Wartime Farm (2012) s01e03 Episode Script

Episode 3

1 The great British countryside.
The setting for one of the most pivotal battles of the Second World War.
Churchill called it the "frontline of freedom".
It was a battle fought by the farmers of Britain.
When war broke out, two-thirds of all Britain's food was imported.
Now it fell under threat from a Nazi blockade.
The government turned to farmers to double home-grown food production.
The plough had become a weapon of war.
It was the farmers' principal weapon of war.
If they failed, Britain could be starved into submission.
Now archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman are turning the clock back to the 1940s.
Over the next year, they're running Manor Farm in Hampshire as it would have been during the Second World War.
Yes! This time, the team approach 1940, when Britain's cities were bombed by the Nazis in the Blitz.
They'll experience how the countryside defended and protected the cities One at 8,000.
revived old crafts to prepare for the biggest evacuation in history.
Peter, what are you doing? Chop and cut! Come on, keep up with the clay! And celebrate the first Christmas on rations.
Put it all to the back of your mind and have what fun while you can.
- The King.
- The King.
This is the untold story of the countryside at war.
By November 1940, Britain had been at war for 14 months.
Under the watchful eye of war agricultural executive committees, farmers had grown over two million extra acres of crops in a drive to double home-grown food production.
But Britain faced an unprecedented onslaught.
In the summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain saw the German Air Force attempt to destroy the RAF in preparation for a full invasion.
They failed.
And Prime Minister Winston Churchill saluted the courage of its pilots as a turning point in the war.
The gratitude of every home in our island goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion.
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
But the bombing of Britain's cities and ports would continue.
The Blitz killed some 40,000 civilians.
That first wave of bombing.
It was aimed not just at London but also at the port towns along the South Coast.
Portsmouth and Southampton came in for a hammering, night after night after night.
And there was no underground to shelter in if you were in Southampton.
Huge numbers of the population actually slept in the fields.
Arial bombardment was a terrifying concept, endangering civilians in Britain's cities as never before.
Over three million women and children were moved to the safety of the countryside - the largest evacuation of people in Britain's history.
Farms, with their many outbuildings, were expected to accommodate as many people as possible.
It's not the best candidate.
And that thing there is just too big to even consider heating.
Alex and Peter are checking Manor Farm's barns for potential places to accommodate evacuees.
- This is another candidate.
- Yeah.
There are a few holes on that roof, though.
That's actually quite significant.
There's one, two, three There's four holes on this side.
To make room for evacuees here, they must make urgent repairs to the roofs of the barns.
We just haven't got anywhere near enough beds if we've got all these people coming.
So I'm just gonna have to knock something up quick.
They're gonna have to be pretty crude.
With imports restricted and factories switching production to weapons, in 1940, everything was in short supply, including furniture.
Word was, all these townspeople were on their way.
They had nowhere else to go, they were being bombed out of their own homes.
The country suddenly had to absorb huge numbers of extra people.
So how do you do it? Where do you find the facilities, where do you find the beds? Where do you find the bedding, where do you find the food, the pots and pans? And it all had to be done so fast.
Up and down the countryside, villages of all sorts were busily gathering together everything they could, to accommodate this influx of really rather desperate people.
Well it'll do as an emergency bed, won't it? Building materials too were in short supply.
Bombing destroyed thousands of factories and houses, all of which needed to be repaired.
Brick and tile factories couldn't keep up with demand, so people in the countryside revived old crafts to produce them.
- Good afternoon, gentlemen.
- Afternoon, lads.
It'd be nice if you've come ready for work.
- And a picnic.
- Oh, right.
Just the weather.
Alex and Peter need roof tiles to repair the barns for evacuees.
So they're calling on experts in traditional crafts, Colin Richards and Mick Crouper.
What is it? It's a tile-making machine.
That is quite something! It hasn't seen action for a long time.
So we're recommissioning it.
You can't buy these any more and this is a bit of a beast.
You put clay in one end and, in theory, you get tiles out of the other.
How many do you need? Probably a few hundred.
Into the hundreds, definitely.
So we need to get busy, then.
The first job is to soften the clay from which the tiles will be made.
Dance, man! Yeah, this needs to be pliable, otherwise there's no hope of this going through the machine.
Let's get it all in.
