Duncan Pigg is a veritable encyclopaedia of Hethersett life - not the least because he has lived through over 90 years of it.
So I was delighted when he unearthed another piece of Hethersett history from his collection.
So today I'm going to talk about Hethersett's wartime attempts to raise thousands of pounds to buy a tank - yes you heard that correctly, a tank.
And not surprisingly the organisers called it The Hethersett Tank Fund and its motto was "a tip in the tin is a tip for a tank." This referred to a number of collecting tins that were in place in the village.
The appeal was led by Donald Harrison and members of the Hethersett Youth Service Group, which included Duncan Pigg who, at the time of its launch in July 1942, was 16 years of age.
Details of the fund and appeal exist in a beautifully kept handwritten booklet where the following is the first entry by Donald on July 21st, 1942:
"In a report to the County Education Office mentioned that I would like to start a tank fund to raise money for a tank, also asked if they could tell me where to send contributions."
Donald's next entry on August 1st gives more information:
"Reply from Mr H. Moore, secretary for the county education office. In answer to your question about the tank fund, I understand from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Norwich that your best method would be to write direct to the Ministry of Supply and ask them to let you have the address to which such contributions should be sent."
So three of the Hethersett Service of Youth Group - Duncan, Donald and George Lake - set about raising money. They raised 2/-d (two shillings or 10p today) from the sale of foreign stamps. Duncan arranged for a collecting tin to be placed in the Kinkajou Cafe off what is now the B1172 and which was owned by his mother. Marion Curson agreed to have a tin in the Village Wool Shop.
The Kinkajou Cafe tin realised 10s 6d in its first month (approx 52p)
On October 31st, there was a tank fund dance at The Senior School in Norwich Road, Wymondham, where admission was 1/6d (7p) for civilians and 1/- (5p) for members of the Forces.
By November, 1942, the fund stood at £8 12s 6d (£8.62p) which wouldn't make a great dent in buying a heavy tank at £20,000 or a medium tank at £18,000 or even a light tank at ten grand.
Dann's Butchers took a collection team but Kent and Woods refused. There's an interesting entry in the log for November 12th, 1942:
"Letter to the Director of Public Relations asking if they wished us to send the money in small amounts or in lots of £10 per time, also whether it could go to a tank for the group or whether it would have to go to the country's tank fund."
A house to house collection raised 3/3d (16p) and then there was the intriguing "Battle of Threepennybits". Sadly there is no description of what this actually was.
I think the organisers began to realise that the task ahead of them was an impossible one as Donald noted after hearing about the cost of a tank.
"This seems as Mr Churchill would say. Rather like the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, at any rate when £10 is beside £20,000."
Undaunted, the trio continued to collect money, garner subscriptions and also organise a youth week in 1943. This included a lantern slide lecture by legendary Norfolk naturalist Ted Ellis, a whist drive, a dance and raffle, after which they were able to send off £35. One of the most original fundraisers was the sale of apple pips to a Mr H. Morse of Brundall for five shillings (25p).
But the fund was wound up when two of the leaders - Donald and George - were called up for active service after just one year of the fund.
Duncan kindly sent me some explanatory notes to shed some more light on the booklet - some of which I share here. I will be putting jpeg images of the booklet and more notes on my Hethersett History project at www.hethersettherald.weebly.com at a later date.
Donald Harrison was the son of Matthew Harrison who farmed White Hall Farm which is now Park Farm Hotel. Apparently Donald always slept outside in a Shepherd's Hut. George Lake was under gardener at Hethersett Priory. The wool shop mentioned was adjacent to the Queen's Head. Kent and Woods Grocers is now the village estate agents. Apple pips produced strong stems for rose grafting. The Kinkajou Cafe was in Kett's Oak and was demolished in the 1980s.