War Effort & Entertainments

RAF flypast over celebrations in the Market Place, possibly War Weapons Week April 1941

Our local newspapers contain many reports and advertisements for fund raising events in the town throughout the war.  The events were dual purpose as they also boosted morale by providing entertainment and the opportunity to socialise during these difficult times. Examples include Whist Drive for Prisoners of War Fund and Barn Dance for Tobacco Fund.

This extract from Horncastle News of September 28th 1941 is a good example.



Horncastle and District Spitfire Fund grows quickly, Although it has only been officially in being for a week, a sum of nearly £250 has already been subscribed in donations from various ladies and gentlemen from the Villages and from several events which have already been held.

A list of this week’s subscriptions is given below, and is headed by a handsome

donation of £2S from Mr. Frank Dixon, of Horncastle. Other sums, varying from £5 down to 1s have been received from residents and tradesmen all helping to swell the Fund, which has made a splendid start.


Included In this week’s list is a wonderful donation of £76 8s  6d. from the residents of Tumby  and Moorhouses, per Mr. Parker. The residents of these two small villages are to be congratulated on their splendid gift to the Fund. They have set an example which other villages in the district will surely desire to copy and try to beat. The sum of £78 was collected among the residents of Tumby and Moorhouses, and it reflects highly on the splendid patriotic spirt and generosity, in these hard times, of the farm workers of the two  villages. Well, done, Tumby and Moorhouses! But we know you will be delighted if other villages beat you.


Numerous social events-dances, whist drives etc. have already been arranged in Horncastle and the surrounding villages to raise money for the Spitfire Fund and success for all these splendid efforts is assured judging by the remarkable enthusiasm with which the Fund has been received everywhere.

In Horncastle, the ladies held another football match on Wednesday for the Fund, and a is being held at the Bull Hotel tonight (Friday)

The suggestion that the Darts League might be revived among the licensed houses in the town in aid of the Fund has been favourably received. We hope to see the League soon started.

A variety concert ls to be given in Horncastle Cinema on Sunday, September 29th.

Another pleasing donation is one of £1 6s 6d, from the school children of Baumber and Great Sturton, per the head mistress (Miss Rylatt)  .The  children made a collection among themselves, and a splendid sum of £1.6s.6d. was the result. Well done, the children!


At Horncastle  Stock Market next Thursday a Special sale will be held in aid of the Spitfire Fund when animals generously given by stock breeders in the District will be offered by auction, and the whole of the proceeds given to the Fund.

Already, Miss Bower, of Horncastle, has given an eleven-week, pure-bred large white gilt, and Mr. J B. Haggas, of Ranby, is sending a pure bred Essex sow.

The auctioneers. Messrs. Parish, Stafford Walter and Bell and J E Walter and Sons, will appreciate further gifts and entries for the Spitfire Fund sale and are confident that bidding will be free for the animals offered.


Naturally individual donations from everybody will be welcomed. and already many townspeople and residents in the  village have set a splendid example,  by sending various amounts to the Treasurer (Mr, W. Holmes), at the Horncastle Savings Bank. Some have already sent in a second donation.

Again we would emphasise that no matter how small the sum may be that you can afford- threepence,  sixpence or a few shillings your donation will be as equally welcome as the larger donations of those more blessed with, the good things of life. There are those who can afford to give liberally- and we know they will- but there are many who can, perhaps only spare six pence or a shilling. Send It along, however small the sum may be that you can spare.

It is confidently hoped that every man and woman in Horncastle and the villages in the rural area will subscribe something individually towards our Spitfire for the R.A.F. as well as give their support to the various social events organised to raise money for the fund.

Programme for the Horncastle War Weapons Week in 1941

Earlier in APRIL 1941 Woodhall Spa and Horncastle had joined together to attempt to raise £35,000 in National Savings for WAR WEAPONS WEEK and at the end of the first day had raised £16,000.

If the programme above is anything to go by, they would have had no trouble reaching their target:

In MARCH 1942 Horncastle held a Warship Week with a similarly packed scheduled of festivities. Following a year of continued campaigning the town adopted the corvette HMS Herald. There was an exchange of plaques, with Rear Admiral F. A. Buckley presenting a plaque from the ship to the town. A plaque representing Horncastle was exchanged in return to be fitted to the vessel, wishing it a safe voyage in its work protecting covoys.

