Woodland walk 1942

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Wendyf
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Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 08 Nov 2014, 20:43

This has no connection to Barnoldswick but it is a nice story.

My Mum died in May this year aged 93 and as she was someone who didn't like to look back, my brother and I have found it hard to think of a place where we could remember her and also our father who died in 2002.
Steve & I were born in Wyke near Bradford, which was Mum's family home, and lived there till 1956 when we moved to Leeds because of Dad's work. He was also a Bradford lad, born and raised in Dudley Hill. Mum & Dad were always moving away from their working class origins in Bradford, bettering themselves and their family and we benefited from this but lost a sense of our roots in the process.
Mum and Dad met at a village dance in Tong in May 1941. Harry aged 20 was on leave from the RAF before embarking for the Middle East. He was a ground gunner and had been on an airbase in the South East during the Battle of Britain. Mary was 19 and worked in the "artist's room" at a photographic studio in Brighouse colouring black & white photos. They had one date on May 8th 1941 before he left for North Africa, and their romance continued with hundreds of letters exchanged till they married in September 1944 when Harry was home on compassionate leave due to his mother's death.
There was one letter which was separate from all the rest, kept with Dad's War Journal. Mary wrote a letter in July 1942 about a walk through the local woods...known as Judy Woods...describing every detail of the walk as if Harry was there with her. It must have been quite special to someone out in the desert.

I looked up Judy Woods on the internet and found a website for The Friends of Judy Woods, who are trying to improve the woods by various projects, I also recognised the names of the main protagonists as also being the members of the local history society. I sent them a transcription of Mum's letter, questioning if her walk was still recognisable on the ground, and received a delighted response.
Steve and I are soon going to meet up with the Friends of Judy Woods to discuss the possibility of a trail following Mum's walk with a guide downloadable from the website. Not only that but one of the photos I sent them of Mum out walking turns out to have been taken on a sunken lane in the woods which is now so grown over they didn't know about the raised stone pathway shown clearly in the photo.
So Steve & I have hopefully established a connection with our roots, and may be able create a lasting memorial to Mum & Dad in the process, even though they may not have wanted it themselves!

This is Mum in 1942 at the time the letter was written.

Image

And Dad somewhere in the Western desert June 1942.

Image

The original letter.

Image

A transcription:-
Judy woods letter.docx

I've posted the letter further down the topic, in case the attachment doesn't work.

It's hard to believe that someone who left school at 14 could write a letter like that. Did she copy the idea from a book or a film? We may never know.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by PanBiker » 08 Nov 2014, 21:28

What a fantastic post Wendy and a fantastic and thoughtful letter from your mum. I hope you and your brothers quest to create a lasting memorial from these roots come to fruition. Thank you for sharing this.
Ian

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by David Whipp » 08 Nov 2014, 22:02

Thanks Wendy.

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Stanley » 09 Nov 2014, 05:09

That's a wonderful letter Wendy, so firmly rooted in its time that you don't need the date at the top to work out exactly when it was written. (Hay cocks and sugar rationing!) 'A small dishevelled woman with hair blowing about', now who does this remind me of?
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 09 Nov 2014, 08:17

:thinking:

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Gloria » 09 Nov 2014, 09:19

Wendy that is lovely, can we read it all please????
And who is this small dishevelled woman with tousled hair????? No kidding who your parents are!!
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Cathy » 09 Nov 2014, 09:49

Thanks for sharing Wendy, a lovely story.
(I couldn't download the link, it says it is either moved or deleted)
I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK... they know me here. :)

