At London Civil Defence Regional HQ newsletters were compiled regularly throughout the war with news of how former colleagues were getting on in the armed forces. Newsletter No 8 was issued in March 1944 and started with a ‘special message’ :-
“We are honoured on this occasion in being able to include a special message for you all from the Chief Administrative Officer Mr A S Hutchinson CVO. Mr Hutchinson says:- ‘Since the beginning of 1941 more than 50 of you have left London Region to join the Forces. Before the end of the war, some of you, in offensive operations against the enemy, will have been called on to endure even greater hardships and dangers than you endured in the Battle of London : others will look back on that battle as the time of their greatest effort.
To all of you, your friends and comrades in Civil Defence, preparing now for the possibility of renewed demands upon them, send their remembrances and wish you the best of luck and a speedy and victorious return.’”
“Jimmy Ives, who has now been in the RAF two and a half years, was seen a few weeks ago in Exhibition Road surrounded by feminine members of the staff. After that he seems to have been submerged, because we did not see him again. We remember noticing he had a very red face, though whether that was the campaigning or the company we do not know.”
We had a long visit from W G Poulter, who is now Flying Officer. He has been for several months in the Arizona Desert instructing American Fighter Pilots. He is now in Fighter Command in this country and his address is the Queens Hotel Harrogate. The day before he left the States he married a charming American blonde.”
The next newsletter (#9) was circulated six months later – reporting tragic news:-
“Now as regards those of you who have gone from us to serve in offensive operations, we have first to report the sad news of the loss of Jimmy Ives while on a bombing raid over Germany and A E Clifford who was killed in action while serving as a Captain with an Anti-Tank unit.”
Jim Ives was, of course, already dead by the time Newsletter #8 was circulated. His former workmates at LCDRHQ would not learn of his demise until Lilian’s letter, written to him mid-February, was returned to in May.
Alma Coombs had sent a copy of both newsletters to colleague Cecil Gardener (who was still convalescing at home) with a covering letter dated 17th November 1944. Alma’s reaction to the news of Allan Clifford’s death is redolent of the time –
‘Rather bad luck about Alan isn’t it, I suppose we have to expect these things now although they still come as a bit of a shock, lets hope its all over soon.’
If anyone can tell me anything at all about Captain Allan Clifford or F/O William G Poulter please contact me here or via the website contact button.