Film ID: YFA 2295 Video of YFA 2295 Ecclesfield Holiday Week (1942) ECCLESFIELD HOLIDAY WEEK 1942-1943 1942 Visitor TabsDescription This is a film made by Chapeltown dentist Willie Thorne of Ecclesfield Holiday Week in 1942, set in Ecclesfield Park with people playing bowls and tennis, a women’s cricket match, children in a swimming pool, having races and playing on swings, and a game of baseball being played by American GIs. Title – Chapeltown Film Society Presents: Ecclesfield Holiday Week 1942 The film opens in Ecclesfield Park, Sheffield, with men playing bowls with more watching sat on the sidelines. In the rest of the park, with the Church of St. Mary in the background, there is a children’s sports competition, including sprinting, with parents watching. The winners pose for the camera. There is then a girl’s three legged race. The film then switches to show members of the Home Guard training on a rifle range, and boy scouts making a fire on the ground. Behind them someone holds a tin with the words 'Ecclesfield Holiday Week' on the side. Two men stand at a microphone commenting on an outdoor boxing match watched by a sizeable crowd, including an off-duty soldier. Two men, possibly local dignitaries, have a chat with a police officer. One woman, sat on the grass, has some problems with her small child, while other children, and some women, paddle in a small pool, and there is also a larger swimming pool with children. Others lay snoozing on the grass. A boy gets as high as he can stood on a swing. Others crowd onto an ‘umbrella’ in the playground. A long line queue for the slide. A girl is also shown stood up on a swing. Some adults play tennis and then back to the bowls. People gather around a bandstand where a brass band is playing. There is an all women cricket match being played, with some bowling under arm. The film finishes off with a game of baseball being played by American GIs, many of them black, watched by a large crowd. (These men are believed to be members of the 65th Ordnance Company, the 315 in number, US Army personnel who were THE FIRST black servicemen to arrive across the Atlantic during WW2. They were based over at Wortley Hall whilst they established a munitions store there that superseded the RAF one initially in operation.) Context This film was among many donated to the YFA by the Chapeltown and High Green Archive. These films were made up of three different collections: High Green Secondary School throughout the 1950s; the Willie Thorne Collection of films taken during World War Two and films from the Unit 8 and Vixen cine clubs based at Thorncliffe and Stocksbridge Steelworks – on these last see the Context for Short Stop (1960). This film was one of about a dozen made during the war by Willie Thorne of events and activities in the Chapeltown area, on the outskirts of Sheffield. Willie Thorne was a local dentist who made both colour and black and white films on 16mm film, and presumably given the opening credit, Chapeltown Film Society. There were many such film societies or clubs across Yorkshire at this time, but it isn’t known what become of this one – see the Context for Kelly's Eye(1972) for more on local cine clubs. As well as Holiday Week, the films cover War Weapons Week, Salute the Soldier Week and Wings for Victory Week, film of the Home Guards and of the victory celebrations in 1945 – see also Hunshelf Gun Site (1940). As can be seen, the films tend to be of major local events rather than everyday life, although one outcrop at Wentworth from 1943, shows local coal mining. This may well be because film would have been expensive and difficult to come by during the war. This focus on events is a pattern of films made in the war; although there are some exceptions, such as Chapters In Our Lives - Horton Family (1938-1950) made by Rotherham steelworker Ernest Horton, which is primarily film of family life during the war. Although the film is called ‘Holiday Week’, in fact it would have been part of ‘Holidays at Home’, a government initiative designed to save on fuel, and give priority to military related rail travel, but also to keep up morale. The idea was for local authorities to arrange for events in their area as a substitute to travelling away. There was nothing to stop anyone legally from holidaying on a Yorkshire beach – and daresay some did – but the films that YFA have only show holidaying families doing this right at the beginning and end of the war: Rachel Discovers the Sea (1939) and Yorkshire Beaches (1945). Holiday camps like Butlin’s at Filey were turned over to the military for the duration of the war. The thinking behind Holidays at Home seems to have been somewhat muddled, and they were opposed by some, not least by reasoning that a holiday away