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Off To School




The Helmdon War Memorial has many names from the First World War but only one name on it commemorates a soldier killed in the Second.  He was Alfred George Humphrey of the Royal Artillery, who died on 01 January, 1945, aged 30. 

The Banbury Advertiser 15th January 1941


From Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

Family name: HUMPHREY Given name(s): Alfred George

Rank: Gunner Service No.: 1604983

Date of death: 01 January 1941 Age: 30

Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery 357

Battery, 114H.A.A.


Memorial: Helmdon Churchyard

Additional information: Son of Jonas & Lillie Humphrey of Helmdon

From Forces War Records

Family name: Humphrey Given name(s): Alfred George

Date of birth: C 1911 Age: 30

Resided Town: Helmdon Nationality: British

Date of death: 01 January 1941 Fate: Died at Edinburgh

Castle Military Hospital

Rank: Gunner Service No.: 1604983

Duty Location: United Kingdom


Alfred George Humphrey is commemorated on the village war memorial (and on the memorial in the church).



For further details about Alfred George Humphrey please go to www.helmdonhistory.com, select war memorial project, then scroll to nearly the end of the project.




Harold Seckington fought in the Second World War

Harold Seckington was born in February 1919 to Mildred (née Branson) and Richard Seckington.

He enlisted in the Army at the same time as Walt Southam, when they were seventeen and a half (Harold had to lie about his age), and was stationed initially at the Aldershot supply depot, organising the supply of petrol and provisions to the 100,000 service personnel.


He met Jean, who lived in Clitheroe, and married at Aldershot Parish Church in 1941. Following a short period at Barry in South Wales, he was posted to the advanced petrol filling station in Merthyr Tydfil and from there to Scotland. In 1942, he boarded a ship for a new posting in Singapore but the ship was rammed in dock and when they returned to shore, Harold was sent to Yorkshire. However, the men in the convoy that did go on to Singapore were immediately taken into a Japanese prisoner of war camp there. In November 1942 Harold was posted to Algiers to help supply the 6th Army Division with petrol. One month later, on 8 December, Jean, evacuated from London to High Wycombe, gave birth to their baby daughter, Patricia. He then had various postings to Northern Italy, (where he visited Fred Humphrey in hospital), Tunis, North Africa (where he was delighted to meet up again with Walt Southam) and Sicily, whilst Jean and Pat went back to Clitheroe. In Sicily, Harold was part of the Port Detachment Unit, looking after imports and exports and finally was posted to Naples for the last two and a half years of the war, where he was in charge of provisioning all the ships - a total of 73 berths in Naples Docks.

Whilst abroad, the army paid an allowance to Jean of £1 10s 0d for both her and Pat. Harold’s pay as a sergeant was 84s 0d (£4.20p) a week and as well as money, he was able to send luxury goods back to England, such as sugared almonds, oranges and lemons.

Harold was demobbed at Aldershot in 1946, having travelled back by train via Switzerland and France and started work as a signalman at the Helmdon’s top station. He was promoted to Woodford Halse as a Class 2 Relief - working anywhere between Culworth and Leicester. Harold and Jean settled in Helmdon and later in life traded at The Bungalow Stores at the top of Station Road.

The main effect of the Second World War on Helmdon villagers was that many families were without their menfolk and women were recruited to work on the land.

One of these was Vera Gibbons.  She came to work for Jim at College farm as a land girl, and in time Jim bought a cottage for her on Weston Hill which had belonged to Bill Wrighton. Vera is on the right

Jim Watson lived at Home Farm.”       We had to plough up most of the grass. We bought a Field Marshall tractor and two Fordsons.  We grew wheat and oats on the land at Brackley.  At harvest time, we had help from the army.  They sent two lorries and six soldiers so help cart the sheaves.  That year we have sixteen corn ricks, large ones and Tom Robbins and myself thatched all of them.  We stacked oats in the barn at Brackley.  At threshing time we had a load of land girls to help.  Being enclosed in a barn there were literally thousands of mice in these oats. Later we had prisoners of war, some German, some Italian.  Some were useless, but we eventually settled down with two Italians, Carlo  and Augustino.  They were nice lads and good workers.”

