IF readers cast their minds back to Christmas 2011 they may remember a story in Bugle 1007 on wartime pencils. Jean Withers saw the story and since then she has been meaning to bring along to our offices her own box of wartime pencils, untouched in 70 years, and recently she did just that.
The pencils belonged to her father Leslie Withers who was a pattern maker in Coventry during the Second World War, although he had apprenticed in Birmingham. Because of his job, Leslie was allowed to have pencils, the supply of which was strictly controlled by the government – which gives some idea of how short supplies of wood were during the war.
The pencils are labeled “war drawing” and their supply was controlled by SRO 1942/985 – SRO standing for Statutory Rules and Orders, the system by which the government published its orders, regulations and delegated legislation between 1893 and 1948.
Timber was a vital necessity for the war effort. Before the war much wood was imported but the increased demand and attacks on Allied shipping led to government control of its supply.
Wood was needed for making airframes and rifle butts but also for more mundane items, such as tent pegs, millions of which were needed by the armed services.
Women played their part with the establishment of the Women’s Timber Corps, an offshoot of the Women’s Land Army, in 1942. The “lumberjills” replaced men called up to the armed services and worked in the forests and sawmills.
l Was anyone in your family a wartime lumberjill? Please share any pictures or stories you have. Contact dshaw@ blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to the editorial address on page 2