Bombs dropped in the ward of: Brockley
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Brockley:
- High Explosive Bomb
- Parachute Mine
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
Memories in Brockley
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by bettyr (BBC WW2 People's War)
The war really started for me on 1st September, 1939. I was 23 when I was called up to start work on the First Aid Post in Airdrie, a large town in central Scotland where I had been brought up by my grandmother, two aunts and my father since my mother had died when I was 5. I had a sister and a brother. They were younger than me. My sister was a telephonist and my brother was in the Air Force in Iraq and my father had been a master butcher who had died exactly a year earlier. My mother had been a teacher before she married during the Great War. I had left school at 18. I had always been considered very bright at school and won several prizes in English, History, Art, Geography and Bible at Airdrie Academy. It was a very good school, where the teachers had helped me to know what I wanted to do and I would have liked to have gone to university or art school but it was going to be too expensive. At that time I was working as a sales girl and sometimes a model for a prestigious shop in Glasgow.
I had taken a course in First Aid because the year before the threat of war had been widespread. Prime Minister Chamberlain had gone to meet Hitler and came back with a promise of peace. We just could not visualise war. We who had been born during or since the Great war thought people could never go through another one. In spite of everything we actually had another war.
The very next day it was declared when we were at church. We did not realise then how our lives were going to be changed. The First Aid Post in Airdrie was in the basement of the Town Hall which was the biggest and grandest building in the town. It had all been rigged up for the purpose so I became one of a team of people who were going to run this Post night and day in case of danger from air raids. We were divided into 3 teams of 4 or 6 First Aid workers and a Nursing Sister was in charge of all of us. All the doctors in the town were on call and one of them supervised. There were also lots of volunteers who would come in for a time. Our teams were on 3 shifts - 2pm till 10pm, 10pm till 6am and 6am till 2pm. We had one room prepared with hospital beds to be used if necessary. We were paid £2 a week which we thought was quite reasonable at that time.
You see nobody knew exactly what was going to happen. We had training courses from time to time supervised by one of the doctors and every large town was supposed to have a First Aid Post. Nobody knew exactly what would happen if war came, as it did. Eventually we had to join the Civil Nursing Reserve and had a little training in hospital and then we took turns in attending the surgery of one of the doctors connected to the Post. We helped by taking off bandages and applying ointment and, if necessary, rebandaging. Some of the doctors had large queues waiting for them. There was no NHS in those days. Most of the patients were 'on the panel'.
One night fairly early on in the War was quite exciting. We suddenly heard loud banging. This is it, we thought, but it didn't come nearer to us. We heard later that we had been hearing the bombing of part of Glasgow but mainly the other side of the Clyde. The towns of Clydebank and Dalmuir were badly bombed. Lots of volunteers turned up that night in case we needed help with the casualties but alas we only had one casualty - a man who had been crossing a field got a piece of shrapnel in his head.
In the days and months that followed things got rather monotonous although in 1940 there was bombing going on in other places. I saw my boy friend as often as I could although only on his leaves because in 1939 he had been called up to serve in the Seaforth Highlanders and he was sent to Fort George, near Inverness, for training.
Then in April or May 1940 I had a letter from him informing me that he was going overseas without any previous leave but a day or so later I got a phone call from the south of England to say they could not land in France and had to return. That was at the time of Dunkirk. Actually the rest of his battalion had been sent earlier and he could not go for he'd been sent to hospital with an abscess in his tooth. That battalion formed part of the rearguard action that held the Germans up while our troops were being taken back from Dunkirk. They were all either killed or taken prisoner but my boy friend was saved. I saw him on various occasions in different parts of the country until 1941 when we got engaged but did not mean to marry until after the War.
As time went on we were getting quite blasé at the First Aid Post. Nothing seemed to be happening. Sometimes we were allowed to go up to dances in the main Town Hall where dances were still held. Also there were often medical students and some young policemen who came in on night shifts and played cards with us.
Then we heard that they were going to call up girls from the age of 21 and I did not relish waiting till then to be sent, as like as not, to a hospital. I felt I wanted to do something more exciting and so did another girl. We went into Glasgow to join the WRENS. Alas they were full up as were the WAAFS so we joined the ATS. We joined up on 10 July 1942 and were sent to Dalkeith Abbey for initial training and at the end of that time we had a test to see what branch of the ATS would be most suited to us. I had fancied The Signals as the other girl had got into that but they asked me if I would become a Fire Control Operator. I did not know what it was but I said all right. Only 6 people were chosen for this. We were asked if we would volunteer for a gun site so we did. I did not realise that I would be operating a radio-location set that gave information to the guns so that they could shoot at the planes that were carrying out a raid. This is now known as Radar but it was very secret at that time.