“During and after the war the ministry bought all the cattle for slaughter.  There was a certification centre at Brackley market.  The cattle were certified there and were then driven down to the Gasworks weigh bridge, weighed individually then loaded into wagons a the old station to be sent to the abattoirs. 

I must relate one amusing incident. We drove our cattle from Glebe Farm down the town to the market.  We had a large bunch one Monday.  Some bolted up the alleyway between the houses and on to the gardens behind.  I sent the dog after them.  I heard a lot of crashing glass and they came out.   One of them had a line of washing on his horns, sheets, petticoats, the lot.  We could not get them off until we got to market.  The Boss sent me back with all this washing and a ten shilling note to go and make peace with the residents.  There was a broken cucumber frame and two line posts down.  I settled for two pounds and had a glass of with these ladies.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Lyndsey Leeden Glassett interviewed Mary Turnham who lived for most of her days at Field View which was then a farm.  

“Mary Turnham’s grandfather, Arthur Humphrey, always visited his sister Miss Patty Humphrey (Mary’s Aunt Patty) and brother Ben every Sunday morning. This particular first Sunday in September 1939, her grandfather was at the "Lilacs" when he heard the news either by telephone or on the wireless, and he rushed back to tell the rest of the family that England was now at war with Germany. It wasn’t long after, that the village saw the first signs of war in Helmdon. Soldiers, barracked at Weedon Barracks, were seen ‘on manoeuvres’ for two days in the local fields with their wagonettes and horses.

Mary recalled how farming methods have changed drastically over the last fifty years, things were so different on the land then. Hoeing and thrashing were done by hand; there was stone-picking, thistle-scything, potato-picking, and cattle feed to be ground and the shire horses had to be taken to be shod. That said, many of the horses were conscripted into the army. It was a dreadful sight to witness the fear of the harnessed recruits being loaded into the trucks at the bottom station supervised by Geoff Wilks from Sulgrave and Doug Whitton. The recruited horses were mostly hunters and lightweight horses as the shires were still needed on the farms; there were not many tractors around in 1939! The hunters were to be used for pulling gun carriages and had never been used to harness, and Mary has often wondered what happened to all those beautiful, but terrified animals.”

In 1939, Mary worked in the family business. Her grandfather was an egg, butter and poultry dealer, and although semi-retired, kept the business going throughout the war, no easy task with all the rationing and coupons involved. There were such small amounts for the customers and after weighing out the butter and wrapping it, Mary used to cycle around the villages and sell it. Her grandmother kept chickens as well as pigs and Mary spent many hours washing out the "chitlins" (pigs’ intestines) in salt water. These were exchanged with neighbours like Mrs Hawkins - and vice versa when they had a pig killed. There was a small room in which hung bacon and great hams to dry. The bacon fat was made into lard - delicious it was too, on bread or toast.


Feeding the chickens

On the family’s very large allotments they grew swedes and mangolds (rarely seen now but used then to supplement the pig feed) and water was drawn from the well in the lane and served almost the whole of what is now called Field Way. (Street names, eg Wappenham Road, Field Way, Church Street, were given to various parts of the village after the end of the war.) The earth lavatory was situated in the garden and caused much comment from some of the people who lived with the Turnhams, either friends and family, or service personnel, billeted with them, who had never seen such a toilet before. It consisted of a plank of wood with one large and one small hole in it, with newspaper to read and use! In the dark hours, a candle was needed to find the way, and on windy nights it was often blown out!!

Before the war there were always two or three milk cows kept in the fields where Hintons Close now stands, so there was a constant supply of cream to make butter. During the war, milk was collected in a can, directly it had cooled, from Hill Farm and milk was also delivered around the village by pony and float from Jessetts at Lukes Farm. Many town folk were evacuated to Helmdon during the war and Mary and her grandmother had their fair Mary is on the right


In 1940, Mary joined the Women’s Land Army and went to work for Major Doyne at Lois Weedon House, doing general farm work and helping with the cows, which of course, were all hand milked. Her transport was a bicycle and she cycled everywhere. However, cycling to Lois Weedon in the blackout on a cold, frosty morning was a nightmare. Mary explained that she could not see the state of the roads from the thin glimmer of the cycle lamp she had to use. Often she walked across the fields with her dog, Vaux, in the really bad weather.