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 09 Nov 2014, 10:54

SUNDAY JULY 26TH 1942 51. CLARE ROAD,
WYKE
My Darling,
This afternoon I have been for one of my favourite walks through the woods, and as I have strolled along I’ve been scribbling in a little note book, all that I saw, so that I could tell you about it in detail and make you think when you read this that you were actually there. I don’t flatter myself that I can do this, but I would like to try, but if you find yourself getting bored you can just stop. But believe me Harry I really enjoyed doing it, even though I got a few sympathetic and otherwise stares from passers-by. They wouldn’t understand anyway. I only wish I could get this to you quickly, but as it is I suppose it will be about September before you receive it, and I can’t possibly put it all on a postcard. Well prepare yourself for my composition Darling – here I go.
First of all just close your eyes and visualise a small female not quite five foot, in a navy gabardine raincoat, no stockings and a pair of brogues, gloves protruding from one pocket and such untidy hair, but feeling all happy and glowing inside, because you are with her, and doesn’t care a damn what anybody thinks. This, may I inform you, is your companion for the afternoon.
Leaving the outer world behind, we turn left from the main road along a narrow pathway, where we have to walk in single file. In front of us we see nothing but fields. The noise and crowds are instantly left behind and a strong wind blowing towards us carries away with it our petty worries. We cross two fields, climb three steps and continue up a little mound. This mound blocks our vision for a short while, but we are fully rewarded when we reach the top, for on either side of us are hayfields where little cones of hay are waiting to be gathered in. Inhale the smell because it’s rich and sweet. On we wander, aimlessly, alongside very old bread and cheese trees. There’s the wind bringing through the air the notes of the church clock, striking three. Two hours of heaven we have. But time doesn’t count here. Now we go through a quaint turnstile, somewhat common around these parts, and continue along a path with low stone walls on either side over which to the left is a field of beautiful straight furrows of rich brown, the good earth. As yet we haven’t met a single soul, but we don’t worry, we have each other. The clouds are piled very high in front and the light is very bright, but behind me there are oppressive rain clouds, but one should never look back. So we look ahead and see a large field, dotted along its edge with dark green trees, and one beautifully shaped haystack. This forms the horizon, but if I look to the left, why look Harry, you can see for miles and miles, and it all looks so peaceful and undisturbed, almost like a dream picture – a kind of transparent picture in a mist, unreal and yet you can walk right into it. See that squadron of black birds fly overhead without a sound, they are landing in that field to see what damage they can do.
Now we abruptly turn left, down a stony incline. The view of the landscape is now in front of us, but not for long, because as we slowly descend, a farmhouse blocks out the view. Alongside the farm, see that field full of drowsy cows, really taking it easy. Gradually we ascend again and approach the edge of the wood. All you can see past the top of the hill yet though, is a massive cluster of tree tops and right in the centre a church spire. The path now is edged with blackberry bushes, although as yet they are only in flower. Once more on the level again, we enter the woods, (two men just passed and stared rather at me scribbling, but they don’t say a word and the silence is still unbroken). My hair has blown all out of place and I look an absolute wreck, do you mind? Still, I’m happy and the sun comes out to aid us. There are a few bits of straggling white clover and one or two dandelions putting in an appearance in the hedge adding a bit of colour to it. This wood to the right of us is very dark and desolate and seems almost lifeless. I never go in that side it’s too foreboding, so let’s continue straight on down a steep rocky pathway into the heart of the wood. The bracken is almost shoulder high on each side of the path, where not long ago, profusions of bluebells flourished. Hear the wind whistling through the trees with such magnitude, and yet it doesn’t seem to disturb the peace, and just rustles the leaves. We stand and look up in awe at a majestic horse chestnut tree, wondering how many years it has weathered the storms, and wondering what it could tell us if it could only talk. If you look back along the pathway the sunlight is in patches where the trees break, and it’s like day and night, day in the sun patches and night in the shadows.
Going on a little further we arrive at the crossroads of the woods. Strangers would ponder here, which way to take as they all look so picturesque, but we carry straight on , down a steep rough path to the bridge at the bottom, on which we sit, dangling our legs and listening to the tiny stream gurgling merrily beneath us. Now mother -nature really has taken toll of me and I feel exhilarated and inspired and somewhat heady. How do you feel? Well, we have had our rest so we go down the steps by the bridge and carry on beside the stream for a while, and anyway there are too many people on the bridge. I hear d a sudden splashing and looked down to see a dog revelling in the shallow water. Now it comes out and shakes itself right in front of us without a word of apology and trots on its merry way. Listen at those two fellows just passing, talking politics or war. Honestly I don’t know how they can in this glorious atmosphere and with this air so much like wine. Fools!
The pathway is very rough and up and down and you keep coming to little steps and crude wooden seats made out of trees by the scouts. We sit on one of these benches and meditate for a while by the stream. Tell me is this just a dream? Oh! Isn’t that stream lazy? I’m sure if it wasn’t for the wind it wouldn’t appear to be moving at all. See how it twists and turns so many times on its course. On the opposite bank is just a vivid green hill, ascending very quickly, with nothing but the blue sky beyond, and down here we seem to be enclosed in a little world of our own. Granted the flies and midges have a part in it, curse them. We don’t seem able to sit in one place very long as there is so much to see and one wants to go on, although numerous times I’ve seen it all before and almost know it by heart yet it’s beauty is so wonderful that to me it always seems new.
