EARLY LIFE of William James Hunt #5
We set off for Knighton on the Saturday 1st of March 1941. It took us from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. three changes to get there. When we eventually arrived there, it was raining very hard and a very small station. I asked the man taking tickets, where we could get a taxi. He said, "You must be kidding, we have no taxi here." Then he gave us instruction as to where the school was situated.
Off Reg and I went, we had a long way to walk up this lane to get to the main road to find the school. It was still raining and when we got to the watchman's hut, he said, "You are to see the boss Sunday Morning at 9:30 a.m. (March 2, 1941), you were booked in at the hotel on top of the hill by the clock tower." Which meant that we had to walk all the way back! We had almost a mile to walk back to the little town. When we arrived, the man in the hotel said, "Where have you come from?" We were like drowned rats and when I told him he said, "Why didn't you give me a ring. I could have sent my daughter to pick you up from the station. Get those cloths off and have a shower, then come down for supper." I will meat his daughter later when we had the school ready to start production. We stayed at the hotel for a few nights, and then they found us digs on top of that hill with Mr and Mrs Roberts.
We arrived at the school a little late, as yesterday had taken its toll on us. The Watchman took us to see our new boss. We had a long talk with him and he was very thorough in asking us about our knowledge of the Precision Instruments. We had to be tested on those by him and we passed with "flying colours." I must have given him a lot of confidence in me to come and ask me to do anything "special" he needed doing. I know I must have made a good impression on him. Six months later I was made up to become his assistant manager. I was born to be a leader, when you read on you will find how "God was guiding me all my life". I did not realize at that time. I did say that God has a purpose for each one of us. I believe that with God's help I can become the person that he wants me to be.
We had a very busy six weeks, we never went out anywhere at night; we never finished until 8 pm. Also he asked us if we would be willing to work seven days a week to get the place finished on time, our boss (Rob) stayed with us every day, all the time. Eventually we got everything ready for the machines to arrive. That weekend Rob had arranged with his girl friend to take us out to a show; he was very pleased with us. It had taken us just six weeks to get everything ready, the machines were in place and the girls were starting the following week.
Now our job was to make sure that the mechanic set up each machine for all the different component parts. Then we would check the parts against the Blueprints and then measure everything to make sure it was exactly right. Some of the parts were allowed to be plus or minus about to 1000th parts of an inch. This was very important! It was our job to check each part, if we were satisfied, I could put my stamp on the machines work-card.
We had a line of eight machines checking to see if the measurement on the parts were correct. If so, that was great! If, however, it didn't measure up we would have to stop the machine and get the mechanic to set it up again, then we inspect the part, checking the measurements making sure they were all correct before "stamping" the machine work-card. This was a very important job as the small parts went into the making of Aircraft Carburetors. I really enjoyed this job and I was hoping to stay there to the end of war.
The girls would then run the machines and turn out thousands of these little parts. If they had a breakdown the same procedure would have to be taken. We would be walking up and down the line of eight machines checking to see if the measurement on the parts were correct. If so, that was great! If however, it didn't measure up correctly, again I would stop the machine, whilst the mechanic put it right. After a few months of producing, we were now ready to start an Inspection Department.
Robert Boardman, the chief Inspector, who was our boss, also the manager, called me into his office to ask me to do a special job for him. "Would I like to take charge of the twenty or more girls that would be working in the Inspection Room?" This meant a lot more responsibility for me, believe me, as I was also expected to do my new regular job as well. I was promoted to Assistant Manger. I was always picked to be a "leader." This was my "position" in God's eyes. I said earlier that our good Lord God has guided me all my life to better things, and this was one more time believe me. This was my' "position" in God's eyes. I said earlier that our good Lord God has guided me throughout my life, and this is another time He did, believe me there is a lot more to come. Remember I did not have the education in my school days, as they do today.
I can do all things through Jesus Christ Who strength me
On my first holiday (Whitsun) I went home to Crynant in Wales. Edith had decided to come back home to live with her Mom and she was there when I went home on holiday. It was during that summer that I decided to buy Edith an engagement ring. We also made arrangements to be married the next year and we decided we would have a September wedding. I went back to Knighton, and Edith started to make all the arrangements for a Register Office Wedding, as we could not afford a big one. Our parents did not have the money to spend on a big wedding either. When I got back to work I told my boss, he was very pleased for me.