- All in? - Yeah.
Good lad.
Squeezing the clay through the slot requires a great deal of power.
Colin is hoping the petrol engine is up to the task.
- Ready? - I'm ready when you are, boys.
When you're in gear.
Currently it's bringing the ram up to the clay in the box.
Steady pressure, boys.
Peter's been handed the vital job of cutting the moulded clay into individual tiles.
Peter, what are you doing? You're on piecework, Peter.
Chop and cut.
Come on, keep up with the clay.
Peter needs to raise his game at the moment.
Whoa! - There we go.
- Cut.
And cut.
So how many did we get out of that run, Peter? One, two I reckon three, actually.
297 tiles to make.
Head down and let's get on with it.
Enough natter.
Here we go.
Look at that.
Keep cutting, Peter! After a bomb attack, bricks often remained intact, so could be reused.
Tiles, on the other hand, easily shattered, so new ones were in great demand.
The war distorted everything.
With the damage in the big cities, the brick works and tile works were working overtime.
There wasn't any spare capacity.
It was a case of make do and mend, going back to basics.
If you had the knowledge and the skill to make tiles, this is what you'd do.
Few had produced tiles this way since before the First World War.
During the war, imports of cotton and linen were severely restricted.
So bedding was in short supply.
Ruth's following government advice and recycling old fabric to make patchwork quilts for the evacuees.
I've been making these little pockets every now and again when I've got a little bit of time.
I've been making these little pockets.
I just run them up on the machine and then stuff them full of feathers.
The bags are made from scraps of material, known as ticking.
Ticking is just a really tightly woven cotton.
It has to be tightly woven, otherwise the feathers work their way out.
The end of a feather is really quite pointy, and on ordinary fabric, if it was just like, say, apron fabric, you can push it straight through.
So that would be really uncomfortable and gradually the feathers would work their way out.
So old mattress covers, old pillows, they all are covered in ticking.
Great for making quilts.
So, then Oh, I've got my thimble and I've got my needle.
I'll just sew each bag up.
And this is sort of part of this British patchwork tradition, the idea of making, you know, stuffed pockets, great huge, fat, stuffed, crude pockets, which I'm gonna sew together into something Well, I think, perhaps to a modern eye, it would look more like a duvet than anything else.
But this is about warmth.
It's amazing how quick it grows.
Five-and-a-half bricks, and then everything's square to start off with.
To harden the tiles, they must be fired in a kiln.
But with no access to industrial kilns, during the war, temporary ones were built, using whatever materials were to hand.
Have we got many more to go? No, this is the last layer.
What sort of temperature are we looking for here? We're gonna need to get up to about 900.
- 900 degrees? - Yeah.
- That's gonna be really difficult, isn't it? - It is in these conditions.
There's quite a challenge ahead of us really.
In these freezing November conditions, maintaining a constant temperature of 900 degrees requires some clever engineering.
We've got to create four little chimneys.
We need to get the heat all the way round the perimeter of the kiln.
As we move from one corner to another, we can suck the heat across the stack, so the heat is drawn to these four corners.
Tea's up, guys.
Very kind, thank you.
You've got to the stage your kiln's basically complete.
But everything's very damp and we need to dry that out slowly over a couple of hours.
If we drive the heat up too quickly, it's just gonna burst them tiles.
The kiln must burn for two days and two nights.
This will require over a ton of firewood, gathered from the forest.
To help them cut it up, Alex and Peter have dusted off the farm's 1940s power saw.
It looks extremely dangerous, Peter.
What is it, the Avon power saw? - Have you ever heard of Avon power tools? - No.
It's not that company that went into prosthetic limbs, is it? I hate starting these things.
Nearly, nearly.
It wants to go, doesn't it? It wants to kick into life.
Yes! Yes! Can you use it now? One, two, three - Are you ready? - Into gear.
Nothing's moving too much, is it? Ruth's make-do-and-mend quilts for the evacuees are taking shape.
So these four, and I've done them together there, will fit into that gap.
To be honest, I'm having to resist making it overly pretty.
There is a sort of temptation to slow down and start doing beautiful things, make it look gorgeous.
I mean, even a couple of stitches made in a little pattern here, and you'd start to not only hold the feathers in place, but it'd improve the look enormously.