On we go; walking first in sunshine then in shadow, and as we round a bend there’s a mighty rushing sound above the wind. Ah! There it is, look, it’s a waterfall, all silvery in the sunlight, falling over moss-grown stones. If we climb the steps at the side and look down on it, it looks very small, and you wonder how it can possibly make so much noise. Here’s my friend the woodman. He always says “don’t get lost” and I think I almost know the woods as well as him. He’s a grand fellow and adores the woods. This is a favourite seat of mine. It’s comprised of one thick log to sit on and a thinner one for a backrest, but the crowning glory is the beautiful beech tree that almost covers it with its massive wing (or should I say branch) span. (Curse these midges! Every time I stand to scribble they cover my hands, face and legs, and don’t you dare laugh, remember you are meant to be here too!)
Gosh, I nearly fell over that tree stump then with being too wrapped up in what I was doing. We’ve walked away from the stream now and are on much higher ground, almost level with the hill on the opposite side, and the colour scheme is blue, green & white, and the wind roars more vigorously, and the air seems even purer. In my mind is nothing but peace, and before my eyes is nothing but beauty and in my heart……well, peace of a kind, accompanied by a very strong longing to have you with me in reality. There I go spoiling it all, I’ll carry on imagining for a while longer.
Well here we are on the descent again and under an archway of beech and sycamore trees. It’s along here I love to come and trample in autumn when the ground is covered with beautiful golden leaves. They are all trodden back into the earth now though to grow again I suppose. These seven massive trees here forming a kind of half circle, look for all-the-world like sentinels on guard they are so tall, straight and strong. On closer inspection you’ll see all kinds of signatures carved on them. Pretty ancient some of them I bet. Then there is that stricken tree with not a leaf or branch on it, just a tall, grey, forlorn tree deserted years ago. Sad.
Something snapped underneath my feet. It’s only a twig, but isn’t it a lovely sound? On looking down I see my feet surrounded by beech nuts and can’t resist picking a few, adding a bit more to my untidiness with dirty hands.
Gosh! That was a pull. I couldn’t write climbing that rocky mountain path. We are at about the highest part of the wood now and let’s sit and recover our breath amongst the bracken and heather to be. We’ll start on our return journey now, only this time we are on the top of the hill with the main part of the wood sloping down to the right of us and just a yard or two of it to the left and then stretches of green fields. Through the dense trees ahead you can just catch a colourful glimpse of red roofs and blue sky. In that oat field on the left you can just see the head and shoulders of a man hurrying through. It looks so funny from here, almost as if his head was travelling alone along the tops of the green stalks.
We’re just crossing over a tiny offspring of the stream, which used to trickle down the hill into the valley below and join its mother, but now you see it’s all dried up. From this point, leaning against a solid oak tree, you get a wonderful view of the waterfall below. One could never describe the beauty of it and its surroundings, but it just takes my breath away. That’s the first bird I’ve heard whistling this afternoon, maybe the wind drowns their songs or perhaps I’ve been too wrapped up in you to notice.
Now we descend once more to the bridge and from there retrace our steps. My, these hills are much easier to climb up than down. I can’t get a foothold, and the wind at my back seems intent on getting me to the bottom as quickly as possible….maybe if we run….there that’s better, we made it. Can you hear the stream again now? Let’s stay for a while on the bridge again, it’s deserted now. We can marvel at its beauty in comfort. The only black spot is the hut someone’s put up at the side, for the sale of ices etc.
On the homeward trek I notice the old queer shaped stone, which we used to call the wishing well when I was a kid. You closed your eyes, turned round three times and wished…then your wish came true. I think I’m a bit too old to do that now, but I’m still wishing darling, but I mustn’t tell you what I wish or it won’t come true. You’re allowed to guess though.
Now we’re almost at the edge of the wood again. Phew! That was a wasp that was. A little too near for safety too. Well now, isn’t this a friendly horse pushing its nose over the wall at us. Sorry pal, we have no sugar, it’s rationed now you know. Ah! Back into sight comes the panorama of countryside and we are in the open once more. All the rain clouds seem to have disappeared and the sun is burning my back, but the wind still plays havoc with my hair, and as Mother will say when I get back, “You look as though you’ve been pulled through a hedge!”
Well my dear, this is the last field and I feel a pang of regret to know that this lovely afternoon is over. There is consolation though, you can always come back here and find it all practically the same. Even if you can’t recapture this afternoon’s memory, you can always make new ones and they may even be better.
So……here is civilization again…… roads, buses and cars, people, politics, worldly affairs and war. Ah well! We have our memories like these to help us over. Now for something to cure this appetite I have achieved. You know I feel a hundred times better now than when I first set out, and how do you feel Harry? Pretty bored I bet. Well that’s the best I can do. I’m afraid the grammar and tenses aren’t very good, but you’ll understand it I think and darling I hope it makes you happy and I’m only dreaming now of the time when we’ll go through these woods together in reality.
Goodnight Sweetheart,
All my Love
xxxx Mary xxxx
P.S. I guess the wine is still in my head.
P.P.S. If you ever get through this epistle just let me know will you?
x Love Mary x

