most importantly, came up with the name SCRABBLE – a word defined as ‘to grasp, collect, or hold on to something’; and a word that truly captured the essence of this remarkable concept. And so the SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game was trademarked in 1948.
Words Don’t Always Come Easily…
Pushing on, the Brunots rented a small, red, abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut. Along with some friends, they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters on wooden tiles one at a time. Only later were boards, boxes, and tiles made elsewhere and sent to the factory for assembly and shipping.
In fact, the first four years were a struggle. In 1949 the Brunots made 2,400 sets and lost $450. Nevertheless, the SCRABBLE game gained slow but steady popularity among a handful of consumers.
Then in the early 1950s, legend has it, that the president of MACY’S discovered the game while on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year, the SCRABBLE game was a ‘must-have’ hit, to the point that SCRABBLE games were being rationed to stores around the country!
In 1952, the Brunots licensed Selchow & Righter Company, a well-known game manufacturer, to market and distribute the games in the United States and Canada. Selchow & Righter stepped up production to meet the overwhelming demand for the SCRABBLE game. In 1972, Selchow & Righter purchased the trademark from Brunot, thereby giving the company the exclusive rights to all SCRABBLE Brand products and entertainment services in the United States and Canada. One of the game’s first shrewd moves…
By 1986, Selchow & Righter was sold to COLECO Industries, who had become famous as the manufacturers of the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Yet three years later, COLECO declared bankruptcy, and its primary assets – most notably the SCRABBLE game and PARCHEESI™ – were purchased by Hasbro, Inc., owner of the Milton Bradley Company, America’s leading game manufacturer.
Don’t Have The Games Anywhere But Want to Have a Go?
You can get hold of either game via online retailers:
Fresh Air Fun:
The Treasure Trails Garden Games Modern Pentathlon for 2020
We’re at the halfway mark now, athletes, and things are heating up! It’s still all to play for with the next event – are you ready?
Don’t forget, over the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing the rest of the events to compete in!
If you’ve missed them, you can click on the following links to head back and participate in the first event, The Paper Aeroplane Javelin and the second, the Synchronised Garden Swimming. Before we get onto this next event, here is a reminder of the ground rules on scoring, and some suggestions on how to make your events even more spectacular!
- If there are enough members in your household, create teams of two people to compete instead of competing as individuals.
- Points are awarded per event. After competing in each event, rank the teams from first to last. The winning team should be awarded five points, the second team four points and so on.
- The team that has the most points after the final, fifth event will win the gold medal (and eternal glory!).
Some Fun Ideas!
Want to go all out and make these events a really memorable experience for the whole family? We’ve got some great ideas for you:
- Create your own Garden Pentathlon torch.
- Split into teams before you start tackling the events and have each team design and create their own flags.
- Hold an opening ceremony, with teams marching into the garden, with their flags and torch, to the tune of Chariots of Fire.
- Prepare sporting themed party food if you’ve got the supplies, or channel Wimbledon with post-event strawberries and cream.
- Create your own gold, silver and bronze medal ribbons, and hold a closing ceremony for the prize-giving (to the tune of We Are the Champions, of course!).
Ready to get started? Let’s crack on with your third event!
Event 3: Egg and Spoon Steeplechase
How are your balancing skills? Your next challenge is a running race with the added dimension of balance and dexterity, and a few obstacles to cross.
Honestly, they should make this an official event in the Tokyo Olympics!
You will need:
- One egg per athlete (Grab some Crème Eggs or similar as a substitute if real eggs are hard to get your hands on!).
- One spoon per athlete.
- A cardboard box to jump over (optional).
- Cones, sticks or other obstacles to weave through (optional).
- A length of rope attached to two chairs for athletes to go under whilst balancing their egg (optional).
Create an interesting route around the garden with a start and finish line as far apart as you think your participants can handle! Include a number of obstacles to spice up the route, as suggested above.
Teams must race to see who can complete the course in the fastest time. You could even kick it up a notch by turning it into a relay, with one athlete passing the egg and spoon to their team member halfway around.
