London Bombing in WW2

The VE day 75th anniversary set me thinking about the war and my experiences. A little while ago someone wrote a letter to the Independent about the London Blitz and it provoked a woman to write saying that, whilst she understood that London had suffered and she did not wish to minimize it, but it was nothing like Coventry. My thoughts were, she’s right nothing like Coventry.
Coventry suffered one particular raid by the Luftwaffe on 14th November 1941. It was a very concentrated raid involving 500 German bombers using high explosives and incendiaries. It was intended to seriously disrupt manufacture of aircraft, aero engines and other war material produced in and around the city. It was devastating, 43,000 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged, roughly half of the total buildings in the town. The official death toll was 550 killed, although it was thought the actual total was nearer 700.
There was a number of other raids on Coventry, but nothing as intensive as that big raid, the total number killed in Coventry through the war was put at 1236.
Between 7th September 1940 and 10th May 1941, considered to be the time of the Blitz, there were 71 raids on London of similar magnitude to the Coventry raid, 22,000 were killed and over 60,000 seriously injured. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes. The Luftwaffe concentrated on the City of London and the East End around the docks, but not entirely, during that period the bombing was very widespread also. One must assume that the object was to destroy the morale of the population.

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Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

It had been a delightful Springtime, that is the month of February in Andalucia , Southern Spain. We had been staying there to evade the dreadful weather the UK was experiencing, feeling not smug but grateful as we watched the BBC Look East and Channel 4 News, realising that our friends and family were suffering under the gloom. In fact the only glitch in this brilliant weather was the sad demise of our 17 year old Volvo whose automatic gearbox decided to break; a replacement in Southern Spain, not noted for Volvo dealerships was going to take weeks and would be more costly than the value of the car. We bought a cheap and cheerful Opel Zafira which actually proved to be more practical in accommodating my electric scooter than the venerable Volvo.
News had been breaking for several weeks about the situation in Wuhan and that it had spread rapidly to South Korea and Singapore and over parts of China. I wondered what happened or was happening to North Korea? Would the enforced prohibition or international travel play to their advantage? We watched with increasing concern what was happening to Northern Italy. But we thought Italy is a relatively wealthy country with a functioning healthcare system, separated from the rest of Europe by the Alps and Spain is by the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. But we all forget about the ubiquitous airline travel and how border controls that have been abandoned since the EU was instituted, enabled unlimited cross border travel. We felt safely safe tucked away in Southern Spain hundreds of miles away from the centres of the Covid 19 action. Doreen celebrated her 75th birthday on the 11th March and we had a deliciously long lunch and a walk by the sea before spending a quiet evening watching TV. The next day the weather broke and rumours were circulating that the dreaded virus had been rapidly spreading in Madrid. The local Spanish were furious with the Madrilenos as the wealthy ones were escaping the city to stay at their second homes down on the Mediterranean coast, bringing the virus with them, whether they knew it or not. Our son Rupert decided that he would ride his Triumph triple Sport motorbike crossing to Santander, across Spain to rescue us. Then he would drive us back up through Spain and France in our Opel but that plan was soon wrecked by France and then Spain closing their borders.
As the days ticked by it was becoming clear that the Spanish were going to be taking no chances and, on the 13th March, an effectual martial law was instigated. All the beaches were roped off, no-one was allowed out unless going shopping, to the doctors or pharmacies. Going for casual walking exercise or cycling was banned, being enforced by the local police force. It was prohibited for more than one person to ride in a car, i.e. the driver. The police were stationed at the big supermarkets fining people who were going food shopping as a couple, the fine being a Draconian €6oo. The streets were patrolled by loudspeaker vans warning people to stay indoors and maintain the 2 metre separation, which is anathema to most Spanish who like the Italians are very tactile in their personal behaviour. We had previously booked our return flight on the 5th April , but as we watched the TV news we realised that airports around the World were being closed, Mr. Trump decided he didn’t like Chinese exports after all, and we started checking out Ryanair for an earlier flight. Eventually we got a booking on Friday 20th March at quite a reasonable rate. Breathing little sighs of relief, it suddenly dawned on us that our British friend, who is resident in Spain, would not be able to