My fiancé had warned me against volunteering for anything but I thought it seemed exciting. When he knew I had volunteered for this he asked if I'd marry him on his next leave. This I did but first I travelled to London with a Sergeant and 5 other girls and then we proceeded to Devizes in Wiltshire for training in our job. We had part of the Battery with us - only the ones who would help us in the job we'd have to do. We did not realise that we were considered to be the élite of the ATS.
I did enjoy my time there. We learned about electricity and wireless signals and how to work the sets which were in a revolving hut in an open area surrounded by wire mesh (for reflecting any signals from the planes). We were divided into sections of 6, No.1 in charge, No. 2 for range, No. 4 for bearing, No. 5 for angle of the plane we picked up. It appeared like a dark mark moving towards us. We had to keep it accurately on the cross wire of a cathode ray tube by winding the handle of the respective tubes. The information these tubes gave went through cables to the Command Post where the officer in charge interpreted the information and, according to the weather, gave the fuse to men on the 4.5 gun. I was sometimes No 4 for bearing or No. 5 for angle and occasionally I helped in the Transmitter as the No.3 who with No.6 started the generator and sent out signals to search for planes. It all sounds very complicated but really it was quite efficient and exciting for us. We had to learn all about this at Devizes, how it worked and what all the equipment was used for and even how to replace it and if necessary how to put it out of action. We were supposed to be intelligent enough to understand all this. We were often being sent on courses on various things like Aircraft Recognition or even something quite secret at the time about Radio Location. We were supposed to be the brainiest of the ATS. Our No. 1 had been to Oxford. We did not do any fatigues like the others but we had to learn how to do maintenance on our sets.
At the end of our time in Devizes we left to join the rest of our Battery in Anglesey in North Wales. After a month's practice there with the guns and a plane we left for a gun site in SE London. At Grove Park (near Lewisham) where we were all set to go into action when necessary.
During this time I got married from Anglesey on my compassionate leave from there and after 2 weeks I joined the rest of my battery at Grove Park. My grandmother had died just before that at the age of 92 so my aunts and the rest of my family were very much upset by this. She always said she would live till my brother came back from Iraq and she did for he returned shortly before he died. Also my husband had developed a medical condition in the Army which meant he was no longer A1 and liable for service abroad so I saw him on our leaves which were always at the same time. We were stationed for a short time in Grove Park and then half the Battery moved to Brockley Park near Forest Hill. The other half went to Woolwich.
At first we had lots of mock raids when we went into action as though it was the real thing. You see the bad bombing which had happened in 1940 had stopped. Hitler had other things on his mind. We were getting really fed up with all these mock raids and our section was not on duty every night. Every so many days we had to go from our usual hut to the Manning Hut and stay there for 24 hours during which time we'd be ready to run out to the sets should a raid actually take place. Then one night when I was on duty the alarm came and this time it was the real thing. We were the first section to be on duty when the second blitz started in 1943.
We were all so excited. We were actually 'in action' We were not allowed to be on all night but had to change over with another section after we had been on duty for a certain time. I can not remember haw long it was but you could not expect anyone to remain accurate for a long time. I did not like going on or off duty during a raid in case of flying shrapnel in spite of our steel helmets. This lasted for a time when the weather was good and we were ordered to bed in the afternoons so as to be ready at night.
London was really a sight during a raid There were balloons all over London and they were lit up by the searchlights and you could hear guns firing right round London from gun sites and rocket sites as well.
We did actually bring down a plane. The pilot had baled out and was trying to escape by jumping over gates and hedges outside the camp when he was caught. He had actually stayed in that district before the war.
By the end of this year I heard that my transfer had come through. Since my husband had been stationed in the Orderly Room at Perth I had applied for a transfer to Scotland and a girl who had wanted one to London and could do my job would also transfer.