from home might be better for morale than one on ones own doorstep – see the Context for Holidays at Home (1944). It might also be thought that most of the activities shown in the film are ones that would normally take place on a summer weekend anyway. This would certainly include the children on the swings. The boy and the girl standing on the swings would have been a common enough sight until possibly the 1980s (?), when health and safety concerns led to the dismantling of big swings and other rides considered dangerous – like the ‘umbrella’ which can be see packed with kids. Apart from trying to get the swing to go as high as it could, when the chains would lose their tautness, children would jump off them when they were at the right point in a competition to see who could land the furthest out. Needless to say, the boy and girl seen standing on the swings in the film would today be told to sit down – especially if being filmed by a doctor! See also the Context for Arch Bishop Holgate School (c1957) for changes in playground activities. It might be wondered why there are so many children given the large numbers evacuated during the war, especially from potential industrial areas like Sheffield and Rotherham. The great majority of the first wave of evacuation in September 1939 had returned home by the following January. But the second wave, on the eve of the Battle of Britain in 1940, mainly stayed away until late 1944, even though bombing had died off considerably since the end of the blitz in July 1941. It might well be that some of the children in the film had returned home specifically for holiday week. The two exceptions to this are the women’s cricket match and the baseball match. It may be that the game on the film is just a one-off fun game (one of the women bowls under-arm, and they don’t look as if they play regularly), but women’s cricket was in vogue in Yorkshire at that time, especially in West Yorkshire, in places like Todmorden and Brighouse – see Peter Davies, of the Cricket Research Centre, References. The Women’s Cricket Association was set up in 1928, merging with the English and Wales Cricket Board in 1998. Yet despite this history the game for women is still marginalised. Dominic Malcolm and Philipa Velija state that the evidence points to no increase in girl’s, or women’s, participation in cricket in recent years, with just 1% of all the ECB’s 533,000 affiliated members being female. They present an interesting argument for at least part of the reason for this. Using the theory of established-outsider relations of Elias and Scotson – an established framework in the sociology of sport – they maintain that the experience of mixed-sex cricket is often negative. Together with prevailing beliefs about the inappropriateness of cricket for women in society, this produces a negative image of themselves which gets internalised by women cricketers, reinforcing the existing male dominated power structures in the sport. A similar phenomenon might be found also in relation to baseball. Here too women play baseball (and have done for almost as long as the men), but this again is marginalised, and women tend to play softball instead – although interestingly a women’s baseball league was created during the Second World War, only for the sponsors to pull out at the war’s end. For the large crowd watching the baseball this would have been a novel experience, one of many novelties brought over by the 1.5 million American GIs (‘Government Issue') who came here during the war (one estimate puts it at three million American service personnel in all). The ones in the film would have been relatively new arrivals, with the first ones, of around four thousand, arriving in Britain on January 26, 1942. Of the 250,000 US troops in Britain by the end of 1942, most were pilots or aircrew servicemen stationed in Norfolk and Suffolk – ground forces didn’t start arriving in numbers until autumn 1943. They were stationed in self-contained and closed bases, and didn’t need to have contact with the locals. Nevertheless, British Welcome Clubs were set up in towns across the country (though not until 1944, and excluding black GIs who had their own ‘Silver Birch Clubs’), and GIs organised all kinds of events and treats for British children, including those evacuated and orphaned – see Juliet Gardner, 2005. The arrival of the (conscripted) GIs caused a moral panic in Britain: with the National Council of Women, the government, the press and various other bodies: such as the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene. This was not only because of the propensity of GIs to chat up British women (‘good time girls’) – and by many accounts more effectively than British men – but also because many of them