Wearily To War: Roger Bingham touches on the immediate local effects of the Second World War which broke out 80 years ago this month.

THE start of the Second World War on September 3, 1939 lacked the jingoism which had greeted the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

'This time' clamorous recruiting meetings were unnecessary since conscription, for 18-23-year-old men, had been introduced in April.

Generally the new warrior, having received his call up card, fitness certificate, travel warrant and a four shilling postal order, went off stolidly to his training camp - alone.

By Christmas, there were 750 Westmorland conscripts and in a hark back to what was now called 'the last war', hundreds of soldiers' parcels were dispatched from Kendal Post Office along with '11,500 smokes' provided by the 'tobacco committee' chaired by a Kendal doctor Dr J T Halliday.

With little land fighting during the so-called 'phony war', the first local fatality was a Kendal sailor Alan Raymond Hodgson who, in October, was one of 800 seamen who 'went down' when the Royal Oak battleship was torpedoed in Scapa Flow.

Women's work was not, initially, controlled. Even so press photos appeared of a Women's Territorial Army unit and, also, of Land Army Girls labouring in appalling weather, which throughout September included 24-hours-long downpours and instances of civilians and animals being struck by lightning.

Famously, whatever the weather, the Women's Voluntary Service and the Women's Institute members always seemed to be on-hand.

Happily, 'all were cheerful when the children arrived in pouring rain' ran a headline heralding the arrival of the first evacuees.

Similarly, one correspondent gushed 'providence (did he mean Hitler?) seeing these little mortals penned up in concrete tenements has given them a holiday in the fields'.

Despite some reported cases, there was little juvenile delinquency. Nevertheless, memories relayed tales of scabies, nits, ignorance of table manners, of visiting parents eating their hosts out of house and home and of escorting teachers refusing to be billeted in rural dwellings dependant on earth privies.

Above all there was compelling evidence that 'evacuation had two meanings'. The Westmorland Gazette reported that 32 per cent of the children wet their beds along with grumbles that the published compensation rates of 18 shillings for 'a matrass' (sic) and 5s 6d for sheets were insufficient.

Sheets offered at 6s 6d in Musgroves' of Kendal Summer Sale were a shilling dearer at Christmas.

Yet when, November, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle visited Lakeland he heard few complaints because two thirds of the Geordie evacuees had returned to Tyneside.

Behind them they left a welter of wartime regulations. Shops now had to lose by 5pm but the cinemas were allowed 'continuous' showing from 2pm-10pm 'even on Sundays'.

Thanks to the determined, but detested, Air Raid Precautions (ARP), Wardens, many offenders against the black-out regulations were caught out like the landlord of a public house who was fined five shillings for 'allowing a chink of light through the Smokers Bar window'.

Equally, irritatingly, gas masks always had to be carried, which was recorded in a photograph of infants lined up to view a Heversham wedding in June 1941 - twenty months after the war started.