A Wonderful Wartime Christmas Party at RAF Cardington - The Gasbag December 2012
Below are extracts from a Bedford newspaper report dated 9th January 1945 describing a Christmas party held at RAF Cardington for orphaned war time children in the previous week. This heartwarming article gives us an insight into life during WWII and shows us the community spirit that was prevalent in these years with staff giving up their food rations for the party and making toys for the children.
“Whether they’re dropping bombs on the enemy or giving parties the RAF like things to “go down big” and one of the best children’s parties that could be given took place at Cardington RAF Station on Wednesday, when over 140 children from Bedford and district who had lost their fathers in the war, or whose fathers were prisoners, were entertained at the Station. £100 for the party was collected in the Sergeants Mess No 89 Air Stores Park, RAF Ceylon and the sergeants of this mess would have felt amply repaid for their generosity had they seen the splendid show which had been put up by their Air Force colleagues at Cardington, and the great joy and appreciation of the children.
The Mayor and Mayoress ( Mr & Mrs J A Canvin) were present with several RAF and WAAF officers and staff, and another very welcome guest was Mrs Harte, wife of Wing Commander C S W Harte, O C of the RAF Station in Ceylon where the idea of the party originated. Sgt Barnett from this mess, who is on his way home, had hoped to make an appearance but unfortunately did not arrive home in time.
Invitations were sent out by the Mayor, and the entertainment and catering were done by Flt-Lieut T C G Rosby. The delicious cakes and pastries for which all the Cardington personnel had given up a portion of their rations were made on the Station. The programme consisted of an hour’s cinema show, in which several most enjoyable films of the Walt Disney variety were shown; a tea of pre-war party dimensions was given in a large hall decorated with Christmas trees and evergreens and lit by fairy lights. RAF and WAAF officers and personnel waited at table, and the soft lights of the hall were enhanced by the sweet music which was played by a full dance band belonging to the Station.
After tea there were games, and a conjuring show by Lieut Jones, and dancing by June Butler and Bronwen Jones who also gave a show of ventriloquism. Father Christmas (Sgt Duff) arrived at the end of the party and presented each child with a really good present, many of which having been made in the Cardington workshops. The MC was W/O Tilbury.
A short speech was made by the Mayor, who led cheers for the Sergeants Mess in Cyprus, for Group Captain A R Arnold D SC, D F C and his staff at Cardington, for the MC and Flt Lieut Rosby and his staff for the splendid tea and show, and for the school teachers who brought the children to the tea. The National Anthem was then played and sung, and the tired but happy children were transported home by the RAF.”
What a wonderful party that must have been – who needs tins of Quality Street or the Internet to have a good time!
The Gasbag Dec 2012