Book tells of village's effort at home and abroad
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
EVENWOOD’s contribution to the Second World War effort has been documented in a new book.
Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day was produced by Evenwood and District History Society to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE and VJ days during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Along with documenting personal stories of people who fought in the war and those who supported the war effort, the book also shows how the village commemorated the significant anniversaries while restrictions where in place.
Brian Carter, of the society, said: “Kevin [Richardson] with his expertise has done all of the Army stuff. It is really excellent – a mix of the past and present. We are quite pleased with it.
“It records things that went on in the village and people who pertain to it.”
Jackie Dodds, also from the society, said one of the characters who feature in the book is the village’s only known surviving veteran of the war, 98-year-old Victor Brown, who lives at Evenwood Gate.
She added: “He and Kevin have been in good contact – he is absolutely brilliant.”
Fittingly Mr Brown is listed on the very last page of the book, alongside a poignant black and white photograph of two toddlers looking over the village’s war memorial during the anniversary commemorations.
A section of the book reveals the true horror of war as it covers the story of Allen Armiger, who sadly died before the history group was formed. His story was told from interviews with family and friends.
Mrs Dodds said: “He was POW on the Burmese railway. Allen saw the atom bomb being dropped on Japan and he suffered radiation burns – it is a real horror story. He was taken to America for treatment, then he married a local girl and moved to the village.”
She added that Mr Armiger never fully recovered from the war and always wore long-sleeve shirts to hide his injuries. He would also leave a room whenever anyone talked about the Japanese or the war.
The society has also included those from Evenwood who joined the Aycliffe Angels.
Mrs Dodds said: “They were the people who worked in the munitions factory. It was quite a dangerous job making munitions – there were quite a few explosions in the factory.”
The war claimed more innocent victims, including a 17-year-old girl who died after being knocked down by an Army truck while walking from Cockfield to Evenwood during a blackout.
Mrs Dodds said: “She was another victim of the war.”
The initial publication of the book was made possible by a grant from former county councillor Heather Smith, but thanks to a donation from former resident and society supporter Joan Evans an additional ten copies were printed.
These have been given to the village schools and the local care home.
Another copy is kept at the Randolph Community Centre for people to browse through, while two are kept by the society to be used during displays and exhibitions.
Fittingly, copies have also been awarded to Mrs Smith and Mr Brown.
The society is currently working on a second book about how the village coped during the pandemic, which is expected to be published in August.