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We got in the Swing on 4th July

Side bumps, Wraps, Dishrag, Windmill, Slide and Gumdrop were some of the swing dance moves that we were introduced to at the excellent Glen Miller evening held in Bawdrip Parish Hall.

A dedicated team had spent the morning transforming the whole of the hall. The entrance was suitably camouflaged - not so much down the Rabbit Hole as a 70 year time tunnel taking you back to 1944.  Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes were the order of the day and some ingenious reconstruction work had turned the bookstall into a makeshift air raid shelter – all that was missing was an air raid siren.  We did have two air raid wardens from Woolavington but they didn’t insist that we ‘put those light out’.  We also had a couple of US Airmen, an RAF Squadron leader complete with flying jacket and scarf, Mrs Mop, Matron and many others in authentic period dress (including inked on stocking seams!)

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For those who couldn’t remember there was a display of the weekly food ration – just 2 ounces of butter and tea, 4 ounces of bacon and ham for example.

A splendid supper was served and as it was the 4th of July we had hot dogs and apple pie with custard and plenty of Corned Beef and of course SPAM!  After eating the music started with all the classic Glen Miller tunes being played.

There was a quiz based on the Glen Miller story with a few period questions included – could you identify the aircraft from their silhouettes? Did you know where the Japanese signed the surrender document?  And of course did you know who had met Glen Miller in 1944?  Well the answer to that is Bandsman Bill!  As a junior bandsman he and his fellow bandsmen were asked to beat the retreat for the Americans. They were so impressed that the bandsmen were invited to a concert that evening.  Bill was intrigued to see the stands go up with the letters GM printed on them and then amazed to be entertained by the legend himself!  Many others there had other great stories to share of their memories of life in wartime Britain.

As the evening drew to a close it was time for Dame Vera to take over and bring on the community singing! Such was the enthusiasm we are tempted to do it all again!  Thank you to Sue and Pete for all the props and organisation and to all the other helpers and to all those who came a long to make it such a memorable evening.

As part of our fund raising we decided to split the proceeds equally between the church and SSAFA (approx £100 is going to each charity).  SSAFA  works in partnership with other military charities and specialist organisations to ensure that those who turn to them for help get the support they need. They support serving men and women, veterans and their families – to find out more check out their website

Report by Simon Peel