The 1940’s in Pickering

Sunday Morning at 07.00hrs was a bit cold and gloomy so we got up at 07.30 instead. It was much better but still chilly, no I’m not a morning person as many a woman would tell you, in fact I am quite the little Neanderthal man grunting and mumbling the odd word. so the photo of me not smiling sat astride my pride and joy is why I just thought I’d explain that!

 Julie and I ate breakfast then got ourselves motivated. Once on the road I came alive as we stretched the old legs after passing through Thorne and onto the wide empty A19, we were on the A64 bypass at York in a flash and just in time to run along with some purring exotic’s. The one in front of us being a nice blue Reno Megane sport with a fat exhaust that howled louder and louder as he tried to put distance between us, he did in fact push on into the distance and pulled along a Nissan sporty thing and a silver something or other. It’s a car what do I know?

The turn off for Pickering came up and we slowly made our way for the last nine miles behind a couple of motorhomes and caravans, I don’t know why but they always seem to go so slow and clog up the road and there is always a convoy of frustrated drivers behind!..Oh don’t get me started!

Pickering hosts a 1940’s weekend every October, in fact I thing this year is was their nineteenth year. There are re-enacters dressed as military people, war workers (factory and on the land…Land Army girls) Many others were dressed in the everyday attire for the 1940’s. Military vehicles of all kind are here too as well as historic cars and motorbikes, even the shops in Pickering High Street get involved. The railway station is the centre piece for the weekend with its  original steam trains and the villages at the stops from Pickering to Whitby are in 1940’s regalia too.  Below is a link if you’d like to know more.

The day started with the military parade through the High St. It was also a great way to get all the vehicles and people in place from the various camps B+B’s and Pickering showground in particular.

The motorbike section came down the road as a gang, in the middle of them was a U.S sailor without his jacket, he must have been bloody cold, I guess they were well ard back then! I say that because despite it being 10.30 it was still quite chilly.

 We made out way down to the river and the resupply camp and saw these monsters by the pub, off to the side sat the tents and all the clutter of the supply base.

The table was full of U.S and English weapons from Webley pistol, 9mm Colts, Thompson sub machine guns, Bren guns Sten guns BAR automatic rifles. Hand grenades and other explosives were on display too. I surmise it was all deactivated, certainly hoped so anyway, it all looked very real. Also on display was a selection of tinned food called ration packs. The soldiers..I know they were just acting but from now on that’s how I’ll refer to them. The soldiers at the camp were more than happy to explain to visitors as to what was what. I was impressed at their knowledge about the guns the bullets and the bloody hard tack biscuits and condensed jam and milk.

He even opened a tin for us and took out a biscuit and took a bite “Obviously these biscuits are fresh and not from 1940!” We all laughed at this as did the Land Army girl standing nearby. I remember my brother bringing some biscuits home from the army back in the 1970’s and I couldn’t eat any of them, they were so hard I had to just suck on them ugh!, The jam was sooo sweet as was the condensed cream, vile stuff! Brother Mick brought it home for me to use on school camp which I did.. did for the first day only!

 American and British troops manned the camp. An American rocket launcher was on show too, this was the Bazooka. ( The name came from a US character whose long musical instrument was knicknames so) This was one of the first rocket launchers of its kind, back then the No 2 would insert the projectile in the back clip the electrical wires to it then tap the No 1’s helmet before ducking down out-of-the-way as he pressed the trigger and with a loud WHOOSH!  the rocket flew out towards its target. Those trapped motorists could have used this earlier to blast the crawling motorhomes to smithereens. “Dahling, just reach in the back for the bazooka and blow that infernal motor home off the road will you…Duck down in the back there please children whilst mummy clears the road ahead for Daddy!!!!”

WAAF’s! During WWII these girls really came into their own and did essential war work, some even became ferry pilots flying bombers and fighters from the factories to the airfields. After the war the name was changed to become the WRAF.

I think I would stroll down the middle of the main road if I carried a Bren gun wouldn’t you?He is portraying a member of the British parachute regiment…the famous “Red Devils”.. I bet he’s thinking “One doesnt need a pavement when one has a Bren gun”

He came by us and the girls just went “Eyes RIGHT!” We had met old friends for the day, you see we are all ex APPY WANDERERS and go back quite a way and shared some brilliant adventures. We have been friends since the first European tour in 2005. “They” later broke away and formed a splinter group and are now known as the T.W.I.T’s. We are bonded by the hell ride that was Bulgaria. There are many pieces of Goldwing motorbike scattered on the those shyte roads over there and we are not going back for them

This gentleman is portraying a “Spiv” These guys mostly evaded military service and did favours and collected favours nudge nudge wink wink if you know what I mean! They lived by their wits and charm and sold anything and everything..Just like Private Walker in the TV comedy Dads Army, do you  remember him? Below  is what Wikipedia has to say about “Spivs”

In the United Kingdom a spiv is a particular type of petty criminal who deals in illicit, typically black market goods of questionable authenticity, especially a slickly dressed man offering goods at bargain prices. The goods are generally not what they seem or have been obtained illegally. The word was particularly used during the Second World War and in the post-war rationing period.

Both Mr Churchill and General “Monty Montgomery came and gave a chat to our American cousins !

I don’t know what this wag said to the lovely lady but obviously it wasnt the right thing! There were stalls around Pickering this weekend selling 1940’s attire. I’m sure they were all reproduction stuff, surely it all wasnt originally from the 1940 period, surely it all wasnt over 60 years old?

