Aireborough Historical Society

A Teenager in Wartime Yeadon Part 4


John Denison
Title A Teenager in Wartime Yeadon
Name John Denison
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1926
Currently Residing Salisbury
Subject
Bottom Photo: John Denison aged 57.
It was taken in December 1983 as he was retiring after serving 37 years in the Army.

"I am not going into detail of my six weeks training which was ...hard especially it being winter.
I soon gave up on my pernickety feeding as I always seemed to be semi-starved and when I left had put on 3 inches in height and 21lb in weight.
Because of my medical grade and previous accounts experience I was the only one of the intake to be posted to the Royal Army Pay Corps.
On 15th January 1945 I reported to the Regimental Pay Office at Preston.

During this posting I got a couple of 48hr passes and off I went home but arrived in Leeds after the buses had stopped running and so had to attempt to hitch-hike.
There were few vehicles on the road at this time and though successful on one occasion on the other I walked the whole 7 miles home.
VE Day was celebrated in Preston where I spent most of the time on top of an air-raid shelter watching people dancing and singing.
In late May I was given the opportunity of a cross-posting with a chap at Bradford which I took up.
Members of Pay Offices were at that time living in billets and so I received permission to live out ie to go back to Yeadon where I was now able to pay my mother the 3s2d per day ration money and 2s6d lodging allowance.
And so, unusually, my story of wartime Yeadon continues but I am now in uniform.
Also I have now achieved 5ft 9ins and 147 lbs and lost a bit of an inferiority complex so that I can take an interest in girls who I had previously had little to do with as they were usually bigger than me!

I was in Yeadon when VJ day came in August but I do not recall any celebrations although I'm sure some were held.
My personal recollection is that Dad 'acquired' from his ARP stocks some flares and these were let off at the top end of Denison's Field.

Earlier on my friend Frank Wood and I took up membership of the Liberal Club in Yeadon High Street not because of any political conviction but because their snooker tables had the reputation of being the best in Yeadon.
There may also have been a financial motivation as, upon becoming servicemen, we received free membership.
Here I would play against Frank, his brother Leslie and John Quinton who I first met at the club and became a friend.
Another regular opponent was Jimmy Routh a butcher in the High Street who had lost an arm but was by no means handicapped.
As a cue-rest he used a metal block with a V shaped piece of metal which he slid around the table.
He was a good player often beating me but was also a 'bandit' as he insisted on claiming three blacks start.
Another club member was the diminutive Ernest Enoch, a billiard player, whose shoulders were just over being level with the table but he won most of the local competitions.
Another occasional visitor to the club was Sidney Howard a world famous comedian in early years, he had returned to his native Yeadon, died here, there was a massive attendance at his funeral.

Yeadon was the home to a Supply Depot which occupied a mill west of Albert Square.
Soldiers stationed there would use the chapel lower down High Street which provided tea-rooms and, rarely, I would drop in with servicemen friends home on leave.
It was odd because I once went in with John Smith and it was clear that the soldiers from the depot resented our presence in 'their canteen'
I once received quite a surprise when going across to the phone box in Albert Square, hatless, and was pounced upon by a couple of 'redcaps' and given a lecture - what on earth were fellows like that doing in a small town!

I would often meet with fellow servicemen on leave, usually at the Saturday night dance at the Town Hall and we would go off for a few drinks together.
I never got into dancing because although I never had any problem with drill movements I just could not get to grips with dance-steps.
Common practice with some of us was to go to the Town Hall about 8ish get our entry tickets then off to the pub for a few pints of Dutch courage before returning to 'chat up' the girls.
My pub at the time was the commercial at the top of Henshaw Lane later pulled down and replaced by The Tarn.
I cannot recall the name of the landlord but his wife was Queenie, it is appropriate that I can't name him as he always called me Ken."
Written August 2013

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Carlo Harrison

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