take us to the airport as usual, risking a €600 fine. Doreen called the local town hall to ask if there were any taxis in the vicinity that could take wheelchair passengers. We had never ever seen one and as a disabled person one is automatically on the lookout for such things, so we had little hope. The lady at the town hall was brilliant. Although she did not know herself about a suitable taxi, within a couple of hours she called us back with the number of a local taxi service designed to take wheelchairs and still maintain a 2 metre separation from each other. She warned us that we could not be 3 people in a car as there was heavy police patrol on the roads. She even wondered if Murcia airport may have closed by then! We were filled with trepidation the whole week worrying whether Ryanair like easyJet were to ground all their aircraft. Then Doreen in her best Spanish called the taxi service and wonder upon wonder they were very accommodating and promised to collect us at 4.00 pm on that Friday. Giving people directions to places over the phone is a business fraught with misunderstanding as the postcode for our place covers about 10 square kilometres, so one has to resort to; “do you know where the Riding School is on the seafront opposite Thomas’s little supermarket well, we are in the street behind that up the Parata hill and left into calle Alegria”. We spent the week packing and cooking for ourselves as there were no cafes or restaurants open. The weather had turned dismal and we were in a pretty dark place mentally. Although the guy on the phone seemed to understand where we were, when the day came, I went down into the street on my electric scooter and watched for any sort of taxi. Spot on at 4.00 pm a large white Ford Transit type people carrier appeared from the opposite direction sporting a large green TAXI sign on the roof. I waved to the driver who rushed up did a u-turn in the middle of the road and out jumped a rather “chunky lady” fully PPE-ed except for the eye protectors. She opened the rear doors of the van and unfolded a large ramp up which I had to drive myself on the scooter. Clearly, I was to ride the whole way on my scooter anchored to the van with an additional seat belt for me. Doreen was in a normal seat just in front of me, which meant that we and the driver were separated by at least 2 metres. This was fine until we went over the first of many speed bumps in the road when my head made painful contact with the roof of the van. We passed unheeded through the village as we could see the police busy interrogating a group of people. Our driver was very competent particularly when negotiating roundabouts which she took at speed such that I, seated rather high on my scooter, had to lean into each corner as if riding in the Isle of Man TT. We arrived in good time at the airport in exchange for €200 and made our way into the Departure Hall to contact the Assistance Desk. We were so relieved to learn that there would be an Ambi-lift available as I was not relishing the climb up the steps into the rear of the aircraft. The place was almost deserted as all the shops except for those selling bottled water at extortionate prices, so we ate our sandwiches and read our books. Time now passed slowly, the sky darkened and at last we could see the lights of our approaching aircraft. The only one on the Departures Board. We were ushered to our seats and donned our face masks and our slightly modified snorkel masks covering our eyes. What a pair we looked.
The flight was pleasantly uneventful and really was the very last flight out of Murcia. Upon arrival Stansted there was an Ambi-lift to take us off the aircraft and my scooter had also made the trip although for some strange reason the ground crew couldn’t find it in the hold. We knew it went in so why wasn’t it coming out? Even the Ambi-lift driver went over to assist and eventually it appeared. How one can mislay an electric scooter in the hold of a medium sized aircraft is quite beyond me.
Doreen had managed to order a Tesco delivery on-line from Spain but 3 days after our return to Norfolk, the government instigated our own UK lock-down. To start with we had no fears of this as we had endured a week’s worth of military lock-down in Spain. We have lovely neighbours who have helped us collecting our medications and food supplies. We are making use of “Norfolk in a Box” and Goddards of Downham and have come back to sparkling Spring sunshine and flowers.
However, the sad news every day of so many people dying and the hospitals and care staff not being able to get the correct protective equipment is terrible when they are putting their lives at risk for the people of this country. The dilemma of when and how to come out of this lockdown remains a problem for us and Europe too. It seems that those of us with underlying health issues will have another 9 weeks at least to survive like this.
It is sad that there are no concerts or shows to see or holidays to plan, but we will just hunker down and wait patiently for the worst to pass. It will never completely pass as the virus will be around now for millennia. So, we will just urge the biochemists to come up will a vaccine as we trust that they will and we shall sleep easier in our beds.

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Wretton Parish Council Meeting January 2020