Is it nice and warm under there? OK, chaps, looks like grub's up.
It wasn't just women and children who were relocated to the countryside during the war.
So was 20-year-old Don Sutherland.
But Don wasn't an evacuee.
He was conscripted into farm labour by the government, because, like 61,000 men and women, he refused to fight.
I decided to register as a conscientious objector when the call-up came.
I objected on religious grounds.
It was a very difficult decision to make.
I've always believed that you love your enemies.
You don't kill them.
You don't try and hurt them.
That must have been a very difficult time of your life.
It was difficult.
You can only speak the truth and say that you didn't you couldn't do it yourself.
I couldn't do it.
I couldn't go out and kill people and that's what war's about.
Were there problems trying to convince the authorities as to why you felt you needed to object? Well, the usual question was, "What would you do if a German did such-and-such a thing to your daughter or your sister or your mother?" that sort of thing.
But I don't think those questions are really sensible questions to ask.
One does not know what one would do in an emergency.
I only know there are better ways of doing it than that.
Some 5,000 conscientious objectors were imprisoned.
But Don was one of the lucky ones, spending the rest of the war as a farm labourer.
So you were threshing out? And that's the middle of winter.
That must have been cold there.
Yes, it was.
And that's one of myself.
- That's the sugar beet? - A cartload of sugar beet.
You know, I was an office worker.
I'd worked in an office for seven years.
So it was completely new to me to work with my hands.
But I think it's good for any young man to do that, really.
Oh, yeah, absolutely.
The work you did in the fields, bringing in these harvests did you feel, even inadvertently, that this was part of the war effort and that you were, in some way, doing your bit towards supporting Britain at that time? Indirectly, I suppose you are, really.
I don't deny the men going out there were making a much bigger sacrifice than I was.
Yeah, yeah.
I must admit that.
But it's what they were having to do that I disagreed with, you see.
It was always accepted that you fight and that's it, without realising what war's like.
Oh, here you are.
- Let me take that.
- Thank you.
This is Daisy, is it? Hello, Daisy.
By December 1940, the bombing of Southampton and Portsmouth had reached a new intensity.
Thousands more evacuees flooded from the cities to the countryside.
I'm a bit nervous.
Put my best coat on, make a good impression.
I don't know who we're getting.
Children under five were accompanied by their mothers.
Hello! Welcome to Manor Farm.
Who've we got here, then? We've got Ernest and Maureen.
- Welcome to my home.
- Thank you very much.
Someone who remembers evacuees arriving here over 70 years ago is Betty Rudd.
I found these mothers and these children.
They were weeping and they were in a terrible state.
The children were crying and feeling miserable.
"Why can't we go home, Mummy?" You know.
"Why do we have to stay here, Mummy?" It was really very tough.
And that was my first experience, actually, of evacuees.
The government assigned billeting officers in every village to find accommodation for the evacuees.
Betty's father was the officer for the area around Manor Farm.
Yes, my father's here in this long overcoat.
Yeah? There were an extraordinary amount of people there with big houses.
Old-time gentry, they didn't want to know at all.
The people with the butlers.
We had a fight.
- They thought they were above it? - Yes.
My father just marched in and that was it.
And the people who were being billeted out in the countryside were not countryside people.
- They were townies with different ways.
- That was the problem.
They wouldn't eat their greens.
They wanted fish and chips.
And we encouraged them to actually grow vegetables, a lot of these children, and they did.
They were quite interested in that.
It is one of the things about the war.
All sorts of different groups of people had to learn about each other.
They did.
Town people had to learn about the countryside, country people had to learn about town people.
Their life would never be the same again, would it? It certainly wouldn't.
There you go.
Getting mud on your boots.
Many evacuated children were put to work, helping farmers to meet the government's demands of doubling food production.
You don't get men like this in Portsmouth, do you? For children from the cities, the countryside was full of new encounters.
Many had never seen a chicken, cow or pig before.
- She's a big pig, isn't she? - Yeah, she's fat.
Not as cute as the others, though.
She's not, is she? She's big and scary.
To make room for more evacuees, the boys are making roof tiles to repair outbuildings.
They've been firing for 24 hours.
But the windy conditions are causing unexpected problems.
We had sort of gale force winds.
We've tried to slow it down, but what's happened is, we've almost got a blast furnace.
