Letter: Boots were frozen to the floor during horrid winter of 1947

May I add a few recollections of horrid winters.

1943: Station drive to Coalbrookdale station as too frozen to be cleared by anything but pick and shovel. Out-of-work builders did this for the council.

1944: Wood pigeons perched on my father’s ice-covered cabbages and brussels sprouts in the garden at Muckley Cross. They were trying to feed but couldn’t, so died there by the dozen.

All roads in the Ditton Priors, Monkhopton, Morville, Muckley Cross, Presthope and Bourton areas were blocked by snow and impassable to traffic. The situation was resolved by the US Army unit at Ditton Priors who cleared many miles with a huge bulldozer. I witnessed some of this.

1946: I attended a services medical examination in mid-November in ankle-deep snow.

February 1947: As a rookie soldier with the Worcestershire Regiment, I cycled 45 miles from Muckley Cross to Norton Barracks outside Worcester to avoid being AWOL. There were no trains or buses due to the snow. The journey took seven hours. I became a crook along with many others by stealing anything that would burn on a barrack hut stove. This included officers’ coal rations and a spare hut. German prisoners of war were used for digging out the solidly frozen lavatories at the barracks. We thawed out frozen taps daily in the washroom with burning newspaper to get a wash and shave.

April 1947: Snow thawed at Worcester, but north of England remained frozen until nearly May. Boots froze to the floor overnight in the barrack hut in Catterick Camp. People used to sleep in their greatcoats and denim fatigue trousers if they were dry after day’s work to maintain some vestige of normal body temperature. Taps froze overnight on a washing up sink in a cookhouse where I was employed for a week. I became an emergency coalman for a week serving Army married quarters. I didn’t get offered a single cup of tea by any of the stingy wives.

January or February 1963: The hot water bottle froze in my marital bed in Much Wenlock while at work.

Things could be a lot worse than the recent situation couldn’t they?

A Minton

Bridgnorth