While I was working, Reg and I used to go out together. The landlord of that hotel we stayed at, had a daughter, Betty, who was working with me in the Inspection Deptment. I did not know who she was at the time she started. She soon let me know and we became very good friends. I told her that I had a girlfriend Edith, and that Edith and I were going to be married. Betty said she understood. She had a car and at the weekend she drove us to the next village to go dancing. Reg and his girl friend, Betty and I, all went together. Reg was not married and going with his girl friend, so we made a good foursome and that happened a few months, and Betty was a very nice girl, I liked being with her as she understood my life.
One day Rob asked me if I would accompany him with the woman he had met. He was not married, and his girl friend was divorced, but she had a daughter, Judy, 17 years old. They wanted to go dancing. She had to take her daughter with them, and he wanted me to keep her company. I did go and we had a nice night. When I met her, I knew she was working with me in the Inspection Department. I didn't know then that she was in love with me. After a few weeks of accompanying her with her mother she upset a lot of the girl as on the Monday after a few weeks going dancing. Judy was telling all the girls that I was going out with her and I had told her I loved her - that was not true!
Then I had trouble with the other girls. Too many of them must have liked me. I kept her "company" for the next two weekends at the dance with Rob and her mother before I realized this. But then I had to tell Rob about all the commotion it was causing at work. He eventually found her a job in his office and I was happy to get rid of her. They were all told that I had a girl friend from my school days and a lot knew that, and when we had a little upset they all said it was their own fault.
I did tell Edith about the episodes I had with the girls. It didn't seem to bother her. By then there was nine months to go to our wedding, and I told everyone I was getting married on September 1st 1941. As you can imagine, it upset some of the girls. And several of them didn't talk to me again. Still there was some who did, as I had told them from the beginning I was engaged to Edith and was getting married. Some said it was their own fault, but they were still upset, and so was I. But I had nothing to hide, and that's the truth. I was still very popular with everyone else. And still friends with Betty. I would like to say that if I did not have Edith in my life it would have been Betty that I liked best, but Betty and I knew how I felt, she was a very nice girl, believe me and still we went out dancing with Reg and his girlfriend. Edith knew all about that episode I had with Judy, and all the others were very friendly with Edith all the time we worked there.
It was getting close to me getting married. And now in the last week, I did not know that they had a party organized for me. It was arranged for the last weekend in August. The three girls, who were ''sore losers" and not speaking to me, did not come to the party. Those who came had a grand time. When I got married in September that year, I asked Rob if he would give Edith a job. "It was no problem," he said. So we ended up all working together.
I went home to get married! It was a big day for us. Edith looked so beautiful in her new light blue suit and I had on my best pinstriped one. We had a lovely party with all our friends and relatives at my Mother's home. After all this waiting, we were in high spirits believe me. Actually, we were both nervous, but aren't we all? Certainly a week of memories that will last us a lifetime!
I came back to work the following weekend just as I had promised my boss. I went in to the office to work on the Monday morning and Edith was with me. It was so great to be able to keep Edith with me. Nobody, except Judy, knew she was coming to work there, and the boss had told Judy to be nice to Edith. That didn't come to anything, because the three girls ignored Edith (of course, she was now my wife) but she knew that they were talking about her. Still she soon made friends with other girls. And all the other girls in my department eventually got over the problem, and Edith made a good friend with Mary who worked with her in my department.
At that time, we were in the "digs" with Mrs. Roberts; she lived right at the top of the hill by the clock tower. It was a very steep hill, and there was no way any one with a car could get up there, we didn't have a car so we had to walk up and down. It was quite hard going. If anyone had a car the only way they could get straight to the top of the clock tower would have to drive around to the back way. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts put us up only until we could find other accommodation, as they didn't have a lot of room in their home. It wasn't long before we found another place with two more very nice people. We got very friendly with one young couple, Mary and Ted. Mary worked with Edith in my department, and Ted worked on the machines. The four of us used to go dancing, and on odd occasions Reg and his girl would join us. We had such a nice time with them. This went on for some time and eventually continued until I had to leave to join the services. I thought then this was the worse time of my life having to leave all our friends and all the nice weekends we were having. This was one of those times when God was still in my life and guiding me to better things, still, I did not realize at that time how our Lord in Heaven looked after me every day.
In those days there wasn't a bus service, as such, but a little private bus from the next village (Presteign) used to bring people that lived there to work at the factory. The driver knew Mary and Ted, who lived in the next village, and Mary asked him if he knew of a place for us. He said he would ask his sister-in-law that night. He would let us know in the morning. In the morning, he said we could go over with him that night and get something fixed up, and he would help to move us in that weekend. We went over with him in the bus, and he brought us back by car. We soon found how the Lord was still guiding me to meet such nice wonderful people they turned out to be.
