Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
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The Rise, and Decline, of Fanarchy
in the Face of Events


RAF Grade Card for Harry Turner, 1940

I register for military service at the end of 1940, have a medical on December 19th to find myself passed with grade A vision, despite specs worn to correct myopia, and duly accepted as fit for service in the Royal Air Force.

Armed Forces Certificate of Registration for Harry Turner

Most people are being called up within a month of receiving a medical, so I resign myself to going early next year. Which concentrates my mind on the Christmas holidays and the possibility of a visit to Glasgow to see Marion. I'd worked a week during my "summer holiday"; in return the firm now promise me an extended Christmas break—five days if I'm lucky, from Saturday the 21st through to Christmas Day.

Too bad I have to report back on Boxing Day morning, but I find there will be an overnight train from Manchester to Glasgow on the Friday night and one back on Wednesday night, which means I can spend the full five days in Marion's company, if she wangles extra time off.

A run of air raid warnings at home earlier in the month means I spend considerable time in the shelter, and correspondence tends to be scribbled by hand. Then things ease off, and during the lull, I catch the 1.10 am train from London Road Station as planned, arriving, after a tedious journey, at a wintry Glasgow, in the early hours of Saturday morning. I get a warm welcome at Burnbank Terrace; Marion has managed extra time off over the holiday period, and we have the whole five days together.

We catch up with news about friends, stencil pages for the next issue of Urania, the Junior Astronomical Association magazine, talk about books, play records, go to a concert, talk some more, visit T.L. Macdonald, head of the BAA Lunar Section... altogether a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Harry Turner & Marion Eadie, Glasgow, Xmas 1940
Marion F. Eadie and Harry Turner snapped by T.L. Mcdonald
in Glasgow, Christmas 1940

I doze fitfully on the journey home, vaguely aware that the train is merely crawling along between frequent stops. After some eight hours we have only reached Wigan; something is obviously amiss. We linger in the dark deserted station for an age before, with a sudden jolt, the journey is resumed at a snail's pace.

Rambling through sidings and following a decidedly circuitous route, we steam tardily into London Road Station, to discover that the Luftwaffe blitzed Manchester and Salford on the two nights of Sunday and Monday December 22 and 23, laying waste the city centre with high-explosive and incendiary bombs.

[From Manchester, Alan Kidd, 1993; pp. 193-4] The Manchester blitz undoubtedly destroyed much of the Victorian character of the central business district. The devastation permanently disfigured the face of Manchester. For three nights prior to Christmas 1940 the Luftwaffe dropped their incendiary bombs. Before dawn on Christmas Eve, after a second night of aerial bombardment, the whole city was lit by the inferno that ignited the magnificent warehouses of Portland Street and Mosley Street... the fire services could not cope and the Royal Engineers had been called in to blast fire breaks. Much of the old Market Place had been hit the previous night. Within a mile of Albert Square, 165 warehouses, 150 offices, five banks and 200 other business premises were destroyed or severely damaged.


Harry Turner's records destroyed by enemy action
The Luftwaffe bombs Harry Turner's registration records
but he hasn't been forgotten!

2 Feb Had word from Arthur (at Colwyn Bay) who is circulating a chain-letter, Fan Dance, five carbon copies are sent to five fans to fill in any news and then pass on to the next on the list. The sheets eventually return to Arthur, who writes a resume on the next set of letters he circulates. And so on. Linking a score of fans.

9 Feb Drawing Fantast cover - futurist landscape rising out of blitz. Used on March issue: ish also has Creed of an Atheist.

19 Feb Our romance front page news on Arthur's Fan Mail

FIDO for March 1941 also congratulates HT & MFE on engagement.

April Arthur's call-up to RAF - Sam Youd will continue Fan Mail

July... report of my meeting Ron Lane recently

2 August Eric Needham reported to RAF Padgate.

Letter 4 August: enjoyable weekend at Burke residence. Talkative weekend! See Sam's article in November Fantast for more details...

August FIDO... Mike asks about forming a Futurian Society of Great Britain? First ish of Zenith out mid-August.

Marion decides to get a job in Manchester and is actively co-opted on to Zenith editorial team.

21 September... informal London get-together, and some talk about reviving SFA

18 October ... informal get-together in Manchester at which Mike tried to rouse support for new fan organisation but met with much opposition, sparking off first stirrings of the Fanarchist movement...

There've been reports in Doug Webster's Fantast that ex-officials of the SFA resisted the attempt of Mike Rosenblum to form the new organisation on the grounds that it will only confuse matters when they revive the older organisation after the war... In view of the splits in Leeds fandom and the London take-over in the early days of the SFA, it strikes several fans that this is just another struggle between control-freaks. The reaction of Marion and me, and folk like Doug Webster and Edwin Macdonald, and John Burke was to oppose all efforts to organise British fans: we were in favour of the existing free and loose relationship, a state of fanarchy.


Feb 42 Zenith 4 issued - Ted Carnell's Sands of Time review.

Fantast July 42 - Eric Needham's In Search of a Sage reports that for DRS to describe his residence as being in Nuneaton is exaggerating slightly. "He lives in a small row of houses miles from anywhere" (This visit was in February). Also comments about exSFA officials noted above. And BOYCOTT ads... etc.

July 42 FIDO... editorial announces that BFS commences operations from 1 July. Goes on about "Fantarchy", suggesting it might be incorporated as a sort of opposition...
Stop press dept reviews Zenith 5 (April) Londonletter mentions plans to have London visit Sid, Doug, MFE & HT McIlwain... June Z well in hand, and enlarged anniversary issue planned for August...
Guess we got that little too complacent: my call-up has been deferred so long it begins to seem as if it'll never happen.
We plan to get married in July, date tentatively fixed for 25th(?) Then disaster strikes when my call-up papers arrive for that date.
Hastily switch plans get married on 18th before I go into RAF.

Letter from Marion 26 July... Web & Sid call and learn I've been whipped away, and hopes of London visit now dashed. ■

[below] The RAF sabotages the wedding plans

Harry Turner finally called up in 1942

one of a series of occasional pieces published by the Septuagenarian Fans Association, September 1998
© Harry Turner, 1998.

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