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Editor's Note: In February 2012, we received an e-mail from Stanley Slater, who spent his early years in Ridgeway and has fond recollections of his time there. Stan kindly offered to provide us with photographs and an account of his memories of those days.

 

 

Stanley (Peter) Slater

 

 

 

Stan Slater went to school in Ridgeway from 1929 to 1932 and lived in the village until 1938. His mother was Edith Atkin, daughter of Joseph and Mary Atkin. Edith met Stan's father shortly after the end of World War One, when he came to Ridgeway to be employed by the Hutton family at the Lawn. They married in Doncaster, which is where Stan was born. Shortly after this, Edith's elder sister came to visit from New Zealand; she insisted on calling Stan by the name of Peter, and he was known by this name throughout all the years he lived in Ridgeway!

 

Edith was rather in awe of her Aunt Ann, a nursemaid by profession, who looked after Stan for the first six months of his life. This resulted in his having a hernia, because Ann did not believe in comforting babies when they cried. For many years, Stan had quite a large operational scar as evidence of this. Furthermore, although Edith was a keen Methodist, Aunt Ann insisted that Stan should go to the CofE Church, where she always had her "beady" eyes on him during the evening service. For all that, though, Stan remembers her for many kindnesses as well.

 

When Stan was about seven years old, his parents separated and he came with his mother to Ridgeway, where they first had rooms in Mr Unwin's house in Church Lane. Mr Unwin and his dog are shown in the photograph below.

 

 

 

 

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Whilst living there, the smell of gas would often waft over the wall from nearby. In those days, before electricity was introduced into the village, the church was illuminated by acetylene lamps employing calcium carbide and water, the by-products of which had a characteristic smell.

 

Edith and Stan later moved into one of the cottages on Sloade Lane, near to where the stream crosses the road. There, they had milk delivered by Mr Littlewood, after it had been passed through the cooling system in Fox's building at Commonside, opposite the entrance to Sloade Lane. Stan remembers the two Fox daughters, Ella and Beattie, the latter living next door to them in Sloade Lane after  her marriage to a "Frank". Cars were not around in large numbers but he thinks Beattie had a brand new Hillman. Nearby lived the Crooks family - the Father a miner, and very religious. Of his two boys, Ron, the eldest, had a racing type bicycle and copies of Health and Efficiency, which gave Stan his first glimpse of interesting female photographs! The younger, Raymond, with whom he played football in a nearby farmer's field, probably went on to have a trial with Sheffield United. There was a Webster family nearby and the husband took Stan to his first soccer match at Hillsborough;  as a result, he's been a Wednesday supporter ever since. The last building up Sloade Lane was Fidler's farm, and beyond this there was an ideal field for sledging. Stan had a photo which he took on Sloade Lane of Denis Havenhand at the bottom of a bomb crater, created after one of the raids on Sheffield. He recalls that Dennis's mother, Gladys, was one of two female singing soloists in the Chapel choir.

 

In Stan's day, there was no gas or electricity, and in his family, the only flush toilet was the one in his Aunt Ann's cottage, which he thinks fed into a cesspit. He remembers the "midden men", one of whom was certainly a Nicholson, calling round in their old lorry to take away the night soil.

 

Stan's mother was left without much money because his father defaulted from the outset on maintenance, but she kept her family fed and clothed by working all hours, knitting and baking for friends and village folk. Stan would be called on to deliver the bread and cakes by bicycle. In spite of this shortage of money, Stan's time as a school boy was very happy and he remembers Ridgeway with deep affection, spending some of the happiest times of his young life there.

 

 

 

Stan with his Mother Edith

 

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He remembers Keith Renshaw (who wrote our website article on Birley Hay) and recalls being very envious of the set of Children's Encyclopaedias that Keith had. On one particular winter's day, he went with his mother to Keith's home, for tea. Regrettably, Edith had some difficulty eating the coconut macaroons that she was offered. Whilst no-one was looking, she put the remnants in a handkerchief, and at a suitable moment, put it in her overcoat pocket. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave, Keith's father kindly brought her coat to warm in front of the fire and a shower of macaroon pieces fell out!