It was a very big house, actually, it was called the "White House." and Mr. and Mrs. Davis (Fred and Joan) were lovely people. They had been married for a few years. Apparently they had been trying to have a baby, but hadn't had any luck. We moved in on the weekend, and stayed with them until I was eventually called up for National Service. We really enjoyed the time we spent with them, and went out together quite often. We still went out with Ted and Mary dancing, we were having some happy times and altogether we had over twelve months living with Mr and Mrs Davis in Presteign. I want to come back to this subject later after the end of the 1939 war.
Knighton to Presteign was about 8 miles. We went back and forth to work, come rain, hail, snow, in the little bus. We never missed work for any reason. In the summer the driver took us on llittle trips on Sundays. Providing we were not working the following Monday. It was around Christmas time when we went to Aunty Edith's home in Halifax where Edith used to work. It must have been around that time our child was conceived. We didn't know how it happened, we didn't know much about sex in those days.
After two months, we told Joan (Mrs. Davis). She was delighted for us. She looked after Edith, and did lots of knitting for the baby. Our weekends then had to stop. Edith and I were really looking forward to this part of our lives. A baby. This would make a big difference in all our future decisions. Having a baby was an important step in our marriage, even when it wasn't planned. We had decided to have children in a couple of years anyway.
When March 1942 came round, I got some news that wasn't very pleasant. My boss had got a letter from the National Service to tell him that they were giving him six months to train a girl to take over my job. He immediately wrote back to say that it would take twelve months to train someone, because it was an important job. He implied that he needed me. However, they still said six month and that was that. We knew for sure now that I was going to be called up, so we had to make the best of it. My calling up date was the last week in November 1942. I was glad that I would be home when our child was due to be born. When we told Joan and Fred that I was going to be called up, they were very upset indeed. She kept saying how sorry she was, and wanted Edith to have the baby at her home while I was away. Edith wanted to be with her Mom.
They came to interview each of us that were being called up, (eight of us.) to see which service we wanted to join. They came in July, when my turn came, there were four men there. They said they noticed that I had worked in the coal-mines. I told them I had, and they said, "Would you like to go back in the mines, because it is an important job." They needed all the miners they could get. I certainly did not want to go back down in the mines. I told them I'm already in an important job, then they said that if they so chose, they could make me go back to the mines. They did not like my answer when I told them that I had a green card and a letter from my doctor saying that I could not work in the mines again. I got the doctor's letter out to show them. And they asked why I hadn't mentioned it before. My reply was that I didn't think it would be necessary. I had kept that "up my sleeve" in case I needed it. That finished the conversation. When I finished and went back to my job I told Rob that they tried to make me go back to the coal-mines. I told Rob, he should have seen their faces when I showed them my green card.
Because of my experience with precision instruments, they asked me if I would like to go into the Fleet Air Arm, and that is just what I did. I got the date of my posting in the mail shortly afterwards. I was given the six months to train a girl for my job. I started training a girt just after my manager received a letter from them, which would have taken me to the end of October. My boss was very please with the way I had trained Marlene and just said, "leave her for a few weeks, just keep an eye on her and see how she gets on, tell her if she is not sure of anything to come to you." I was in the office with the boss for the rest of my time.
Edith and I had a long talk about things as we were expecting the baby to be born around September so we decided to ask my boss that if I got the girl trained, and did well by the end of July, would he let me go. He was very good and said that wouldn't be a problem. And when he was so pleased with the training I did with that girl, he even paid me up to the end of October. And he told me I could leave at the end of July. That would give me three month at home with Edith, and our baby should be born before I left to go to the service. We were very pleased about that as I could see her settled in. Now just look and read how our Lord God was guiding all those nice people into my life, and I have lots more to come.
We had a big party the week before the holiday and had lots of fun that night. Even the three girls who had fallen out with me came to wish me all the best. They all knew that Edith was expecting a baby. Joan and Fred were very upset, they would not come to our party, they were too upset, but we promised we would visit them when the war was over. We had some very nice weekends with them and the last weekend was very sad for all of us. They drove us to the railway station, and saw us off. We were headed back to Crynant in Wales. Our eyes were full of tears when we said our goodbyes to Joan and Fred at the station.
Now, remember I told you I would tell you a little something about the Davis couple. After we left, Mrs. Davis had a baby girl. I told you they had been trying for a few years to have a baby, well they finally got one. When we finally got to visit them in 1947, after the war, their little girl was nearly five. Mrs. Davis said it was because she had been doing lots of things for Edith that something happened to her body, which made it easier for her to have a child. I couldn't believe it, but Edith said "yes" that it could happen. We were so pleased for Joan and Fred and their nice little girl.
TO BE CONTINUED