After 6 years 4 months full-time service in H.M. Forces it was not easy to adapt to civilian life again. … I had married in 1942 … In almost four years of married life our total time together amounted to no more than three months …
On my last leave, before I was demobilised on January 3rd 1946, we inspected houses under construction in Colchester, as I knew I would have to return to my former employment at the Town Hall. All private houses then being built were regulated, and could only be sold to returning members of the Forces. This was decreed by the Labour government, which was very helpful to us. Price was also limited to a maximum of £1,200 for a house, which was also restricted to a maximum floor area of 1,000 sq.ft. We settled on No. 23 All Saints Avenue, about to be built by W.A. Hills & Sons.
It wouldn’t, however, be available until June 1946 so we had to find alternative accommodation in the meantime. [My wife] Frances scouted around, in my absence, and found very nice lodgings for us at 15 Ireton Road. We rented two furnished rooms and shared our land-lady’s kitchen … Although not in full-employment, Frances continued to do casual nursing until we moved into our new house.
At the beginning of February 1946 I went back to my old job in the Borough Treasurer’s Department where everything seemed much the same as when I left it, except that there had been a large influx of temporary staff who had kept things going during the absence of regular staff on war service – the P.A.Y.E. system had been introduced in 1944 enabling tax to be collected at source, by deductions from employees’ pay, rather than relying on them to submit returns and pay on demand at the close of each year.
Our house was semi-detached and I was very pleased to find out that one of my colleagues, Mr. H. L. (“Nut”) Simpson, was the purchaser of the house next door.
We had moved into our own house in July 1946 and, not having a great deal of money, we were able to furnish one reception room and one bedroom. Coupons were available, with which we obtained Utility furniture for the bedroom, plus four dining chairs. The remainder had to be purchased at a higher price, if new, or from a second-hand shop or auction room. We saw a beautiful mahogany dining room suite in London, which was held in reserve for us for a month but we could not get transport to bring it to Colchester within that time – all vehicles had to have loads booked for both inward and outward journeys before they were permitted to move.
Having failed in our attempt to buy the dining room suite we settled for a new dining table which we purchased locally. I discovered later that it was alive with woodworm which I cured by soaking it in paraffin oil. We managed to find a carpet square and two small imitation leather armchairs to complete the furnishing of the room. This, apart from a cot; a radio; a small wooden desk bought second-hand; and two wooden chairs discarded by the Town Hall, comprised our furniture for the first few years of our married life.
When the late Mr. Fred Jacklin called a meeting late 1946 at his restaurant in High Street (of all men who had served in the Essex Yeomanry and Essex R.H.A.) with the object of forming a Colchester Branch of the Regimental Association, I accepted the invitation to become one of the Joint Treasurers, with him, of the new Branch. I have retained this job, with two short breaks (one of which was in order to take the post of President in 1965/66) ever since. It has been a most satisfying job and it has enabled me to keep in touch with many of my Army pals. Since the death of Mr. Jacklin I have been largely responsible for organising the Annual Re-union, in co-operation with the present Secretary, Mr. Noel Underdown, who has carried out the duties of toastmaster.
After the untimely death of Mr. Doug Drake on 6th June 1984, while attending the 40th Anniversary of ‘D! Day celebrations in Normandy, I again took over the organisation of an annual outing which I had run for a number of years in the 1950’s.
[N.B. After World War Two there was a shortage paper: surplus army maps were used to manufacture envelopes etc. The reverse sides of maps were blank so they were ideal for the outside of envelopes (as shown above) and writing paper. Dudley Brient, founder of Dudley Stationery (in Bow, London), was one of the first entrepreneurs to realize the opportunity to satisfy business and personal demand for such items, in post-War Britain. HAJ]