Present: Cllr David Llewellyn – Chairman, Cllr Mick Peake, Cllr Martyn Cann.
Also present: Borough Councillor Colin Sampson and 1 member of the public
Public Participation
No matters raised
1. Apologies for Absence accepted from:
Apologies for absence received from Cllr Ian Mack, Cllr Peter Garnett, Cllr Paul Williams
and Cllr Mandy Peake. County Councillor Martin Storey also gave apologies.
2. No Declarations of Interest made
3. Approval of Minutes:
The minutes of the meetings held on 04.11.19 and 26.11.19 were confirmed as a true
4. Update on matters arising from previous meetings:
• It was reported that planning application 19/01865/F, which was the subject of the
Parish Council meeting held on 26.11.19, is likely to be refused. The applicant has
asked for an extension to allow further information to be provided to support the
application but it appears refusal is likely to be recommended by the planning review
5. Reports
5.1 Chairman’s Report
• A parish newsletter was not issued prior to Christmas as was hoped.
• The Chairman is still working on improvements to the Parish Council website and the
Church has been offered a page within the community section.
• It was suggested past Parish Council minutes could be digitalised and enquiries will
be made.
• The Council will consider a document storage/retention policy at the next parish
council meeting.
5.2 Clerk’s Report
Correspondence passed to Councillors:
Relatively quiet time over the Christmas period but of note information has been passed to
Councillors re. change of local bus services and of tours to the Materials Recycling Facility
at Costessey in 2020. Other regular correspondence received includes Norfolk ALC
newsletters and Police newsletters.
Cold Calling Zone
Cllr. Paul Williams had suggested establishing a No Cold Calling Zone in Wretton.
Information has been passed to Councillors and consideration will possibly be given to the
idea at a future meeting, if a local co-ordinator can be identified.
5.3 Risk Assessment Update
Work has been undertaken on the pedestrian gate to the play area as suggested in the
annual play equipment inspection report. Councillors will take a look at the work done
before the invoice is settled.
6. Accounts were presented and accepted for payment.
Cheques for approval of payment
Payments for Jan. 20 2019
Clerks Salary £118.44
SLCC subs £44.00
Street Light Maintenance (Dec. Jan) £38.64
CGM grass cutting £156.00
Bonnetts (play area gate) £42.00
Bank Balances at 29.11.19
Current Account £6252.51
Savings Account £3464.20
Current account holds CIL money of £2196 with another £1441.01 received 28.10.19
Transparency Grant of £1225 has now almost been spent. Approx. £168 remains within the
current account
7. Project Updates
7.1 Phone box defibrillator – the project is now felt to be complete.
7.2 Wretton Green “pond” area – Cllr Paul Williams has had most recent input to this
project but he was not present to give any update. It was noted however the “pond” area
is now looking better than it had been!
8. Budget needs and precept request for 2020/21
Councillors were presented with a current budget position and this was considered in
preparation for setting the 2020/21 budget and precept request.
It was agreed to set a budget and precept request of £5139. It is expected this will result
in a 2020/21 Council tax charge of £35.74 for a Band D property.
9. No Planning Applications received for consultation
10. Other Reports – for information only:
• It was noted that the hedge which was removed in Chequers Lane has a
replacement notice issued to reinstate the hedge by 29.02.20. The Parish Council
would like to see the hedge planted to aid visibility at the adjacent junction. Borough
Councillor Colin Sampson was asked if he could investigate whether this would be
• Untaxed vehicles parking on the verge is an issue. This has been reported to the
appropriate authorities. Colin Sampson was asked to report vehicles and the location
to the Police as it is possible to visit Downham Market Police Station to speak directly
to Officers.

