Happy Holidays from the Archive department! Today we’re bringing you an early present in the form of Document of the Month! Let’s unwrap this Christmas edition of Lucas Reflections in-house magazine and have a deep dive into what the holidays brought in 1938.
Firstly, we have to take a moment to appreciate the front cover of the magazine. The beautiful simplicity of red and white is an eye-catching and festive thematic colour choice. It also makes the black and white cover photograph pop! In the image we see a woman looking out of a car window, her makeup and hair immaculate (in keeping with the time) and a cheery smile on her face. To top it off we can see the decorative stars and festive candles against the red backdrop and the heading reading "A Merry Christmas"– yep, it's definitely feeling like the festive season now!
Contextually, 1938 would have been a strange year and people would have likely been forgiven for not feeling festive at all. War, whilst not officially announced until 1939, was definitely in the minds of the public. Perhaps it was even more so prevalent for the workers at Lucas factories as the Reflections magazine mentions that Air Raid Precautions (ARPs) were regularly undertaken. The article dedicated to ARPs reminds the reader of their importance 'in order to deal effectively with possible hostile aircraft'. The article then reels off comforting statistics for each Lucas factory; for example, the Great King works in Birmingham had 17 trained instructors and 495 people trained in First Aid, Wreckage, Fire, Decontamination, Evacuation and Service Maintenance Work. It also mentions that ARP lectures and practical tests were frequent at this factory.
Another article in the magazine reflects on Christmas day in 1916 as experienced by Corporal G.T. Boyt. He spent this Christmas in France serving alongside his fellow soldiers during the First World War. He describes the cold snowy conditions but states that he was relieved to be out of the firing line on Christmas day at least. Boyt expresses that 'the peace of Noel seemed in the air' and that they spent the day singing Christmas songs and even managed to enjoy a Christmas dinner. Boyt also notes that throughout the day the 'the guns were not "busy" on either side' perhaps highlighting a more human aspect in the midst of war.
Arguably the looming presence of war is the reason why this issue emphasises the particular aspect of peace over the holiday period. The Directors' Christmas Message acknowledges that 'the majority of us will not be sorry to bid farewell to 1938' as it brought 'repeating crises, culminating in the horrible threat of war'. However, they then thank the loyal service of all their staff and praise the confidence in Lucas overseas trade partnerships, noting that 'Trade and commerce is a great harbinger of Peace'.
Finally, we will leave you with the opening sentiments from this issue of Lucas Reflections. It was a poignant message in 1938 but is just as applicable in present day: 'When we look back upon the past year – we recall pleasant things as well as the gloomy ones – then we remember the precious moments it has given us; a smile that is cheery, music that has uplifted, the reward of attainment; and in these memories we realised that life, after all, has not been too difficult'. The holidays are a great time for reflection, thanks, peace, good will and kindness and we wish you all of these things going into 2023. Merry Christmas!
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