Because of conscription, extra manpower was needed and so German and Italian prisoners of war, who were based in a hostel at Sulgrave, also worked on the farm. Mary started work at 7.00 am and worked six and a half days a week throughout the war years. Life was hard but she also enjoyed a social life in spite of the disadvantages.

At Syresham, there was an Air Force cafe and at Wappenham an RASC depot. Visiting the service canteens with other Land Army girls, all of them in uniform, they were made very welcome - not quite the forgotten army in those days! Dances were regularly held in the hall behind the Bell here in Helmdon, and many village romances started here. Fund-raising concerts for the Red Cross were enthusiastically received, and happy hours were spent collecting hips from the hedgerows for bottling by the WI. They knitted scarves and socks and sent them off with their names and addresses tucked inside in the hope that they would get a reply! Mary corresponded for some time with two soldiers who replied and actually met one of them in Northampton.

Black-outs were always a nightmare. Mary remembers at the beginning of the war, hand-sewing yards and yards of stiff material to form curtains to hang at all the windows. Shutters were made for the windows on the old farmhouse.

There was a Sixth Light Infantry Searchlight Battery at Kiln Farm and some of the service personnel would regularly stay in the front room at Field View for their leave of one day or so at a time as travel was very difficult. Mary’s grandmother, who died in 1942, would feed them, dry their wet clothes and store clothes and personal belongings at the house. One of them had a piano accordion and Mary almost learnt to play it. She used to cycle up to Kiln Farm to collect their swill for the pigs, precariously balancing two buckets on the handlebars of her bike!

Good Friday was spent ‘primrosing’, a practice that is outlawed today! The family would go to Whistley Wood or Plumpton Wood and pick masses of primroses to decorate the house and church and give away to neighbours. On Sundays, Mary’s half day, the joint of meat and prepared Yorkshire pudding were taken in the early morning to the top of the lane (in what is now Jean Spendlove’s house) where Tom Needle and Harry Hawkins kept a large oven. It was collected at 12.30 pm for the traditional family lunch, which frequently included the families or soldiers staying with them.

Mary doubts that she would ever have left Helmdon if it had not been for the war; joining the Women’s Land Army and living in a WLA hostel in 1947, certainly gave her an insight of life outside Helmdon.

Cis Terrey  

“My life began on 1st October 1919 at "The Lilacs", Helmdon. Sadly my mother passed away 6 weeks later on 17th November. My father's sister came to look after my two sisters, brother and myself. She was widely known as "Aunt Pat".

At the age of 5 I started at the village Church of England School as it was then, but when the new school was built it changed to council. Life was happy then. My father was a sheep and cattle
dealer so we had plenty to do helping with the animals. We had our own donkey cart and later I used to ride a pony shepherding my brother. A familiar sight were the sheep and cattle being driven through the village. At the age of 11 I left Helmdon School and attended Brackley High School for Girls. We had to cycle through all weathers until I left at the age of 16 to help at home. A few years on and the rumbles of war. I joined the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) and won my badge and also a First Aid Certificate.

September, 1939, we were at war. Petrol, food and clothes were rationed. Our life had changed, the Blackout was in operation, troops were always on manoeuvres around, and at the age of 21 I was in the first women's Call-up. I joined the Women's Land Army and worked on the farm from morning till night, ploughing, sowing, reaping and mowing, etc. We had to plough up acres of our grassland.

Evacuees arrived in the village; a searchlight was installed in Wappenham Road. We were able to watch the soldiers trying to pick up the German Planes. A contingent of Canadian soldiers on manoeuvres rested for a while through the village. I had just milked our Jersey cows and carrying a pail of milk past the tanks they held out their mugs which I filled, and soon emptied the pail and also the cake tins.