All that heat has expanded the kiln, and so we've needed to restrain it, otherwise it would have collapsed, and we'd have lost all that effort, broken our tiles.
It would've been disaster.
I suppose the flames aren't coming up any more, so we need to get more wood on the fire.
It's died down a bit and you need to keep that heat going through.
You can't let the temperature drop when we get to the critical stages.
Get some of these right to the back of the furnace.
It's almost like a sleeping dragon.
As soon as you stoke it up, then the fire leaps out of the kiln.
Tending kilns in all conditions, night and day, is tough work.
But Colin's heard stories of how tile makers made the job a little bit more bearable.
I thought we might try and rig ourselves up a still - we've got apples - and distil some local hooch.
What do you think? I think that sounds like a good idea.
You're talking about using this to distil alcohol? Yeah.
The reason I know about this is, my uncle did this during the war.
He worked at a brick and tile works.
You know, the heat was used for cooking any game they caught, and for making liquor, really.
The question is, though, Colin, is it legal? If we sort of treat it as medicinal, then I think we might be able to get away with it as long as we don't sell it.
A little drop of medicine to soothe the aches and pains.
Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water.
So when this fermented apple juice is heated, the alcohol in it evaporates first and can be collected.
Put it on the heat now.
Colin's improvised a distillation plant from a bike inner tube a water bottle and a saucepan.
So we fix that to that.
That's worked well.
Because we're joining metal to metal, the inner tube acts like a gasket.
What we're gonna do now is use the heat from the kiln to slowly sort of boil the mash that's in there.
With the water bottle, that's gonna act as our first condensing chamber.
The alcohol should come down the pipe, and because it's so cold, this should condense out.
So what we get in here, the drips, is going to be our distilled alcohol.
I know Peter's got his tongue hanging out at the moment.
There's already condensation in that bottle.
I don't blame her, sat all indoors.
- She looks lovely.
- Come on, my lovely! Come on, Snowflake.
The government's drive to double food production meant farmers had to reduce their livestock in favour of growing crops.
Crops produce considerably more calories per acre than livestock.
With meat becoming scarce, the government encouraged people to set up pig clubs.
Raised communally on kitchen scraps, half the meat went to the government, with the rest divided up between the members.
- Good girl.
- Come on, Snowflake.
Their piglet, Shorty, is coming on well.
But Ruth and fellow pig club member, Debbie Underwood, want to breed a replacement for when the time comes to slaughter him.
I've got another treat waiting for you.
So she's taking his mother, Snowflake, to spend some time with local boar Douglas.
- There's a good girl.
- Come on, Snowflake.
Does she go straight in with Douglas, or does she have a few days separate from the piglet before she's introduced? She's coming to season three days after she's been weaned from her piglets.
So we'll put her in now.
All his hormones will encourage her that in three days' time, she will come into season.
- Come on, Snowflake.
- Off we go, come on.
Good girl.
But things are not going to plan.
Somehow, Shorty has escaped to follow his mother.
How on earth did you get out, Shorty? We'll have to find where they're escaping from.
Otherwise they'll just follow her out to the boar.
The gate's still closed.
There's a hole in the wire, look at that.
Before we take her to the boar, we have to fix that.
Otherwise, Shorty will be straight out of there.
Always the way.
Actually, we might be lucky.
Yes! Well done, that woman! Right.
- There we go.
- Speedy, speedy, speedy.
Right, that's Douglas.
Him with the hairy chops.
Here he is.
Hello, gorgeous boy.
Yeah, this is Douglas.
He loves a back scratch.
He's only served about three sows so far.
Hopefully, many happy years ahead of him.
There we go.
They look like they're having fun together, don't they? It's the final night tending the tile kiln, and the home-made still has produced a tonic to help the team cope with the cold.
We're on our sixth bottle at the moment.
It's really sort of taken off.
I think, you know, to toast the kiln, we ought to have a little snifter.
Right, OK.
That looks clear enough.
- It certainly does.
- Lovely.
- Thank you very much.
- That's very pleasant.
- I find this medicinal, actually.
- Yeah, absolutely.
It's not long before Colin's tonic is making the hard graft altogether more appealing.
Thanks, you guys, for a fantastic experience.
Fantastic kiln.
They must endure just one more freezing night tending the tiles at the kiln.
