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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 83 - An Easy War For Some

Simon Grimstone and Harry Clemence used the war to feather their nests rather than to join in the fighting.

John Waddington-Feather continues his absorbing tale of honour and dishonour - a tale set in a Yorkshire mill town. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

When he arrived back in Britain, John was posted to his old squadron. The country's war machine had geared up as the threat of Nazi Germany loomed larger. Planes rolled off the production line in greater numbers, and as the RAF frantically began training more pilots, John was promoted to senior training officer and made a squadron leader.

In the middle of June 1939, reservists were put on stand-by and the first conscripts called up. At the first hint of conscription Grimstone became a draft-dodger and got himself declared medically unfit for service double-quick, paying a consultant in Leeds to examine a heart murmur he had for years. When air-raid wardens were appointed, he became Chief Warden in Keighworth for the duration of the war, overseeing the blackout each night and a thriving black-market during the day as Director of Ration Supplies.

Harry Clemence did a runner, too, claiming exemption from the forces as managing director of Illingworths Mills, which had been put on a war footing and began producing shell-cloth and uniform lengths. He did very well, raising the output sufficiently to earn himself an M.B.E. by the end of the war. Illingworths landed some very profitable deals with the Ministry of Defence, which helped Clemence make useful contacts so that he made a fortune renting property to the army all down the Lancashire coast.

Like Grimstone, he had to appear before tribunal to get exemption. As the tribunal was composed of Grimstone's senior partners and fellow freemasons, Clemence's and Grimstone's exemptions went through on the nod, and none of the tribunal ever wanted for suit-lengths or rationed food again. Their needs were supplied on the nod, too. Men older than Clemence and less fit than Grimstone were being drafted into the forces when war broke out. In 1939 both Clemence and Grimstone were nearer thirty than forty and enjoying life to the full, thank you very much. As the war progressed, they enjoyed themselves even more.

Sir Abe volunteered for the Local Defence Volunteers, but was turned down on account of his age. He was pushing seventy,his heart was none too good, and he had aged noticeably. When they wouldn't let him serve in the Home Guard, he busied himself raising funds for servicemen and their families as president of the British Legion in Keighworth. He also made it his business to visit the families of those killed and those taken prisoner. On the outbreak of war,

Rosemary Clemence trained as an auxiliary nurse. Her family was growing up and once they were away at boarding school, she worked shifts at the local hospital.

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