In a way I was sorry to leave London and all my friends, not only in the Army, for I had got friendly with some civilians in Forest Hill and my friends and I had several good weekends and 24 hours leaves. Then after I had been in hospital for a week near Sidcup I got a weeks leave and I spent it in a cottage in Overstrand near where my husband was stationed. One night we heard many planes going over and bombs being dropped. I was absolutely terrified mainly because I had not heard any sound of guns firing at them. The next day we heard that the planes had been ours and they had been dropping surplus bombs at sea. We also had very enjoyable Saturday nights at the NAAFI hops which were held every Saturday. One of the things I did at Brockley was to paint the dining room light shades. One of the officers had learned that I was artistic and wanted to make our quarters slightly cheerier. I also was asked to paint the blackouts which covered the windows of our hut. The blackouts were painted cream so I got a big tin of brown paint and copied some photos of Blair Atholl where I had spent my honeymoon. They were very much admired and once a Brigadier came round inspecting our quarters and she delightedly said that she had been there.
When I was transferred from London I was sent to a unit near Edinburgh. I was sorry to leave my friends but made lots of new ones in my new quarters. I still kept up with my London friends and heard that early in 1944 the blitz had started again. This time though the bombs were different. They were unmanned. I heard that our site had been bombed and that the girl who had exchanged with me was made stone deaf. The rest of the unit - indeed most of the London people on gun sites - were transferred to Dover to intercept the bombs as they came over the coastline. Eventually the whole Battery went over to Brussels. This is what lots of the girls had been longing for.
In the meantime I saw my husband at weekends and leaves when I moved to Scotland and by July I had left the Army - I was pregnant and I gave birth to my elder son on Christmas day 1944. My Army career was over and my new life as a civilian had begun.
My life in the Army had mostly been enjoyable. I made some good friends and saw places I might not have seen. During my time at Brockley there were some boring times when nothing much seemed to be happening but one of the enjoyable times was when we were taken up to Whitby for a change. We had daily firing practice from the top of the cliff after we had marched every day up the 200 steps in full kit. We stayed in hotels on the front and enjoyed our time off looking around Whitby and neighbouring places.
Well at last we had almost come to the end of the war which had swallowed up our youth. I remember going with my sister to attend the bonfire in Airdrie to mark the occasion. My husband was demobilised in February 1946 and thus we started on a new and very enjoyable life as a married couple but I cannot say truly that I regretted my time in the British Army.
Contributed originally by hemlibrary (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was submitted to the Peoples War web site by Hertfordshire Libraries working in partnership with the Dacorum Heritage Trust on behalf of the author, John Greener. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
Air Raid Precaution Units were made up of volunteers with various skills that could be used to recover people from the effects of aerial bombardment, and to give them emergency care until the rescue service could reach them. Such skills which they provided were for example; First Aid; Building and Demolition trades.
It was due to the skills of demolition workers that my Mother's life was saved when our house was demolished by a Rocket in 1944. My family home was at No. 90 Shardloes Road, New Cross. I was serving in the army in Burma at the time
and I remember my Commanding Officer asking me if I wanted to return home. I declined his offer because, having told me that my mother was safe and well, albeit in hospital, I realised that there was nothing I could do to improve her
circumstances if I were to return home. Thankfully, my Mother made a full recovery from her injuries.
Other important jobs to be done in the ARP control point were: Warden Control; Administration; Clerical and Typing work; and very important, Tea making.
There was always a welcoming cup of hot tea waiting for us when we returned to the control point. Each incident had to be recorded with Date, Time and Place. Every person rescued alive and those who were dead had to have their details recorded. Sometimes it was not easy to recognise the dead.
The control point I was attached to was set up in a local builders yard which belonged to Mick McManus, a well known middle weight wrestling champion,
Another important arm of the ARP were Cycle Messengers who with their detailed knowledge of the local district were able to deliver messages to other units. They were able to guide Rescue Services to those needing immediate aid. Their knowledge of the district and the quickest way to contact the Fire and Ambulance services; Hospitals and Doctors Surgeries, proved invaluable when telephone lines were destroyed.
Each London Borough had its own teams of ARP Control points who monitored the fall of bombs and the location of demolished properties so that they could direct the Rescue Services to places where people were known to have taken shelter when the Sirens sounded.
When war was declared at 11.00am on Sunday 3rd September 1939 I joined the ARP and became a Cycle Messenger, much to the consternation of my mother, who thought that I would be much safer at home taking shelter under the kitchen table. But I felt much safer out of the house where I could find my own shelter when the bombs were dropping.
My mother had a job with the local Money Lender as Receptionist, Clerk and Tea maker. She worked in a very pleasant office and enjoyed her work. My Step-Father worked for Southern Railway at Angerstein Works, Woolwich where he was a Semi-Skilled machine operator.
The pattern of my daily life soon fell into a regular routine. I would return home from work at 5.30. have my dinner then go to night school from seven until nine, and then be ready to set off to my local ARP control point to report for duty when the air raid Sirens sounded.