We had a Prisoner of War camp at Sulgrave and I used to fetch the German prisoners to work on the farm. Some of them were good workers so we encouraged them with a little food, usually huge Yorkshire puddings, which they loved. We were working in the fields at Sulgrave when we invaded France. The sky was full of planes going over and they realised that something was going on. They were talking between themselves in German but we had to keep very calm.

The Home Guard used to have to guard the viaducts, as that line was a direct route for moving ammunition. We watched Coventry burning from the top of our field when the bombing was bad the village was lit with flares. On the lighter side we had some good entertainment with soldiers and airmen and often their wives. We were in the Reading Room on one occasion when news came through that the big battle ship the German Graf Spee had been sunk - there was great rejoicing.

The day we were waiting for at last arrived, with Churchill announcing on 8th November 1945 that the war with Germany was over. We had great rejoicing that night, and again 8th May, V.J. Day”.

 Noreen White

Noreen White (née Ayres) was born in 1920 and lived in Helmdon for most of her life. She had a brother, Jack, and a sister, Edith.

“During the Second World War Men & Women had to go in the Forces or Land Army or ammunition Factories ….. we also had lots of evacuees from the Towns also the army had search lights in a field down the Wappenham Rd, also the village had lots of Dances, Concerts to entertain the troops ….. the Dances was held in the Bell hut also in the Reading Room.

….. Had a clinic in the Reading Room in the early 1950s for Mums to take the Babies to be weighed and collect Welfare foods.



During the war we could see and hear the planes going over to Coventry when it was being bombed ….. we also had some bombs dropped up near the Viaducts, also one plane crashed about 8.30 am one morning down in a field at Astwell.”


Some of our reminiscences of the war come from evacuees to Helmdon

Malcolm Care was evacuated to the area from Folkestone first to stay with relatives and then to live on the Falcutt estate. 

“My aunt must have talked Captain Lees into the deal since that little house was a tied cottage, as it was unlikely that any of us could contribute anything on his farm.  However, it must be said that it had been condemned with its neighbours before the war and was being put into use again.  There was no electricity, no water on tap, and it had a backyard loo and wash house.”

During the first year in Helmdon, 1941/2, a whole ‘gaggle’ of evacuees arrived from London to live opposite us in one of the two stone built houses, also part of the Lees estate.  The Lees chauffeur and odd-job man was Mr Croutear who lived in the other two-storey unit with his wife and two children, Violet and Arthur.  The London kids were a revelation to the village youth and vice-versa.  Most of them had never seen a cow or a sheep and their reactions to village life, and now existing nightlife, was predictable.”

Alice Hearne

“When the Second World War started, Mrs Hearne evacuated to Helmdon with her daughters, and stayed initially with Frank Watson at the farm in Cross Lane. Her husband remained working in London and she and her youngest daughter returned to the city, as the anticipated heavy bombing did not materialise until after the fall of France. Then, fearing the worst, they returned to the safety of Helmdon.

Alice (right)  with  Mrs Ellen Elizabeth Gibbons.                                                             Photo  taken whilst on a trip to Hay on Wye.

Three years after the war started her sister-in-law, Lady Murray, was bombed out in Pall Mall in London and came to stay, also initially with Frank Watson, and eventually Mrs Hearne and Lady Murray together rented part of Fountain House. They had bedrooms, a sitting room and use of the kitchen. They were obliged to have lunch at midday in order that Mrs Barrett, the owner (and reputed to be related to the Barretts of Wimpole Street) could continue to eat at her regular time of 1 pm!

Food was more evenly distributed than in the First World War, and there were not so many shortages. The shop at 52 Wappenham Road run by Emily and Norman Watson was "very helpful" when there was anything over.

Mrs Hearne was a member of the "comforts" knitting group, which numbered about a dozen, and met at Miss Salmon’s house every Friday, and was run by Mrs Lees. They were supplied with khaki wool and knitted socks, balaclavas and the like for distribution to the soldiers. Members were presented with certificates at the end of the war to mark their efforts. She also took part in potato picking at both Frank and Luke Watson’s farms. Mr Hearne was occasionally able to visit, coming down directly from Marylebone and spending from midday on Saturday until the same time on Sunday, or occasionally until first thing on Monday morning.