Garden Games Committee rules:
- Either time the teams to see who is the fastest, or allow them to all go off at once for an eggs-tra special mess!
- Each time the egg is dropped, a ten-second penalty is added to the team’s time.
- Players are not allowed to touch the egg with their hands – doing so incurs a ten-second penalty.
Awarding of Points
Yay – once again, that was some fantastic competing, athletes – you’ve all done utterly fantastically!
Time now for the post event mini-points awarding gathering, to reward the winning competitors for this event.
Remember to save the tally of points from each event for each of the winning teams, so that they can work towards ultimately winning that coveted Gold Medal at the closing ceremony!
Don’t forget to join us next time, for Event #4 – Balloon Target Shooting!
Getting YUMMY With It…
Eating in World War II
Although our circumstances in the spring of 2020 have meant temporary shortages of certain items in our supermarkets, our experiences are very far-removed from those of ordinary people during the Second World War.
Rationing was a means of ensuring the fair distribution of food and commodities when they were scarce and began on 8th January 1940 when bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. By 1942 many other foodstuffs, including meat, milk, cheese, eggs and cooking fat were also ‘on the ration’.
When something was purchased the shopkeeper marked the purchase off in the customer’s book. Special exceptions were made allowing for some groups of people who required additional food like underground mine workers, members of the Women’s Land Army and members of the Armed Forces.
Meat was the last item to be de-rationed and food rationing ended completely in 1954.
This is a typical weekly food ration for an adult (children received half):
- Bacon & Ham – 4 oz (approximately 100g)
- Other meat – value of 1 shilling and 2 pence (equivalent to 2 chops)
- Butter – 2 oz
- Cheese – 2 oz (to give you an idea, this is approximately 3 BabyBel cheeses)
- Margarine – 4 oz
- Cooking fat – 4 oz
- Milk – 3 pints (1.7 litres)
- Sugar – 8 oz
- Preserves – 1 lb every 2 months
- Tea – 2 oz
- Eggs – 1 fresh egg (plus allowance of dried egg)
- Sweets – 12 oz every 4 weeks (approximately seven tubes of fruit pastilles)
One of the most popular and well-known recipes from the Second World War is Lord Woolton Pie. It was created at the Savoy Hotel in London by its then Maitre Chef de Cuisine, Francis Latry.
The recipe was recommended by the Ministry of Food to enable a nutritious diet to be maintained despite shortages and rationing of many types of food, especially meat.
It was named after Frederick Marquis, 1st Lord Woolton (1883–1964), who popularised the recipe after he became Minister of Food in 1940.
The Official Recipe for Woolton Pie as reported in The Times on 26 April 1941:
Our TOP Five…
Top Wartime Reads
We’d hoped to be dusting off our wirelesses and dancing to The Andrews Sisters with friends to celebrate the anniversary of VE day.
But, we’re not going to let lockdown get in the way of our celebrations, so we’re settling down in solitude with some of our favourite WWII books instead!
We’ve raided our bookshelves and compiled our top five wartime reads to get ourselves stuck into while we nibble at our rations and look forward to better days. At the time of writing, all of these books can be purchased online in various formats in case you want to delve into them too.
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
When the grumpy, reclusive Tom Oakley receives an evacuee from London, he expects nothing more than it to be a minor, but necessary, inconvenience. However, it doesn’t take long after the arrival of Willie for “Mister Tom” to soften – especially when he discovers the terrible state of Willie’s home life.
This story paints a moving picture of the harsh reality faced by many children in the war: stay with your guardian’s in safety and solitude, or risk returning to London to your family. But, through the inevitable tears, you learn that family doesn’t have to be biological; they just have to love you.
Although classed as a children’s book (for slightly older kids due to some of the themes), this is a heart-warming, and equally heart-breaking, story for adults too. It totally deserves the top spot on our list.
If you want to bury your nose into this book, you can buy it from Waterstones, or find it on Amazon as both a physical copy and Kindle version. Don’t fancy turning this page? You can buy and watch the 1998 film adaptation (rated PG) on Amazon Prime.
