A 53-year-old gavel has resurfaced and brought with it a fascinating history that binds together the English city of Hull, World War II, and Miss Wagga Wagga 1964.
Ronda Lampe (née Platts) was crowned Miss Wagga on New Year’s Eve of 1963 in front of a huge crowd gathered for the ceremony on Robertson Oval.
In addition to receiving a £250 wardrobe, £150 spending money, and her very own diamond watch, Ronda was also treated to a seven week round-the-world trip.
She stopped in New Jersey, Bangok, Paris, London, Singapore, and Rome, but Ronda said the most important stop of her trip was a visit to Hull – an English city that forged a special relationship with Wagga during WWII.
“Hull was the second largest port in England at the time, and it was in direct alignment with Germany, and German bombers are not going to fly around England and then come back with bombs,” Ronda said.
“If they had bombs and wanted to get rid of them, Hull was the last part of England they were flying over.”
We can't really begin to comprehend what it would be like to live in a city that is bombed - I imagine it's a frightening experience.Ronda Lampe, Miss Wagga Wagga 1964
Hull’s status as a large port town combined with it’s unfortunate position meant that the city was often hit twice during the devastating bombing campaigns that characterised WWII.
The effects were disastrous; records show that 1200 people were killed and 86,715 houses were damaged in Hull during the six year war, leaving only 5945 residences unscathed.
Hearing of the distressing scenes unfolding in Hull, the local community in Wagga reached out in support and began a very long-distance friendship.
“The citizens of Wagga sent food parcels during the war to Hull in England, and there was a plaque in the city council from the citizens of Hull thanking Wagga for sending them,” she said.
Ronda recalled receiving a warm welcome from the residents of Hull, who still very much remembered the help generously offered by Wagga just two decades earlier and offered the gavel as a token gift.
“It brought back memories I think for the older people, and they were just so appreciative because I guess we can't really begin to comprehend what it would be like to live in a city that is bombed - I imagine it's a frightening experience,” she said.