Wretton Parish Council November Meeting Minutes

Present: Cllr David Llewellyn – Chairman,
Cllr Mick Peake, Cllr Mandy Peake, Cllr Martyn Cann, Cllr Peter Garnett, Cllr Paul Williams.
Also present: Borough Councillor Colin Sampson and 1 member of the public
Public Participation
No matters raised
1. Apologies for Absence accepted from:
Apologies for absence received from Cllr Ian Mack.
2. Declaration of Interest made:
Cllr Paul Williams declared an interest in item 11.
3. Approval of Minutes:
The minutes of the meeting held on 27.08.19 were confirmed as a true record.
4. Update on matters arising from previous meetings:
• One battery for the Vehicle Activated Speed Sign is good but it is thought the other
is in need of replacement. Cllr. Martyn Cann offered to investigate replacement.
• It was noted that the grass cutting contractor has quoted £12.50 per occasion to
add cutting the grass triangle at the entrance to Fen Drove and the grass verge at
All Saints, opposite the triangle, to the ground’s maintenance contract. Highways will
be approached to ensure this would be acceptable.
• The signs for the defibrillator have been placed on the phone box and notice has
been posted in the “Pump” stating that the defibrillator is operational. Cllr Ian Mack
is to provide content for a village flyer to promote awareness of the defibrillator.
• The Chairman hopes a village flyer can be compiled and delivered before Christmas.
• It was noted that the Borough Council are aware of a mobile home at the Old
Gatehouse, Wretton and it should be known by the next meeting whether planning
enforcement action will be necessary.
5. Reports
5.1 Chairman’s Report
• The new Wretton Parish Council website is now fully operational but content still
needs to be updated and added to. The website is seen as a community website and
All Saints Church will be asked if they would like a page on the site.
• The Chairman has received a complaint about vehicles parking along Low Road
causing visibility problems.
5.2 Clerk’s Report
Correspondence passed to Councillors:
• Norfolk ALC Bulletins 23.10.19 and 20.11.19. Norfolk ALC AGM to be held at County
Hall 20.11.19
• Norfolk Minerals & Waste Local Plan – Preferred Options consultation 10.09.19
• Norfolk PTS Seminar 20.11.19 West Costessey Hall £60 per delegate
• Norfolk PTS training 01.11.19
• Police Newsletters 17.09.19 and 26.10.19. Noted new Inspector for Downham
Market area is Vicky Hebborn. Nearest Police drop-in is at Central Café Feltwell on
07.11.19 1-4pm
• RAF Marham Community Information Event 30.10.19 – e-mail dated 25.09.19
• Local Plan Review 27.09.19
• NCF Grant Funding News 25.10.10
• NCC Budget Consultation 2020/21 23.10.19
• Norfolk Fire & Rescue Services Draft Integrated Risk Management Plan 29.10.19
• Digging up Norfolk 01.11.19
• CPRE Norfolk Voice Newsletter 01.11.19
Other correspondence:
• New Highway Services Manager at Saddlebow. Karl Rands has moved on to be
replaced by Jason Moorse
• House name notification 10 Low Road to be named Paddock View
• Donation request letter received from Citizens Advice Bureau
• Norfolk ALC Seminar Community Well-being, Environment and Parish & Town
Update from previous meetings
Replanting of hedge – Land at Chequers Road
From BCKLWN “We have issued a formal Notice to secure the replanting of the hedge in
Wretton. It specifies the type of species to be used, when they should be planted and
distances between the individual plants. The Notice has a map which shows the area in
which the plants are to be put, which is the area where the old hedgerow stood. We can be
no more specific than that.”
Play Area Lease
A copy of the lease for the play area has been obtained from the Diocese. The lease is in
place until 25.03.2028.
Other Reports
• Parish Paths Seminar
I attended the Norfolk Local Access Parish Paths Seminar on 28.10.19 and copies of the
presentations have been forwarded to Councillors. It is apparent that Norfolk County
Council (NCC) is keen to stress to Town & Parish Councils that self-help is the way forward
as NCC funding becomes more stretched. It is suggested that Parish Partnership funding is
made use of and that CIL money could help fund works such as footpath maintenance.
• Footpath from Peake Fitness to Stoke Ferry
Highways have notified me that the hedges have been cut back along the footpath but
there has been concern raised that the footpath is too narrow for use by a mobility scooter.
This has been passed back to Highways who have responded to say that works will be
completed when resources permit.
5.3 Risk Assessment Update
The Annual play equipment inspection report has been received and considered under item
6. Accounts were presented and accepted for payment.
Cheques for approval of payment
Clerk’s salary £118.44
K & M Lighting Services x2 (streetlight maintenance) £38.64
Poppy wreath donation £18.50
CGM grass cutting £156.00
CGM cutting of footpaths £144.00
Play Equipment Inspection £84.00
HMRC PAYE £44.40
Postage £9.06
Finance at 30.09.19
Community Account £5693.22
Business Premium Account £3464.20
Noted that CIL payment of £1441.01 was received 28.10.19 and is held within the
community account, together with £2196 CIL received previously.
7. Weight Restriction Signage?
The issue of heavy vehicles traversing through the village remains a concern and will
continue to be monitored
8. Play Equipment Inspection Report 2019
Councillors had previously been presented with a copy of the Annual Play Equipment
Inspection Report. No matters have been deemed to need immediate attention and a
working party will undertake the minor works suggested, including trimming back of
overhead branches. The equipment will be monitored for deterioration of the wood in
particular and a slamming plate will be added to the gate.
9. Project Updates
9.1 Phone box defibrillator – all is felt to have gone well with the project to site a
defibrillator in the village phone box. Signs for the defibrillator are now up and lighting of
the box is felt to be adequate.
9.2 Wretton Green “pond” area – Cllr Paul Williams was thanked for clearing the “pond”
area and he will continue to investigate ways to fill the depression.
10. Budget needs and precept request for 2020/21
Councillors were presented with a current budget position and asked to look at this in
preparation for setting the budget and the precept request at the next Parish Council
meeting on January 6th 2020.
11. Planning Applications:
11.1 Replacement roof with height increase and two storey extension to dwelling at Oak
Tree, Chequers Road, Wretton, Norfolk PE33 9QS 19/01822/F
No objections
Overlooking on to other properties was considered but felt not to be an issue.
It was noted that a non-material amendment to a planning proposal for Fairview related to
the need to build a sewage treatment plant for the development as no connection could be
made to the main sewer.
12. Other Reports – for information only:
• Councillor Williams offered to fix spikes to the top of the frame of the small swings in
the play area to deter pigeons.
• Investigation will be undertaken as to how Wretton might be designated as a cold
calling zone.
Chairman’s Signature……………………………………… Date……………