Carries War by Nina Bawden
We’re starting to get an evacuee theme going here, but this top five would be incomplete without this fantastic wartime read – a favourite amongst school teachers across the country. Carrie and her younger brother Nick find themselves evacuated to a small, run-down mining village in Wales, where they become embroiled in the local life (and gossip).
The two children quickly become fast-friends with another evacuee, Albert Sandwich, and the local Mr Johnny. The four try to navigate the family feuds, scandals, and weird goings-on of their new home, while learning fascinating stories from the housekeeper, including one about a curse on the dilapidated house, Druid’s Bottom, where Albert and Mr Johnny live.
This children’s historical novel did not get the credit it was due at the time of publishing, receiving its first award in 1993 – twenty years after publication! We won’t let that stop us from revisiting its pages and gritty storyline.
The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes
The Lion and the Unicorn offers something a little different to the rest of these books; it contains beautiful illustrations that complement the storyline. When Lenny Levi, a young, Jewish boy, bids his soldier father farewell, he is handed a brass badge with a lion and a unicorn on it. The lion stands for bravery and the unicorn for courage, two traits Lenny must hold onto as he moves from his home where bombs are falling to the safety of the countryside.
She keeps the badge with him always, as he tries his best to be brave for his family and ignore the spiteful bullies who tease him at his new home. He shows courage in making new friends and learns how tough things can be when he meets a wounded soldier. Most of all, he discovers that magic really can happen; you just have to believe.
This stunning book will captivate big-kids with the gorgeous illustrations while offering an excellent first step into the history of WWII for any younger readers. It’s not too gritty and scary, instead offering a glimmer of hope and showing pure endurance, even in the youngest minds.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis
We don’t think a list of wartime reads would be complete without The Chronicles of Narnia, but then we may just be looking for an excuse to revisit one of our all-time favourite series (again…). In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – are evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, finding themselves living with an old, reclusive professor in the countryside.
The children eventually get bored and decide to start exploring the house. When Lucy stumbles across, and steps inside, a great wardrobe she’s transported to a snowy woodland, where she finds a lamppost and a fawn who invites her for tea. The magic and chaos that follows is gripping and beautiful and makes the book almost impossible to put down.
The first to be published, and the most well-known of C S Lewis’ books, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe holds it’s own as a fascinating, fantastical read for all ages. Some class The Magicians Nephew as the first book, due to the chronological order of events, but it’s really up to you!
If you want to follow us into the wardrobe, you can buy the book from Waterstones, or you can find it on Amazon as both a physical copy and the Kindle version. Want to discover the magic elsewhere? You can watch the 2005 adaptation (rated PG) on Disney+.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
We couldn’t resist sneaking this one into the list, even though it’s more for big-big kids than any younger budding historians, especially since it’s one of Resident Wordsmith (and total bookworm) Rachel’s all-time favourite reads. Plus, it shakes up our list a little bit, swapping the countryside retreat of the evacuees for the urban streets around Munich.
The story follows the life of young Liesel Meminger, who comes of age during the Nazi reign in Germany. Sent to live with foster parents, Liesel is exposed to the horrors of the Nazi regime, and the need to resist the power of authorities and to embrace the power of written and spoken words.
The whole book is narrated by Death, a foreboding yet caring character who follows Liesel’s journey and stays with her, always. The heart wrenching tale forces you to see the war from a slightly different perspective, while once again revealing the thread of hope and the human determination to survive.
To take a virtual trip to war-struck Germany, you can buy the book from Waterstones, or find it on Amazon as both the physical copy and the Kindle version. Don’t fancy stepping into the pages? You can rent the 2013 adaptation (rated 12) from Amazon Prime – although, Death sadly doesn’t feature in the same capacity.
Our Survey Says…
That’s our top five fictional books on young lives during WWII, but we’d love to hear yours too, whether fiction or non-fiction! Leave a comment, or tag us on social media using #OurSurveySays to let us know your go-to wartime reads. Let’s see if we’ve come across them before and if we can get our hands on them to read along with you.
WAR is OVER!
Commemorating VE Day With Art!
Victory in Europe Day – more commonly known as VE Day – is commemorated on May 8th.