If it was a quiet night I would go off to meet my friends where we would spend the evening in the local Pub or some one's house. I remember with fondness my friends who were a pretty diverse bunch but we had a lot of fun together. Most of them are now dead, unfortunately. In particular I remember my two closest friends who were like me, an only child, so we had something in common. They were, George Nix and Ken Mullins both accomplished musicians. George played Piano and Ken played Saxophone and Clarinet. They formed the basis of a band which played at local functions, I
cannot play any instrument, much to my regret, so I became their agent, getting Gigs and buying their sheet music. We also recruited a Base Guitarist to our group, he had a hunch back due to deformity in his spine I cannot remember his name but I do remember him as an extrovert, a fine musician, with a great sense of humour,
When Harry Roy and his band visited the New Cross Empire he invited people from the audience to go on stage and conduct his band in a comedy sketch. Our friend took up the challenge, the result was hilarious with the musicians playing in different timing to the conductor. I never saw him after this, unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident while I was in the army. But, I shall never forget that night.
I became friendly with a Drummer, Eric Saunders, who had two sisters, Dorothy and Joyce. Their mother thought that Dorothy and I might develop a close relationship but I was not aware of her feelings toward me, and in any event, I would not consider a relationship during war time. The Saunders owned a Sweet and Tobacconist shop in Brockley and this became the focus for our social activities.
The shop had a large cellar, which we cleared out and decorated so we had premises for a club. Friday night was music night when we would join thousands of other listeners to the wireless for our weekly session of dancing to Victor Sylvester and his orchestra. Through the wireless he taught us the basic steps of Ballroom dancing. Each week there would be a different step in the dancing repertoire. He received many letters from people who wanted a particular dance, mostly Latin American, which was very popular at the time. He gave us many hours of pleasure.
Mr Saunders was a professional violinist and became a great help in setting up our club. He introduced us to the music of Stephane Grappelli, probably the greatest Swing and Jazz violinist of our time. It was here that we organised our activities and played out our parodies to mimic the times.
During the Spring, Summer and Autumn months, if the weather was fine, we would walk to Hilly Fields where we played cricket or football. We each had a bicycle and sometimes we would ride to another park for a change of scenery. One of our friends had a Tandem and on long rides such as a trip to Southend I would take the rear seat. Probably half a dozen of us would go off for the day, taking a picnic lunch to eat on Southend Pier, after a play on the beach and a swim in the sea we returned home. There was very little motorised traffic on the roads at that time and we felt no danger in cycling that far. It is not a journey I would fancy doing today. Unlike to-days youngsters we had very little money but we had tremendous fun.
As an alternative to the club we would go for a drink at our local pub 'The Wickham Arms'. Although we were under age for Pub drinking the son of the Publican was a member of our club so his mother, who was the Landlord, allowed us to sit in a corner out of the way of other drinkers and drink our half pint of beer, at that time the most popular drink for young lads was Brown Ale.
In spite of the war, in those early years, we spent many happy hours particularly in the winter, in the warm cosiness of the Wickham Arms planning our future activities.
During the years '40' and '41 at the height of the London Blitz my mother would make up a bed for me under the Dining Room table a large wooden structure which she thought would save me if the roof fell in but I wasn't so sure so when the air raid sirens sounded I would be off to the ARP centre ready for duty. At this time I had my job with TELCON from 9.00am until 5.00pm. Sometimes, if I had been busy during the night I found it difficult to stay awake during the following day so I used to spend my lunch hour in the office toilet where I could have almost an hour's uninterrupted sleep.
The weather played a great part in the level of ARP activity. If it was raining heavily or snowing the Germans stayed at home, which meant we had a night off. So, there was very little activity during the winter months. During the early years of the war, 1940 and 1941 London was heavily bombed day and night with High Explosive and Incendiary bombs, particularly, the docks area on the River Thames.
Fortunately, Greenwich was South East of the city centre where the main London Docks were so we did not suffer as much bombing as they did, but I watched the dog fights between the German and British aircraft as they were played out over southern England during the summer of 1940. This was the Battle of Britain.
As an ARP messenger I had my share of incidents the most common when I fell into a shell hole that I hadn't seen in the dark, sometimes there would be water in the hole and I would finish my duty soaking wet, apart from a few cuts and grazes I didn't suffer any major injury.