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Gloria » 09 Nov 2014, 12:49

Lovely Wendy, thankyou.
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Moh » 09 Nov 2014, 13:54

Brought tears to my eyes.
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 09 Nov 2014, 14:44

Thank you for all your lovely comments.

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Stanley » 10 Nov 2014, 05:16

Just shows what joy there is in digging into your roots. No matter how well we do we always end up saying "I wish I'd asked her/him about that". Get the old photos out today and write info on the back of them!
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Gloria » 10 Nov 2014, 08:52

I wish I had listened more to my grand and greatgrand parents when they used to --what I called--whitter on a bit. I now rack my brains with "what did grandma say about that??". Grandma used to take me to see her Mum and they used to plonk me down in front of a large deep drawer full of photos, oh how I wish I could be that little girl again for half an hour. I would love to see those photos again, and of course earwig on what Grandma and Great Grandma were chatting about.
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Cathy » 10 Nov 2014, 09:33

Thanks Wendy, I turned down my tv so I could read it all properly. The letter is very poetic and almost like a meditation in parts. I wonder how many times your Dad read it again and again. She must have known exactly what he needed. Just lovely.
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 26 Nov 2014, 13:45

Stanley wrote:Just shows what joy there is in digging into your roots. No matter how well we do we always end up saying "I wish I'd asked her/him about that". Get the old photos out today and write info on the back of them!
I'm off to Wyke tomorrow to meet up with my brother and a couple of people from the Friends of Judy Woods who have now traced Mum's walk on the ground. We will be following her walk and talking about setting up a guided trail.....exciting!
I was looking through a pile of old photos for anything relevant to take with me when I came across this wartime photo of Dad and a group of other lads in a camp in Palestine.

Image

Unusually, someone had taken the time to write not only names but home towns on the back of the photo. My Dad is the one at the front and the lad right behind him is Cyril Clayton from Nelson. Being a curious type I couldn't help but do a bit of investigative work on Cyril, and it soon became a distinct possibility that this was the father of local author, historian and one time member of OGFB, John A Clayton! I asked Stanley to contact him on my behalf and sure enough, it is his father.
What a small world, and well done Dad for writing names on that one photo!

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Gloria » 27 Nov 2014, 08:47

As you say Wendy, "What a small world", and an amazing story.
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 26 Jan 2015, 18:13

The friends of Judy Woods are hoping to launch a trail through the woods based on Mum's letter on Sunday 26th July this year, which is the same day & date as the letter was written in 1942. Can anyone work out how often the 26th July will have fallen on a Sunday since 1942? It's beyond me!

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 26 Jan 2015, 18:49

Is it once every 7 years?

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by PanBiker » 26 Jan 2015, 19:01

Not exactly Wendy, including 1942 and 2015 its 11 times.

Here are the years, (I used an online calendar calculator but had to look at each year):

42,53,59,64,70,81,87,92,98,09,15

Excellent news anyway, and a nice gesture.
Ian

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by PanBiker » 26 Jan 2015, 19:31

Something amiss Plaques you have some missing?
Ian

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Stanley » 27 Jan 2015, 04:39

Nice thought Wendy.... Have I missed a post by P?
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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 27 Jan 2015, 08:40

Thanks Ian. :grin:

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by plaques » 27 Jan 2015, 11:25

PanBiker wrote:Something amiss Plaques you have some missing?
I was hoping that nobody had noticed when I put my version of the dates as a reply. I was working on the system of repeats every 6, 11, 11, years. which gave the years 42,53,64,70,81,92,98,09,15 ie: only 9 events. Since you posted yours about 2 nanoseconds before mine I checked yours out and couldn't see anything wrong with it so I removed mine. I then spent a rather sleepless night counting days rather than sheep. Must give it another go to see where I missed out on the other two years. Wendy its all your fault.

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Wendyf » 27 Jan 2015, 12:30

:sorry: I slept quite well having passed the problem on......

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Re: Woodland walk 1942

Post by Stanley » 28 Jan 2015, 05:07

Ah well, so that's all right then. I will sleep tonight.....
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