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Our PRATT family and War

Maria's fifth child was born while John George [1196] was serving as Private 18021 in the 3rd South Staffords. She sent a message to him asking what name to give the child. He replied Daisy May, as there was a song of that name popular with the soldiers. Another child, Herbert, was to be born before the Great War ended.

John George also served in the Labour Corps which was formed in 1919, the photograph of  Ria shown on the main PRATT page was probably taken for John George to keep while away with his regiment. The photograph taken outside 4 Back 41 Guildford Street shows Maria with from left to right Jack Daisy Harold baby Herbert and Kate.

John George’s medal card shows: (WO/372/16)
PRATT John  South Stafford Regiment Private 18021
Labour Corp   658139
Medals: British War Medal & Victory Meda

During the Second World War all the eligible sons served in the forces.

Army   Herbert, Norman, Charles and William (National service after the war)
RAF    Horace (driver N.Africa) - Phillip (driver)
RN      Sidney (on Corvettes)
Harold and Stanley also served but it is not known in which service.

Norman

Sidney

Horace

Phillip

Norman and Herbert with John George


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Daisy

Daisy worked in the ICI munitions factory. This was probably the Kynock factory in Witton. She told many stories of her time working there. One very sad story of how a fellow worker was killed when a cap wasn't put squarely on a shell and the operator was blown out of the shed. They worked in small sheds for that reason so if a problem occurred only one small group would be affected.

She and another girl had to fetch powder from the arsenal in a two handed pail carrying it along board walks back to their shed. They had to change their clothes completely for work passing through a clean area they wore rubber soled overshoes and even had to have brass hair clips, as steel was considered hazardous as if a clip should fall into the machinery it could cause a spark.

They took turns to go up on to the roof to watch for possible air raids, The search lights would swoop out a circle across the sky to signal the sirens and the watcher on the roof would sound an alarm in the factory gaining a few extra moments to seek shelter. The pay was good with extra danger money overalls provided and laundered and every shift they had to drink a milky drink to counter the chemical reaction of yellowing skin.(She wasn't sure what exactly was in the drink). Even with the drink she joked that she looked more like a buttercup than a Daisy. (The girls at the Bridgend Munitions factory were known as Welsh Daffodils for the same reason).

In 1943 Charles Graves produced a book titled “The Home Guard of Britain” Home Guard units from all over Britain contributed brief histories and interesting incidents that they had been involved in. The Kynock ICI works is not mentioned by name but there is an item about a Warwickshire Factory which was large enough to have 35 defence posts and 7 platoons. Munitions manufacturing was a small part of the work carried out at Kynock which covered a huge area. The description states “The factory from which our men are drawn is on ‘No 1’ priority” it also states that the company provides two Officers and 60 men to guard vulnerable points in the factory at weekends and special guard duties at Battalion Headquarters, it comments “...our men only have one day’s break in seven and work up to seventy  hours per week,  these duties call for a degree of physical fitness and endurance which sometimes taxes their capacity to the utmost...” They were heavily bombed during 1940 and 41. On one night alone thousands of incendiaries fell on the factory, the Home Guard not having enough spades used their steel helmets to shovel damp earth to smother the bombs. The members often had to be restrained from endangering themselves in their efforts in the work.

A history of the works can be seen at http://www.staffshomeguard.co.uk/KOtherInformationKynochV2A.htm


We are grateful for help from Rootschat members Stockman Fred and ChrisEM  for information about the Home Guard and Kynocks

Daisy's fiancé

Daisy's fiancé was called up so they arranged a hasty wedding  which took place 21 September 1940 at All Saints church Stechford. As soon as the wedding was arranged Edward was told his work was considered vital to the war effort. At that time he was a tool fitter at the Nuffield factory making Spitfires and Lancaster bombers. This meant that apart from training with the Territorial RE from 1937 and being a member of the Home Guard he did not serve with the regular forces.

See also