- To the kiln! - To the kiln! Whoa! Although the government encouraged farmers to cull livestock in favour of growing crops, they made one exception.
Come on, girls.
Dairy cattle.
Time we got you indoors, you know.
Milk was seen as essential to the health of the nation, particularly for children.
With cold weather on the way, the farm's precious dairy cattle must be taken indoors.
The government set strict targets for milk production that dairy farmers had to meet.
So keeping the cattle in top condition was paramount.
It's not just about keeping the cows fit and healthy, though obviously that's important.
It's also about the quality of the milk.
And we have got to keep the quality and the quota, the quantity, up right through the winter.
That's really important.
Come on, you know the way.
Over winter, the cattle will be fed silage - fermented vegetation made by Alex and Peter.
Go on, then, on you go.
Good girls.
Sarah, move.
I'm always amazed how much you can taste what a cow's been eating in the milk.
Yes, there's a definite difference, isn't there? Another reason we need to look after them is they're all in calf.
They're all due next spring so we want to take good care of them.
- She looks like she's got twins.
- She's huge, isn't she? After two days of firing, the kiln is left to cool.
And the tiles to repair the barns for evacuees should be ready.
An awful lot of work has gone into making this kiln and firing these tiles and making the tiles.
We've no idea what the results are.
One false move with a brick, Colin slips and it lands on the tiles, we could smash a whole load of them.
Colin's concerned the harsh winter conditions may have affected the firing of the tiles.
What we're looking for is a ring like a bell.
- Sounds like magic.
- That sounds good.
- That is superb.
- Will this match your on your farm? It's going to now.
- I'm not fussy.
- I don't think people would have been.
That's a good bunch of tiles, is that, and all home-made.
Alex and Peter head back to the farm to repair the buildings to be ready for more evacuees.
You're a braver man than me, Alex.
These new tiles certainly look the part.
I think we'll probably use the best part of 20-30 on this side of the building.
That leaves us with a couple of hundred for some of the major farm buildings.
There we are.
With the roof repaired, Alex and Peter furnish the building with Ruth's beds and quilts.
It's not the most salubrious of accommodation on the farm but it's warm and it's dry.
Better than being in the city centre of Southampton.
Come this way.
Mummy's coming in as well.
Most had no idea when they would ever return home.
How's that, then? Is that nice and comfy? Although rural areas like this were seen as safe havens, they weren't necessarily quite as safe as they first appeared.
There was a top-secret operation to lure enemy bombers away from the cities to the countryside, codenamed Operation Starfish.
I think this is the remnants of the command post of Starfish, or, at least, the Starfish in this area.
Only the first wave of German bombers were fitted with navigation systems.
They dropped firebombs on the target, lighting the way for the heavy bombers.
But by lighting decoy fires in the countryside, the bombers could be led off target.
Very, very, thick concrete, reinforced.
From this armoured bunker on Manor Farm, the decoy operation was put into action.
So that's the Itchen, with all the industrial zones of Southampton, the place that the German bombers really want to target.
Now, if you go a little bit further east, you've got a similar bend in the river.
So in landscape, it looks almost identical.
The other bombers are gonna be drawn to that site.
Instead of raining their bombs down on a city centre, on people and an industrial heartland, they're actually raining their bombs down on fields.
OK, and what have we got there? Manor Farm.
Here, decoy fires would have been ignited, once the incendiary fires in Southampton were under control.
But this wasn't the only way the countryside helped protect cities from German bombers.
- This is the Royal Observer Corps? - That's right, yes.
We're part of the Royal Air Force.
We provide the overland observation service for them, because their radar only looks out to sea.
Neville Cullingford served in the Royal Observers.
The table you see here, the map, this is a small segment of the main map on the control table at Winchester.
So that's our little piece of the group, what's within visual range of us.
You see the young women with their long sticks and boards, pushing things around on a board.
We're providing the information for those girls? That's right, she will be putting your plots on the table that we've observed from here.
A huge network of civilian volunteers operated like a human radar, 24 hours a day, tracking enemy aircraft.
In the countryside, this job often fell to farmers.
You actually had to have somebody out here on duty out in the open.
- This is basically standing in a field all night.
- Standing in a field.
We did have quite a sad number of the older men who actually died of pneumonia.
