MEMORY LANE: Highlights from the Diss Express in October 1939

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Diss historian Dennis Cross has supplied a selection of Diss Express newspapers from his collection.

In this edition, from October 13, 1939, the paper has its focus on the started of the Second World War. Not surprising, that the Diss Express had launched a regular feature called The War, From Day To Day. Britain had declared war on Germany a month earlier.

This edition included the news that British steamer Glenfarg had been sunk by a U-boat, with one man dying from wounds.

It also reported a speech by Hitler, in which he said: “There is no power in the world which can again bring us to our knees.

“Nobody can overpower us in a military sense nor bring about any downfall by psychological attrition. In no circumstances will the world see us capitulate.”

The section also explains how to send letters to those in the armed forces.

There was a column by Edgar Granville, a Liberal MP for Eye during the war. He died only in 1998, aged 100.

He himself had an interesting life history, serving in the First World War for Australia, being wounded in Gallipoli, and briefly served with the Royal Artillery in 1939-40.

He describes Hitler’s victory over Poland, then subsequent offer of peace talks, was an attempt “guard the loot”, as Mr Granville put it.

He sums up the choice surrounding Hitler’s peace offer succinctly. “We are offered reprieve from death and filth and mud for our sons; what must be our answer?”

Mr Granville’s answer was to entertain the peace talks, but only on Britain’s terms, and “place on Hitler the onus of rejecting them.” That way, Mr Granville said, it would “remove any doubts as to what we are fighting for, any misgivings about the justice of our cause.”

He warned that a conference on Hitler’s terms, that saw agreement, “would kill the will to resist Hitlerism”, and the danger that posed.

In that issue, the Express also re-printed a long article from September 11, 1914 as Diss readied itself for war, presumably as a reflection on the current situation.

Indeed, one section from that 1914 article stated: “If the German aggression was allowed to go on unchecked the future of Europe and the civilised world would be dark indeed.”

The parallels with 1939 were clear. The courts were starting to see cases related to the war.

Eye Borough Police Court heard that Russell Ruth, of Eye, was fined 30 shillings for using a motor vehicle at night, without screening his lights.

Diss Town Football club had “ceased all activities for an indefinite period”, owing to the war. Diss and District Angling club however decided to carry on with its winter pike programmes.