 

As a result of his Aunt Ann's insistence, Stan was a regular Churchgoer and a member of the Church choir. He recalls that the church organ was provided with air from a hand pump, which it was the choirboys' duty to operate during services.  Apparently, they learned how to produce some very unmusical noises by allowing the bellows to be starved of air. Very occasionally, they had to pump on a Saturday afternoon for visiting organists who were practising. When they thought  their football playing time was being shortened the boys pumped until the bellows were full almost to bursting and then made a hasty departure. 

 

The vicar, by the name of Partridge, was unmarried and lived in what was then a large vicarage (now the Old Vicarage Restaurant) with a housekeeper, Miss James.  Stan has provided us with the following photos which show the vicar on a donkey in Church Lane, and a goat that he kept firmly tethered in the vicarage grounds. (Stan is in the photo with the goat)

 

 

 

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Reverend Partridge also had a toboggan which the choirboys used, and he made sure that they had an annual trip to the pantomime in Sheffield Lyceum.

 

Stan's days in the Church came to an end when his formidable Aunt Ann died and his Mother transferred him to the Methodist Chapel which she attended. There he once again pumped the organ, for a small financial reward, but this time in full view of the congregation!

 

 

 

Stan (on the left) with his good friend Eric Fisher (elder brother of Frank)

 

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Whilst he was a pupil at Ridgeway school, Stan was able to win a Scholarship which allowed him to attend the new Grammar school at Halfway. The following is an extract, which we discovered, from the Honours List published in the 1937 Ridgeway School Magazine, and it shows Stan's 1933 Award. Moreover, it shows that even the School Authorities thought that his middle name was Peter!

 

 

 

 

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Life after Ridgeway

 

Stan joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and he has said very little of this. However, we have since found a considerable amount of information on the internet which shows that he had a distinguished career. We are grateful to Michael Heywood for providing some of this information. (Michael is the husband of Frank Fisher's grand-daughter.)

 

Stan became a Lancaster Pilot and played a major part in the activities of Bomber Command during the War. He participated in many sorties, against both German and Italian targets, operating with 100 Squadron and 576 Squadron. As a result of these activities, he was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). The citations for these, from the London Gazette, are shown below:

 

Distinguished Flying Cross   Distinguished Service Order

 

 

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Towards the end of the War, whilst with 103 Squadron, he took off from RAF Elsham Wolds in order to lay mines in the Kattegat area. On the return flight the Lancaster caught fire after being suddenly attacked by a German JU 88G-6 night fighter and at 21:45 hours the aeroplane crashed at Østergaarde in Denmark. Two of the crew were killed during the attack and the remaining five managed to bail out.

 

Stan was helped by a local farmer who arranged for the Kørvel family of Ølgod to take him to their home. Here he was quartered in the attic while two German officers were quartered in the basement! Thanks to the Danish Resistance, he was back in the UK three weeks later.

 

Accounts of the event can be found at

 

http://www.flensted.eu.com/1945026.shtml

 

http://www.airmen.dk/pdfs/C101TarmM2-en.pdf

 

and these include the following photograph of Stan at that time.

 

 

 

 

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At the end of World War Two, he was offered a Permanent Commission in the RAF and subsequently served for a further thirty years. Whilst holding the rank of Wing Commander, he was awarded the OBE, and eventually he retired with the rank of Group Captain.

 

This year (2012), he attended the Ceremony in Green Park to witness the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial by the Queen. The Memorial comes after many years of campaigning by the Bomber Command Association, and for many veterans and family members it is a long awaited acknowledgement of the significant contribution made by the men who served in Bomber Command in World War Two. Now in his ninetieth year, Stan says that he is pleased to have lived long enough to see this event take place after so many years of uncertainty. He very much enjoyed the Lancaster fly-past, and completed the day by having his hand shaken by Prince Charles.

 

Stan married Jim Bishop's sister and has often visited Ridgeway over the years to meet Jim and his wife, sometimes playing tennis with Jim or going to the football match at Hillsborough. He now lives in the South of England, but when he has the opportunity he still visits Ridgeway to see the village again and to renew acquaintances with friends and relatives.

 

 

Editor's Note: We regret to record that Stan died at the age of 92 on 29 August 2014.

 

His obituary can be found at:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11203815/Group-Captain-Stan-Slater-obituary.html

 


 

 

Information relating to the history of Bomber Command can be found at

 

http://www.rafbombercommand.com/

 

and details of the Memorial can be found at

 

http://www.bombercommand.com/the-memorial

 

 

JCB

August 2012

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