Really, it just got so cold? You really felt you were doing your bit stood out here.
Seeing the planes go over, doing something about it.
That's right, and the ones that the RAF weren't able to shoot down, were hopefully decoyed by the local Starfish site so they actually dropped their bombs on a poor farmer's field or on his farm, as opposed to on a city.
Decoy fires were often just simple wooden baskets filled with flammable material.
Just knocking up some baskets à la mode one, Operation Starfish.
Overseeing the operation is military expert Gerry Sutcliffe.
- Good to see you again.
- Good to see you.
Have you worked out how to set them off yet? Well, I was going to try and do it remotely, via remotely sending Peter over here with a match.
But I've a feeling that would take the best part of a night to try and get them all lit.
We can arrange something with some batteries and pieces of wire.
Current should go down it which will heat up the fuse.
It'll go bang and hopefully the rest of it will go with it.
- We could be actually sat quite a way away? - That's the idea.
Patterns of fire baskets were arranged to look like burning buildings.
And flammable liquids like turpentine, creosote and paraffin gave the impression from the air of factories and fuel dumps going up in flames.
That's nice, that should catch quick.
Stick some of the inflammable liquids and that on there.
I can get it wired up.
All the fires were triggered remotely, using electrically-operated detonators from the safety of a bunker.
Trail that wire out to somewhere safe.
Gerry, we're in a situation now where we've got our fires ready to light.
We'd in effect been waiting for a call from somewhere like Southampton, industrial area.
They will have dampened out all of the incendiary bombs there.
They're then putting in a call to us, at which point we act.
- When we get the signal.
- So we're waiting for that call? Neville's teaching Ruth how the Royal Observers tracked and identified aircraft.
We have a height bar here, on which the number one observer sets the height.
When you report it, if it's 6,000 or 5,000, you report it as "five" or "six".
Right, I don't bother to mention the thousands, cos everybody knows it's thousands of feet.
All number one does is to sight the aircraft and follow it round.
When he says, "On," that means that wherever the square is, that's the report you give.
In this case it's 8168.
Direction - it's which direction he's going.
Ah, OK.
So he's heading north.
Whatever I tell you.
She acknowledges it by saying, "Thank you".
It's time to put it all into practice.
8365, heading north one at 8,000, Spitfire.
Thank you.
At the bunker, Operation Starfish is about to spring into action.
- Are we going together, here? - Yep.
If all went to plan, bombs would have soon been raining down here on the fields of Manor Farm, rather than on Southampton.
It's difficult really to measure the success of Operation Starfish.
In many ways, you look at Southampton today and it is an absolute shadow of the city it was before the Luftwaffe razed it to the ground.
They flattened the entire city, so it can't have been that effective.
But at the same time, if Operation Starfish saved just one life, then it was worthwhile.
By December 1940, despite the valiant efforts of the Royal Observer Corps and Operation Starfish, across Britain, 24,000 civilians had been killed in the Blitz.
Hundreds of thousands had been made homeless.
And millions were displaced.
Yet the nation was determined to celebrate Christmas.
It really was the only sort of unifying celebration that you got during the war.
Bonfire night obviously had to be cancelled - blackout, makes sense.
Easter, well, with no chocolate, that was a bit of a damp squib.
Christmas was the one big community wide celebration of the year.
That means that shortages or no shortages, I've somehow got to pull it all together and create something that people recognise of the sort of Christmases they were used to.
So Ruth's planning a Christmas meal and dance.
She's keeping the evacuees occupied by making decorations for the cottage.
Good, you are nice and careful.
I thought you'd be the lad for the job.
So many town children who were trying to get used to country living for the first time in their lives.
You also get the fact that many of the hosts out in the countryside were trying to get used to children - not just town children but any children.
There was no sort of rhyme nor reason to the billeting.
People who were lifelong bachelors suddenly found themself with a house full of kids.
Good job I know some things how to keep you lot occupied, isn't it? That's looking nice, I like this.
Alex is also preparing for Christmas.
With factories working overtime on the war effort, toys were in very short supply.
The government came to the rescue with advice on how to make your own.
I've got a pamphlet here.
Improvised Toys For Nurseries And Refugee Camps.
These are the sort of toys that would put a smile on my face today.