We moved very slowly along our platform watching the people over on platform 2 in 1940.

       No short skirts no high heels no single moms and no tarts on platform 2 then!


Oh pure class! These working class women I thought were the best of the bunch on platform 2. My mum used to work in the munitions factories at Thorpe Arch near Wetherby in West Yorkshire. The women there worked in long isolated buildings making 40mm cannon shells, she used to tell me about the accidents and getting covered in yellow cordite al the time. It’s now on the site of a prison. She moved from there at some point to work on the production line in Horbury near Wakefield making trucks. In the evenings she used to work the bar in a pub. Hard workers they all were.

I’m very happy and proud to show you all a family photograph of my hard-working mum with my brother Bob probably in late 1945. She is wearing the same clothes as the actors today.

We moved outside to look at the vehicles and stalls. one jeep had a German helmet on a post. Again they encouraged folk to touch and get involved in things.

Lynne looked quite good in her biker kit with Urban camo look! Stephen on the other hand let his Polish side come out and really take the piss! He was seen doing this on the back of a trike on a roundabout deep in southern Germany. It was really funny! Considering what the Germans did to Poland in the 1940’s gives him every right to poke fun at them at every opportunity as far as I’m concerned so just Fook off you lot that think otherwise!

It was mainly the older people who dressed in style on these occasion, I only saw one or two young people. The older folk probably felt more connected with the period? I thought these two gentlemen looked very smart.

Every lady in period dress had on seamed stockings and looked very very nice. Stephen of course opened his mind and saw this bust in a different light to the rest of us!!

I thought this British despatch rider on his Matchless motorcycle looked just great.

The gentleman of the British Home Guard was posing for an official photographer from some Historic magazine, I simply stood at the side and took this shot. These guys where all that stood between England and Germany after Dunkirk in 1940. and whilst the like of Dad Army is really funny it shouldn’t detract the enormity of the job in hand. Thankfully the RAF put a stop to Nazi Germany’s intentions and they looked elsewhere for an easy mugging…Russia for example… and look where that got them!

Below is a photo of a soldier of the Dutch army in the late 1940’s, hence the orange scarf. After they were invaded the Dutch along with large numbers of French Belgian Danish men and a smattering of other invaded nationals made their way to England to fight the common enemy


Walking back up the high St we bumped into a Headmaster who caned Lynne, silly girl admitted she hadn’t done her homework! Unfortunately I didn’t see it to photograph. A Land Army girl steps out with her soldier husband. The last photo is pure fantasy! There is no way on earth the WAFF girl would walk out with her Nazi Panzer officer no matter how smart he looked! 

A complete contrast with the hard looking trooper from the famous U.S 101st “Screamin Eagles” Parachute Regiment and an English businessman. Parked here and there to set the scene was the civilian vehicles. A car of the day with Union Jack buntings in the background.

An old Norton motorbike stops us in our tracks. John probably remembers these things for real. Personally I can remember cleaning my mates brothers Triton motorbike back in the 1970’s I knocked up my fingernails cleaning between the wheel spokes, it was a beauty! He emigrated after the miners strike of 1984 to Australia and we lost touch.

Stephen John and Lynne actually own Honda Goldwing trikes but probably wished they had been on old trailie type motorbikes in Bulgaria instead!!

We moved out-of-the-way as PM Mr Churchill came down the road with his lady wife, later to become Lady Spencer I believe. The RAF officer came the other way with his officer wife of the Royal Navy. Meanwhile a tired RAF pilot pulls pensively on a Woodbine, note his nicotine brown fingers!

 A gent from the gentry makes his way through the trying hard to keep out of way..being a lowly northerner and all that! Even the dogs got a look in this weekend, A lovely little boy stands with his Scottish master, whilst two raggy ass mutts step out with their British “Tommy” owner.

There is always time for a drink for this “Spiv” his munitions worker wife and her sister.

A Yank with his land army girl  chat with a British tank soldier from the Royal Armoured Corps. Nearby sits a demure lady with fox fur, she waits for her French officer friend.

As you know I’m a big fan of the opportunist snapshot..that great candid photo. Well I saw the land army girl and her Spiv boyfriend shaping up for a self-portrait and I couldn’t resist getting in on the act!

What a great day we had in Pickering with friends, even Roland and Mary joined us for a coffee, yes they too are ex APPY WANDERERS but have now sold their bike due to bad knees and hips…it gets to us all eventually you know! We said goodbye to our friends and walked back to our bike at the WRVS clubhouse, they kindly let us park there, we repaid in kind and ordered eight teas and eight bacon “sarnis” Yes dearer than a parking ticket but much more enjoyable! On the walk back we came upon a distressing scene, the fire engine sat there with blue lights flashing, four firemen were in the river. RAF officers, Army generals American Majors and Navy personnel British “Tommy’s” and Land Army girls looked on silently…….



Little yellow ducks with numbers on their bums? Plastic ducks…hundreds of them!

Scooping the escaping ducklings with whatever came to hand, in this case a Tesco shopping trolley and a yellow traffic cone. We didn’t know if this was A) a publicity stunt B) a wind up C) An exercise D)For real. I certainly wasn’t going to be the silly bugger to shout “Oi mate what are you doing then?” We rode back down the A64 with  the lasting image of a  hundred yellow plastic duck floating down the river?!?




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