From my house or the factory I could see the fires from the blazing docks which cast a pall of smoke over the river. I remember the first day of the London blitz it was 7th of September 1940. A date ingrained in the memory of anyone who lived in London at that time. The closest and biggest single tragedy that I remember was when a High Explosive bomb dropped on Woolworth's store in New Cross Road, over a hundred people were killed, this became the largest single incidence locally, of the war.
I served in the ARP until I was sixteen years old when I realised there was a much bigger job for me. However, at such an impressionable age the sights and sounds of those far off days have made sure that I never forget what the people of London went through to ensure that Britain will never give in to tyranny.
THE HOME GUARD
I had reached the age where I felt that I should be doing more for the war effort, so I joined the Home Guard. A unit had been formed at the Telcon Works at Greenwich. Because, geographically, we were in the county of Kent our parent Regiment was The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Our Commanding Officer was one of our own factory managers who had ended his service in the First World War with the rank of Major, so he was naturally, given command of our unit. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name, but I do remember him to be a very kindly gentleman whether at work or on parade.
When the Home Guard was first formed it was known as the LDV(Local Defence Volunteers). The only defence we had at the time were wooden dummy rifles, we were taught basic military skills such as marching and rifle drill, self defence and fire drill. We paraded once a week for training. Our duties were guarding the rear of the Works because of its easy approach from the river, and the threat of invasion made us particularly vulnerable.
We also did our share of Fire Watching and putting out Incendiary Bombs. I remember the visit to the Works by HRH The Duke of Kent which took place the day following a night aerial attack on the factory in which a bomb destroyed the high frequency furnaces. Fortunately the night shift had been cancelled so nobody was injured. The Factory was working again within twenty four hours although the employees suffered considerable discomfort through exposure to the weather until the roof was repaired.
Production in the Works was often disrupted due to daylight air raids. When the Siren sounded we used to leave our offices and machines and gather in a part of the Works which was deemed safest for the employees. There were other parts of the Works that had been made as safe as possible so that we didn't all congregate in the same area.
Air raids offered an opportunity to take a break from our work, to rest and relax as much as possible. It was at such times that I learned to play Bridge, which I found to be an absorbing card game. Although the Works were on the German flight path to the London Docks I don't ever remember the Works being bombed during daylight hours. The German bombers made for the docks and the city a couple of miles up river from Greenwich. My service with Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company came to an end at the beginning of January 1942 when I left to join the Army.
Contributed originally by Eric Clarkson (BBC WW2 People's War)
This is an account of my experiences from 2 September 1939 through to mid-July 1940.
It all began in the last days of peace in 1939. We had been away on holiday at Barmouth for three weeks, that is my Dad and Mum, my brother who could only have two weeks holiday, a friend of ours Cyril Worsell, and my uncle Cyril and his son Trevor who was a little younger than me. We had had a good time learning to sail, going for long walks, and playing cricket on the sands. But the threat of war was always there.
All good things have to come to an end and so it was with this holiday. No sooner had we returned than I had to report back to school. School for me was what we now call year 12. I had not done very well in my General Schools exams in May 1939 and I was due to repeat the course work in my 6th year at Grammar School. School for me was Brockley County Secondary School in Lewisham.
“We had to report at school today and prepare for evacuation.” So reads my diary entry for 28th August 1939. Next day it reads “Did the same as yesterday, lot of Gas Mask drill” - I should add that we had had Gas Masks from the year before in 1938.
Friday 1st September the entry reads “Told this afternoon to prepare to evacuate the next morning”
So it was that some 250 – 300 boys assembled in the school hall and walked down to the local station at Ladywell. As I recall my mother was there to see us off. This would have been about 10.00 o’clock. At school we had been given a brown paper carrier bag, and we all had our Gas Masks and a medium sized suitcase which contained a change of clothes. In the carrier bag were things which were to keep us going until we got some food. The contents are, a packet of Rich Tea biscuits, some sandwiches, an apple and an orange, a tin of Condensed Milk, but best of all a big bar of chocolate.
Because I was one of the older children we didn’t need to have a label with our name on, it was assumed we knew who we were!
Once on the train you can imagine that we discussed among ourselves where we might be going. Well, the train puffed its way through many unfamiliar stations on the southern outskirts of London. All we could tell was that we were going in a southerly direction. Eventually after about two hours we drew into a small station called Jarvisbrook, its now called Crowborough. Lined up outside were a large number of country buses and into these we piled for onward move to our destination. This turned out to be Wadhurst a small village in E. Sussex.
On arrival, we then had a roll call to be sure that no-one has got lost on the way. We were told to wait outside the hall and await the billeting officer to come and allocate us to whoever were to be our hosts.