Here we've got a little horse you can ride on, a rocking horse.
It gives you all the patterns.
Here, these are from cotton reels.
This little man here is made entirely out of cotton reels.
I like that one, though.
That's a dragon.
Taking inspiration from the pamphlet, Alex is making a Spitfire out of old tin cans.
I've already made the prop.
This is the propeller.
I've got an old roofing nail there which I'm going to somehow fix in there, so that that spins.
But I'm just hoping that these toys bring a bit of light relief during our wartime Christmas celebrations.
There's actually a lovely line in here which says, "Some children may have passed through such horrors or be so weakened by illness or malnutrition that they have temporarily lost the creative art of play.
A toy which they may carry with them always may do far more than we might imagine to restore the health and confidence and peace of mind to a child.
" So what we're trying to make is fake sparkly snow.
This is like glitter, a cheap form of glitter.
Like so many other things, actual glitter was in short supply.
I mean, you can hardly justify having a glitter-making factory during wartime, can you? I've got a load of Epsom salts here.
Then I just want as little an amount of water as I possibly can to make them all dissolve.
There we go.
Look at that.
Scarcely liquid.
Do you fancy a bit of sparkly on your lanterns? Yeah, I think it'd be nice.
It's gonna need some guns if it's gonna shoot the Luftwaffe down.
So we'll put a little nail in there.
Shame to give this away.
By December 1940, nearly four million tons of merchant shipping, including desperately needed food, had been lost to German U-boats.
The usual Christmas fare of turkey had become scarce, as farmers turned away from livestock in favour of crops.
So the government suggested an alternative.
I've plumped for something that the Ministry of Food suggested, something called a murkey.
Dreadful sounding name, isn't it? It sounds awful! It's a mock turkey.
And these parsnips will be his legs.
It's basically sausage meat, sort of glorified stuffing.
Look at that.
Mind you, that is between 15.
Right, just straight all in, I think.
Now comes the crafty bit.
According to the recipe, the mixture must be moulded into the shape of a real turkey.
Shape that into something.
What shape are turkeys? Oh, my plate.
OK, parsnip legs.
That might have to do.
The one benefit, though, of having so many people in the house, is access to their ration books.
Basically, as soon as they're billeted with me, they have to hand their ration books to me.
I'm in charge of doing all the shopping, doing all the food.
Which means that you get sort of economies of scale.
It's all a bit more efficient when you've got a large number of you.
This says it all, this does.
That there, one pound four ounces of bacon.
That is five people's ration for the week.
One person's ration, two little rashers, you couldn't really do much with.
But when you get a block of five people's rations, you can start to do a bit more with it, you've got a few more options, it makes more sense.
There he goes, one mock turkey.
Ready for the oven.
As well as caring for evacuees, the farm work must go on.
Now the cows are inside for winter, they need mucking out daily.
It's just the sort of job that would have been undertaken by conscientious objectors.
This way.
And as usual, the government had some advice.
Right, well, as it says in the leaflet here, dung must not be wasted, chaps.
OK, I'll be leaving this by your bedsides later tonight for you to read through.
Obviously, as a farmer, we know that this has the ability to fertilise the fields.
But failing to use it, we are "also doing our country and ourselves a poor turn".
- Got your shovels? Great stuff.
- Yep.
Tom and Lorin are getting their first taste of life on a farm.
There we have it in operation.
Liquid manure.
Come on.
In, in, in! So, coming from the city, Lorin, is this something you're used to? Er no.
No? Once you forget what it is you're standing in, it's actually not so bad.
Yeah, the great thing about farmyard smells is, the longer you spend with them, the less you notice them.
Once this had been the mainstay of all fertilising on farms.
But it had been superseded, really, by artificial fertilisers which it was cheaper to buy in.
But many of the fertilisers, things like potash for example, had come from places like Germany.
To make up for that shortfall, the government were advising farmers to turn back to this, natural manure.
There's a nice lot of urine in there as well.
A nice lot of ammonia which, again, is another good part of the whole fertilising process.
It's all for the war effort.
That's what you have to keep reminding yourself with every shovelful.
hold that book.
"To the ball of foot.
" Where are you reading? Tomorrow they will celebrate Christmas.
And many in the village will attend the local dance.
So Ruth and Peter are learning to foxtrot.
It should be easy.
