My grandfather was a farmer all his life. He had been brought up on various farms while he was growing up, and my father, aunt and uncle were all born on farms. In 1938, Grandpa took over the lease on a farm in Laughton (a lease that my Uncle still has today) from the St Leger family (after whom the St Leger horse race was named), and to make ends meet while he was building up the farm, he worked on the land and down the mine. This wasn't as uncommon as it sounds; my other grandfather spent his days down the pit in order to fund his way through night school and get his chartered surveyor’s certificate. When the war broke out in 1939 Grandpa’s land work and mine work were both reserved occupations, which meant that he couldn’t join up, and instead stayed home doing his bit for the war effort through his two jobs.
During the Battle of Britain in 1940, Sheffield was a major target because of all the steelworks and the heavy manufacturing plants that dominated the city at that time. On the way back from a bombing raid a Nazi pilot suddenly decided to drop two bombs on Laughton. (The general theory was that he had two bombs left and he just happened to lose them over the village as he was passing. The bombing of Laughton was actually mentioned by Lord Haw Haw in one of his radio broadcasts during the war.) One of the bombs landed in a field away from the houses and did very little damage, and the other one landed in the fields at the back of my grandpa's farm, and for some reason didn't explode. While the air raid wardens were making sure that everybody stayed clear away from the bomb and informed the relevant authorities, the bomb was still lying in the back of Grandpa’s farm. My grandfather decided to take matters into his own hands. He coolly attached the bomb to the back of one of his tractors and towed it away from the farm to one of the more isolated fields away from the village. The bomb squad duly came and defused the bomb, and Grandpa was given a medal for his bravery. My uncle still has the medal and a copy of a photo showing Grandpa on the tractor and the bomb attached behind him. When we were kids my grandfather would still launch into the story of the time he towed the bomb away. --James Turner