Local History Society

 Memories - Public Notices in wartime

A.R.P. Black-Out Simulation Exercise, May 1939

The wartime local newspapers didn't start their news until page 2; the front page was reserved mostly for announcements of births, marriages and deaths, local entertainments, and official notices.

On May 19th 1939, the 'Times and Weekly News' announced:

Public Notice: National Service – Berkshire

REQUIRED AT ONCE: Territorial Army, 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment; R.A.O.C., (all types of skilled craftsmen); Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, […], County Police: Special Constables: Arborfield, Bearwood, […], Woodley & Earley, Wokingham. ENROL NOW.


On December 27th 1941, war was declared on a new enemy:


Berkshire War Agricultural Executive Committee

Grey Squirrels

Under many conditions Grey Squirrels may be a serious menace to Agriculture, and, as there is cumulative evidence that they are largely on the increase in the county, the County War Agricultural Committee desire to impress upon all occupiers of property on which Grey Squirrels exist, the need for their destruction. An advisory pamphlet as to the best way of doing this may be had on application to the Executive Officer of the County War Agricultural Committee at 1, Abbot’s Walk, Reading.

While the County War Agricultural Committee will be loath to do so, they will not hesitate, in appropriate cases, to use their powers and serve a Statutory Order requiring those having the right to destroy grey squirrels to do so. Failure to carry out such an Order is an offence against the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939.

More threats of official action lurked in the following announcement on November 21st 1942:


Berkshire War Agricultural Executive Committee

Unthatched Ricks

Having regard to the very large number of unthatched ricks throughout the County, the Committee think it well to draw the attention of farmers to the terms of General Defence Regulation 62(a), which provides that: -

"If the crop harvested from any agricultural land is damaged or goes to waste as the result of any failure or delay in the occupier of the land in taking such steps as are reasonable to keep the crop in good condition, the occupier shall be guilty of an offence against this regulation and shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding £50."

The Committee would urge all farmers who have not already done so, to take all necessary steps to act at once to prevent deterioration of valuable crops by thatching all ricks, and if any individual case the Committee is not satisfied that such steps as were reasonably possible have not been taken, they will not hesitate to submit the facts to the Minister of Agriculture with a request that proceedings may be initiated.

The Committee are fully conscious of the difficulties under which many farmers are today labouring owing to labour shortage, and they are prepared to consider applications for assistance from the Committee’s gang labour.

C. DALGLIESH, Executive Officer, 1, Abbot’s Walk, Reading, 14th November 1942.

A photo from July 24th 1943 showed a thatched rick:

'F. A. J. Benson (inset), the 15-years-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Benson, of Field Barn Farm, Benson, with the rick he built and thatched at his first attempt.'

Example of a thatched hay-rick

The warning was repeated on September 9th 1944:


Berkshire War Agricultural Executive Committee


The attention of farmers is drawn to the urgent need to get all corn ricks thatched as soon as possible [the announcement promised that the committee would take action against farmers who didn’t comply in good time].


Mr. Goddard of Arborfield complied with this notice, but as the 'Times and Weekly News' reported on October 13th 1944:

Rick Fire

The Wokingham Division of the National Fire Service attended a rick fire, which broke out at Greensward Lane, Arborfield, on Saturday last, the property of Mr. W. Goddard of Arborfield.

The local bus company made less-official announcements during 1943:

January 2nd: Thames Valley - Sunday Bus Announcement

The Thames Valley Traction Co., Ltd.

Sunday Bus Services

In conformity with the policy of the Ministry of War Transport, commencing on Sunday, 3rd January, 1943, no services will be run on Sunday mornings except for the conveyance of workers engaged upon work of National Importance.

To enable the Company to make the necessary arrangements for any such special workers' services, factory managements are requested to send full particulars of their requirements. Applications for any such special facilities can only be entertained when made through the managements of firms and not by individuals.

T. Graham Homer, A.I.E.E., M. Inst. T., General Manager, Lower Thorn Street, Reading.

[Arborfield kept its Sunday service.]

"Look out in the Blackout"

A series of advertisement appeared from January 1943, each containing a cartoon figure and a poem, from Thames Valley Traction.

'Look Out in the Black-out'

January 2nd:




'Behold the ghost of Amos Jones,
A 'Bus - at night - broke all his bones.
He failed to carry something white;
He neither looked to left nor right;
So with regret we now relate,
How Amos met his horrid fate!'








'Look Out in the Black-Out'

January 9th:




Cyclists all, please take a hint
From the sad fate of Alfrède Dint.
Don't swerve, or wobble
- or let your light
Flicker out - in the black of night.
For all these faults will surely lead
To a similar end as poor Alfrède.








January 16th:



A careless man, Ezekiel Clowne,
He would not keep his torchlight down.
He flashed it in the driver's face,
Really a most regrettable case.
Ezekiel now will never see
The brave New World that's going to be.









On January 30th 1943, the 'Thames Valley' varied its message with this announcement:

Thames Valley Traction

We couldn’t run a ‘bus on one tyre.

But with 90% of the world’s rubber resources in enemy hands,
and the remaining 10% barely sufficient for our Forces –
that is all the rubber that will be left for ‘buses when existing tyres wear out.

Every time you hail or stop a ‘bus away from a fixed stopping point –
that causes wear on the tyres –
so take a walk to the stopping point now.

It’s better than walking all the way next year!

One of many public service announcements by the energy companies:

One of many light-hearted messages from the energy industry

. . . . another from the railway companies:

. . . . . . and a sponsored advertisement for 'The Peoples Pantry' (which was later hit by a bomb on February 10th 1943):

Advert for the People's Pantry, sponsored by brewers H. & G. Simonds Ltd.

With acknowledgements to:

Berkshire Media ('Reading Mercury' - Copyright images; used by permission).


Back to 'Newspapers in Wartime' Main Page

Back to Memories Page


Any Feedback or comments on this website?  Please e-mail the webmaster