This is supposed to be the easy dance everybody knew.
- It's not quite the pogo, is it? - Not quite the pogo! Dancer Lisa McLean has come along to teach Ruth and Peter the steps.
- Hello.
- We really, really need your help.
We've been trying to learn the foxtrot, we got the book.
We've not got very far, though, really.
I'm not surprised.
You really are not gonna learn from that.
- You think I just ditch the book? - I should.
Throw it.
The foxtrot was developed in 1920s New York.
During the war, it reached the peak of its popularity.
Let's try it.
Two slow walks forward.
Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
Slow, quick, quick, slow.
Slow, quick, quick.
Easy, eh? Ish.
- Why don't you try it together? - Is that it? Ready? Here we go.
Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
Slow, quick, quick.
Very good! Up until the 1950s, the foxtrot was the most popular dance.
And early rock 'n roll records were categorised as foxtrots.
Slow, quick, quick.
Would absolutely everybody be able to do this? Everybody would have known this dance.
It was a really, really social thing to do.
It's quite chatty, though.
You can actually chat while you're dancing.
You're not leading.
Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.
- You're turning the wrong way now.
- Oh, no! Disaster has struck! The team are celebrating Christmas Day 1940s style, by inviting evacuees and neighbours to their austerity Christmas meal.
A certain someone seems to have worked his way over here.
Hello, fella.
Henry! It's a chance to sample the delights of wartime mock delicacies.
- It smells really good, doesn't it? - Very nice, yes.
What is it, goose? You should be so lucky! - It's known as murkey.
- Why's it called murkey? Mock turkey.
Quite mungry.
I must say, this actually looks more appetising than a-dry-as-old-boots turkey.
liberate some carrots, don't we? Anybody interested in a parsnip leg? You'll have half a leg? What do you all think of the murkey? Is it edible? Very good, Ruth.
You've done a marvellous job.
Nice and juicy.
Stuffing is the favourite part of my Christmas dinner.
So that is my favourite Christmas dinner.
Here we go, Henry.
Have some murkey.
Henry loves the murkey.
- He does.
- Good.
I think that brings us round to present time, doesn't it? That's for gobbling down your mince pie.
Happy Christmas, Finn.
Brian as well.
Vickers-Armstrongs, yeah.
An aeroplane.
- Is it a Spitfire? - It's meant to be.
It is a Spitfire.
It's a tractor! - There's a special present for you, Ruth.
- My goodness! Magazines often included instructions for home-made gifts.
Oh, a hat! Oh, gosh, that's fantastic! A little tilt hat for you, Ruth.
- On the front, like that? - On the side.
That's it.
Made from a man's trilby hat, make do and mend.
- Really, cut down? - It is, yeah.
- I'm really impressed, thank you.
- Made by my own fair hand.
Consumer goods became scarce as factories were turned over to war work, so presents tended to be practical items.
Right, now next up, Ruth no prizes for guessing what this is.
Unwrap it, see what it is! Oh, I can't imagine what this is! "To Alex.
" Thank you all.
Maybe I've got an aeroplane as well.
It's very fragrant.
Soap? Are you trying to tell me something, guys? In 1940, soap was, in fact, the most popular of all Christmas presents.
Mm, that familiar smell.
Happy Christmas to everybody.
Let's hope we're all here for the next one.
Well said.
Happy Christmas.
After lunch, everyone heads to the village dance hall.
It was a chance, just for a few hours, to forget the horrors of war.
It's wonderful, isn't it? I mean, you know all that pressure, bombers overhead, people being blitzed out of their homes you know, the war really coming home.
And then suddenly you can just forget it all.
That's the thing.
There's no way I can imagine the stress that everyone was under during the war.
But I can see how this would have been such a release.
Yes, you can, can't you? People are losing their loved ones by this point.
People are being bombed out of their homes.
The whole hardness of war is really starting to bite home.
And here we have the community just letting their hair down.
Forget it all.
Just put it all to the back of your mind.
Have what fun while you can.
While you can, make the most of it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the King.
The King.
And to absent friends.
Absent friends.
Hear! Hear! Hear! Hear! Despite the brief respite for Christmas, Britain would have to fight on for another five years.
The pressure on the wartime farmer would get even greater, as they battled to defend, shelter and feed the nation.

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