Saturday, 3 December 2011

From J Samuel White's to Wellington Bomber...

Picture from Bartie's Postcards

In this entry in my father's wartime journal dad remembers the start of his working day and some of the personnel at J. Samuel White & Co, shipbuilders on the Isle of Wight.

Entry 9 - February 9th

Today we have been flying. As I pulled on my flying boots and Mae West through my mind flew retrospective thoughts of home. I imagined myself back at work. Nine o'clock a busier hum would settle over the office. The late arrivals, drawing off their coats, would break into spasmodic chatter with their bench mates, leavened with chaff. Then Mr Parker arrives, briskly throwing out 'good mornings' on either side. Les and I would break up our huddle and with a sigh return to the common basis of work. Others, watching the censorious glance of Mr Parker, would carefully fold their 'Telegraphs' or 'Mirrors', according to age or taste, and emerge from their day dreams, dropping their castellated visions to grapple once more with reality. By the time Mr Brading arrives another day has begun.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

Index to the journal:


nevell said...

Er... Mae West? Please explain! (My vest??)

Peter Banks said...

Mae West was a well endowed American actress and the life vest acquired this popular rhyming slang in ww2. Wikipedia has this entry under her details:

During World War II, Allied aircrew called their yellow inflatable, vest-like life preserver jackets "Mae Wests" partly from rhyming slang for "breasts" and "life vest" and partly because of the resemblance to her torso. A "Mae West" is also a type of round parachute malfunction (partial inversion) which contorts the shape of the canopy into the appearance of an extraordinarily large brassiere.

So now you know!


nevell said...

Thanks - she's got a lot to answer for! (I thought Google was just having a hiccup)
Where was/is the shipyard on the IOW?

Peter Banks said...

Whites shipyard was in the North of the Island, both in West and East Cowes which are on the respective banks of the River Medina. A large, iconic crane is still there, albeit in a parlous state. I took a pic earlier this year which will be in the next (and final) episode of Dad's journal.

Best, PB