A newsflash on the radio on May 7th, 1945 informed listeners that the war in Europe was over and the following day would be a national holiday. Festivities began as soon as people heard the news; bonfires were lit, people danced and the pubs were full of revellers.
On May 8th the Royal Family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to wave to the cheering crowds.
While the King and Queen were waving to the crowds for the final time that evening, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were secretly and anonymously mingling with the jubilant crowds below them. They had been permitted to leave the palace and participate in the party-like atmosphere. Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) later recalled, ‘We stood outside and shouted, “We want the King”… I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.’
At 3pm on 8th May 1945, from the same room at the War Cabinet Office from which Neville Chamberlain had announced the country was at war in 1939, Winston Churchill alluded to the task ahead during his radio broadcast to the nation. He cautioned:
‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead’.
King George VI also gave a speech, broadcast from bomb scarred Buckingham Palace, in which he thanked the nation.
The final months of the war in the Pacific saw heavy casualties on both sides, but ultimately ended in victory for the Allies. Japan’s leaders agreed to surrender on August 15th (now known as VJ – Victory over Japan – Day) and the act of surrender was signed on September 2nd.
Our competition for you in this edition of TT Strange Times…
Our ‘War is Over’ competition is now closed. Thanks to all those who entered!
The winner is:
Katie Roche! Katie, along with Logan (7), Ruby (5) and Louie (4), made an air raid shelter to play in during lockdown. Top marks for creativity – the bunting is made from Aldi bags! Katie and family have won a Treasure Trail.
Well Done Katie and family!
Time to Grab That Thinking Cap Again!
So now’s your chance to get your mind active.
We have some more great puzzles to keep you going…
To start off with, click on the following image to open a download and print out:
The Wonderfully Weird Wartime Wordsearch!
You’ll probably need an Enigma decrypting machine state of mind to figure this one out! Be warned it is a tricky one – but we know you’ll get it in the end…
(If you get stuck, don’t worry, you can find the answers for it here!)
The Long Road to VE Day Mini Treasure Trail
So while we still aren’t able to ACTUALLY get outside fully to explore – we’ve created another VIRTUAL excuse to get out!
Due to popular demand, we’ve come up another MINI VIRTUAL Trail for you to explore with. All you need is a device with internet connection and access to Google maps and Streetview.
Click the image below to download and get VIRTUALLY out and about on the Long Road to VE Day – and good luck to you all!
(Stuck? don’t worry, the answers for it can be found here!)
Tristan’s “Evil” Observational Puzzle!
For this challenge, we have 3 different images of information boards that can be found near to the route of our Lizard Trail so we decided to set some sneaky questions on all three! As always, they are in an ascending order of difficulty, from easy to hard!
Coverack was a destination for evacuees during World War II and was also bombed in a daring daylight raid in August 1942, when three bombs fell on the village.
Read each of the questions below and then click on the pictures beside them to enlarge and study the images closely.
(Don’t worry – we won’t make you wait a month for the answers – if you are stuck, they can be found here!)
1. Easy Peasy…
Our easy level question is:
Using the map on this ‘Explore Coverack’ information board, starting at the Cliff fort beneath Lankidden, head along the coast.
How many creatures, (insects and animals) are there mentioned “in the sea” between here and Porthoustock?
2. Mind Twister…
Our medium level question is:
From this ‘Maritime History’ information board, add together the number of masts in all the images and multiply this total by the number of oars visible.
This total matches the last 2 digits of a year on this noticeboard.
What are the next 2 words immediately after this date?
3. Brain Buster…
Our hard level question is:
Using the Discover Coverack’s geology notice board, take away the value of the depth between the mantle and the liquid core from the value of the deepest depth on the slice of the Earth.
Taking this total, use the cipher 1=A, 2=B etc, to convert the digits to letters.
Which word on the board contains all 4 of these letters – not necessarily in the same order?
Show your love for our NHS Heroes – by downloading and printing out this poster to put in your front window:
and don’t forget to show your support by sending a heart via this NHS Gratitude map:
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Treasure Trails Admin 8th May 2020