were black (around 130,000 African-Americans: the US policy was for 10% black soldiers). The GIs were segregated according to colour, and discriminated against as they were back home (the so-called ‘Jim Crow laws’): in this film almost all of the GIs who can be seen are black. There are many reported occasions of white GIs physically assaulting black US soldiers and even West Indians who had come to Britain as part of the war effort. They also suffered prejudice from the British, as did those from the West Indies – see the story on the BBC People's War site, and the fictional account in Small Island, References. There were segregated fish and chip shops and pubs, and segregated dances: and white British women marrying black US soldiers was especially frowned upon (though not illegal, as it was in 20 US States ), and white British women who got involved with black US Soldiers were ostracised. The Ministry of Information even made a film for white US soldiers to respect the less segregated customs of Britain, Welcome to Britain (1943). It wasn’t until the spring of 1943, when the first babies of mixed race were born, that attitudes towards black US soldiers really hardened. It was estimated that that there were 553 babies of mixed race, of whom 92 were to married couples, 98 to unmarried, and the rest unknown (Smith, p 208). The soldiers seen in this film would undoubtedly have been some the all black 65th Ordnance Company who arrived from Fort Dix, New Jersey in the middle of July 1942 at the nearby small village of Wortley. They were joined the following month by a further 98 black GIs. They had come to service an aerial bomb depot in the vicinity, and were barracked at Wortley Hall, the home of Lord Wharncliffe. According to the detailed account of this by Graham Smith, the locals of Wortley and Sheffield got on very well with the black soldiers, apart from some young men who resented them having relations with local young women. They were resented too by Lord Wharncliffe, who didn’t like having them milling around his living quarters. The GIs themselves had to get used to many things: apart from driving on the other side of the road, and the blackout, there was also the absence of road and rail station signs, to confuse German parachutists. They also brought luxury items, like nylons and silk scarves, and of course chewing gum, bought in the US PX/ Post Exchange stores (as well as the lingo: ‘snacks’, ‘kids’, ‘OK’). No wonder they were very popular with British women, who in many places were barred from fraternising with GIs (VD shot up, and condoms were issued free to GIs from early 1943). Nevertheless, it is estimated that around 70,000 British women married GIs – and it wasn’t only the men who were impressed, Quentin Crisp declared: “Never in the history of sex was so much offered to so many by so few.” (Quoted in Gardiner, 2004, p 554) Many personal accounts relate how GIs had a much more informal manner, and laid back attitude, strikingly at odds with the class ridden mores of the English. They also brought with them records which weren’t available over here, sparking a following for blues and jazz among young British musicians. (with thanks to Linda Hill, Huddersfield Library Local Studies) References Peter Davies, GIRLS ALOUD! Women and Cricket in Yorkshire c.1880-2000, paper. Juliet Gardiner, Over Here: The GIs in Wartime Britain (London. UK: Collins and Brown, 1992. Juliet Gardiner, The Children’s War, Portrait, London, 2005. Juliet Gardner, Wartime: Britain 1939-1945, Headline, London, 2004. Huddersfield Examiner, 20th Sept 1943, ‘Huddersfield Girls And Coloured Soldiers, A delicate problem for the social worker,"Gold Diggers" who prey upon American Troops’; 29th Sept 1943, "Girls Who Prey On Negroes"; 8th October 1943, ‘"Girls Who Prey On Negroes” , A Coloured Soldier's Standpoint’. Andrea Levy, Small Island, Headline Review, 2004. Dominic Malcolm and Philipa Velija, ‘Look it’s a Girl: Cricket and Gender Relations in the UK’, Sport in Society, Vol. 12, No 4/5, May-June, 2009, pp 629-642. Sonya O. Rose, Which people's war? national identity and citizenship in Britain, 1939-1945, Oxford University Press, 2003. Graham Smith, When Jim Crow met John Bull: Black American soldiers in World War II Britain, Tauris, 1988 Cricket Research Centre The Yorkshire Women’s Cricket Association Tal Barak, Men Play Baseball, Women Play Softball BBC People's War site The GIs in Britain During World War II Further Reading David Reynolds, Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain, 1942-1945, Random House, New York, 1995. Neil A. Wynn, ‘Race War: Black American GIs and West Indians in Britain During The Second World War’, in Immigrants and Minorities, Volume 24, Issue 3 November 2006, pp 324 – 346.