My friend Colin Boxall and I had agreed that if were possible we should stick together, but time went by and nobody came to pick us out. I expect that they took one look at us and thought we would take a lot of feeding.
Fortunately it was a lovely summer’s day and not unpleasant to be outside. About three o’clock a smart car drew up and a young man only a couple of years older than us came up to the billeting officer and asked if there were four boys together. Quick as a flash a couple standing near us, Charlie Rye and Geoff Roberts with whom we were fairly friendly, put up our hands.
Off we went, going back about two miles from the direction from which we had come. This young man was at University and training to be a Doctor. The car in which we were riding was a Triumph Vitesse which was quite a posh car for those days. Soon we were delivered to the front door of a big house called ‘Bensfield’
The lady who owned it was called Mrs Leete and it was her grandson who had picked us up from the village.
Once indoors were found the we has been allocated two bedrooms with twin beds in both, so Colin and I shared one room and left Charlie and Geoff to share the other.
At first we ate with the servants of whom there were five, three maids, a cook and a kitchen maid. Outside there were two gardeners who each lived in a semi detached house in the grounds of this very large house. It must have had at least 20 rooms besides the usual ‘offices’. There was also a chauffeur called Fillery who didn’t seem to care for us much.
At first we had our meals with the servants but Mrs Leete soon realised that this was not the best use of the space she had available especially as we needed room to do our homework. So she kindly let us have the use of her dining room.
We were fortunate because not only did we have plenty of good food but were very well treated. We even had the use of a half size billiard table and a table tennis table in the games room.
Some of our friends were not so lucky. In a few homes the food was neither good or plentiful. Some of our lads even found that they already had some occupants in their beds!
Mrs Leete like all other folk who had evacuees was paid 10/6 a week or 52 ½`pence in today’s money.This was paid by the Government
On Sunday 3rd September I went to the parish church in Wadhurst but we were only there for about fifteen minutes before a message was brought in to the Vicar saying that war had been declared and he said we should all go home. Shortly after leaving the church we heard the wailing sound of the Air Raid Siren and we all wondered what was going to happen. Actually the ‘All Clear’ sounded not long after. We had had the first of many false alarms.
It was some days before we went to school again. It seemed that no-one had told us that we should turn up on the Monday. In the mean time one of the gardeners decided that with these four lads he could occupy their time profitably in what hecalled ‘thistle dodging’ which meant going into one of the fields surrounding the house and chopping down thistles.
What we eventually found had been arranged was that three village halls had been hired, and these were used until we got a more permanent building in May 1940. The building which we used as a school was in Ticehurst a few miles farther on from Wadhurst and was called ‘Oakover’. It was in that building that I resat my exams and was pleased with my results when they were given as I had matriculated.
The winter of 1939/40 was very snowy and we found a toboggan in the garage and set about making good use of it. Unfortunately it was a bit old and one day as three of us were aboard we went over a hump and when we landed one of the wooden bars broke.
As we tumbled off I tore my trousers on the screwhead and had to get one of the parlourmaids to mend it for me which she did quite cheerfully. The cook was excellent and we really enjoyed the meals she prepared.
In May 1940 following the Dunkirk evacuation Mr.Anthony Eden made a broadcast asking for volunteers to form Local Defence Volunteer (LDV) groups. This name was later changed to the Home Guard. We were too young to join but we enrolled as runners. At first there were no weapons available but the day came when P.14 rifles arrived, theses used .303 ammunition but had been in store since the end of the 1st World War and were covered in thick grease. Fortunately we boys were excused the job of removing all the grease, that was left to the volunteers!!
The following gives an indication of the generosity of Mrs.Leete.
When we went to ‘Oakover’ in May 1940 Mrs.Leete was very concerned about our midday meal because there were no cooking facilities which could cope with 200 or so boys. We had to make do with corned beef and potato chips with an apple for desert. So she arranged that we should go to the local public house and made the proviso that we had a master who was willing to be with us. She paid for our meal,
which I think was 1/6p, but I think that Mr Walmsey had to pay for his meal himself.
Incidentally we became a co-ed school because Mr Walmsley’s daughter, Sonia was the only girl in the school and she also had her meal with us.
After I had left school I went back to see Mrs.Leete at least a couple of times but by then the school had been moved to S. Wales
I eventually left school in July 1940 and went back to London before the blitz started in September1940, and got a job with the Metropolitan Water Board ,but that’s another story.
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