In MAY 1943 Horncastle, together with Woodhall Spa again achieved amazing fundraising results by raising £88,000 for the WINGS FOR VICTORY FUND after a week of hectic work. The target had been set high at £85,000 but when the final total was read out in the Market Square by Field Marshall Sir Archibald Montgomery Massingberd, it was met by huge cheers from the crowd.

These amounts are amazing even by modern standards and shows the support and enthusiasm for the war effort.

Wartime Childhood

In 2013 young people from Horncastle Community Primary School interviewed older residents about their experiences growing up in Horncastle during the Second World War.

Video made by the Young Journalists Academy at Horncastle Community Primary School in 2013.

Whilst preparing for this exhibition, Brian Lovely’s shared his memories of how children always made their own entertainment.

As a child he lived in Stourton Place, off Prospect Street. They had a shelter at the end of their long back garden, his father built. Remembers playing on the Grammar School fields and seeing Hampdens and Lancasters flying overhead. One time a Lancaster taking off at the RAF station at Bardney blew up, making the biggest bang he’d ever heard, reaching as far as Horncastle.

Another time two Junkers 88s, which were some of the best German bombers were shot down near Horncastle. Brian had a friend in the Royal Observer Corps at Baumber, and he told him where it came down. On a Mr Holt’s farm below the Caistor High Street on the right hand side of a track known as ‘Farmers Lane’. The next day Brian and a group of boys biked up to investigate and found the plane burnt out but still recognisable in the field. Whilst they were taking a look a couple of Polish Airmen arrived, “they shot more Germans down than anybody” Brian added, and they’d come to see the results. The boys asked “are they dead?” to which one of Polish officers responded “well I hope so!”

“Another game was to go down to the riffle range in the meadows south of the town. This was located down a lane off Boston Road opposite the cemetery, and the friends would go looking for bullets.” They never found any, and now he realises only tips would have made it this far. “It wasn’t dangerous as the troops would raise a red flag when they were using it, so you knew when not to go down there.”

In 2004 the Society recorded Roy Marshall’s memories of his wartime childhood, watching aircraft at East Kirkby, visiting crash sites and gang ‘warfare.

Part of an oral history recording of Roy Marshall, made by HHHS.

Other Entertainments

The Victory Cinema on the High Street. It closed in 1970 and was demolished to build a supermarket. Today the site is home to Lincolnshire Co-op

The Kinema at Woodhall Spa and the Victory Cinema in Horncastle provided a full programme of films and other entertainments during the War.

In 1941 you could see a version of the very popular ‘Band Wagon’ at the Kinema as well as ‘The Invisible Man Returns’.

In October 1941 The Victory Cinema provided a choice of 4 films including ‘The House at 7 Gables’.

Whilst at the Drill Hall (now Stanhope Hall) there were regular dances organised by various local clubs and societies, and to entertain the troops stationed in and around the town. Many of us would not be here today if our grandparents or parents had not first crossed eyes over that dance floor. Almost every wartime edition of the local papers saw the announcement of the marriage of another local girl to a soldier or airmen.

Crowd outside the Drill Hall, now Stanhope Hall, on Boston Road

The churches in the town did their part in provided healthy innocent fun and of course the Religious calendar provided for Harvest Festival events, Carol Services, and Palm Sunday and Easter events.

The Technical School was commencing its Winter programme in October 1941 with a choice of academic subjects as well as courses in Cookery, First Aid, & Physical Training.

Excitement was at it is height when Paulo’s Famous London Circus was due to arrive on The Wong on October 4th 1941.  This must surely have provided a huge relief from the miseries of the day.

There was a Bowling Drive with music at the Bowling Green for those who enjoyed a game.

The annual Flower and Vegetable Show took place in September 1939 at Queen Street Methodist Church.

There was an excursion of the LNER Railway to Skegness for the illuminations.

Hudson’s Buses organised a coach trip to see the Lincoln v Gateshead match

There was what must have been a lovely Sunday evening concert by the Town Band in Hammerton Gardens.

It is probably what has been a big difference in our present ‘WAR’ against the CORONAVIRUS. People have not been able to physically socialise, visit pubs, take trips, go to the cinema as they did in the war, but despite that, we have shown our need for fun and social contact and have used the internet to full advantage. However, even during our Great Wars, people have still manged to get married, get christened and go to church on Sundays. That is a massive difference.

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