Mrs Hearne cannot recall many other evacuees in the village, and apart from the Home Guard activities, including

After the war was over, Mrs Hearne and her family returned to London, finally  coming back to live in Helmdon upon Mr Hearne’s retirement in 1966.”

Joan McCann

“My father was Rector of Helmdon from March 1939 to December 1948, during which time the Second World War took place.  I was only six years old when we came to Helmdon to live but I couldn’t have spent a happier childhood anywhere else on earth.  I have always loved the place and it history and its people, especially, of course, the people who I grew up with – those residents of Helmdon now in their seventies and eighties who still live there.

I grew to love Helmdon, the place and its people, with a great passion.  I came to know every nook and cranny and all the close surrounding countryside.   I don’t know why the word Helmdon has such a magical effect on me.  It was so much apart of a wonderful childhood.  In my mind’s eye I walk the streets and lanes of Helmdon and remember it as it was in those days.  I see the brook where we used to paddle, the hedgerows where the birds nested.  I remember the dawn chorus, village pumps, the old Post Office (“Miss Shrimpton’s” as we called it), the school where I began my education and made friends with the children of the village.  There were three shops in those days, two public houses, and two railway stations.  The LNER station at the top of the hill in Station Road  and the LMS station where Jeff’s Coaches now stands.  Ken and John Jeffs were young children when we lived there, about the same age as my brother and myself.  Their father worked for Sam Walters’ bus service.  Sam’s wife was the village district nurse, a most important person who I think delivered a fair number of the babies born there at that time.

Derek Ratledge

In recent years Derek Ratledge has regularly visited Helmdon and he was instrumental in researching the histories of the men who died in the Astwell p-lane crash in 1943.   (See his articles on www.helmdonhistory.com)


When the war began he was a young child, living in Astwell.   “Astwell Castle farm on which dad worked was, as most in that area, mainly a mix of stock and arable providing most, but not all, of its own animal food crops. When dad first started work at Astwell farm well before I was born it was tenanted by first of all a Mr Timms,  then I think a Mr Emmerton, one of whom incidentally paid the wages in gold sovereigns (one sovereign being dad’s weekly wage at that time). The farm was later taken over by Mr Roberts who was the tenant farmer during the time that I lived there.


“During the Battle of Britain airplanes from many aerodromes nearby fought in the skies over the farmlands. On those fateful days the sounds and sight of Spitfires and Hurricanes were common over the farm and surrounding area. Bombing locally was rare and not premeditated as mainly the German bombers would release the loads they had been unable to drop on target. One such event was at neighbouring Astwell Park farm but luckily only a few farm buildings were damaged, unluckily though the farm stock bull was killed.

In the early days the war was something reported on the radio, however as time went by it became more obvious. Locally men would be seen digging long deep wide trenches at the bottom ends of their gardens covering them with logs of wood, soil and corrugated iron sheets, then more soil, and soldiers appeared and, of course, the Home Guard.


 The Home Guard                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Jim Watson lived at Home Farm, Helmdon, with his wife Olive. He gives an account of the Helmdon Home Guard.

 “The Helmdon platoon of the Home Guard was formed with Lieutenant Jim Jessett as leader and Captain Geoffrey Lees of Falcutt House as Company Commander.   There were about thirty members and we used Helmdon Reading Room as headquarters.  We were fortunate in having a former regular army sergeant major Bill Ayres to drill us and whip us into shape.  He very much impressed on us the need for line.  One of the first things we did was to fill many bottles of petrol, put them in strong wooden boxes and bury them at the five road entrances to the village. There seemed to be a real chance of a German invasion.   The idea was that if, and when, German tanks came our way, we should get concealed and then dash out and fling these bottles at the backs of the advancing tanks. In hindsight,  all very pitiful. Can you visualize the papers? “Helmdon guerrillas knock out six German tanks”.  I sometimes wonder if we ever recovered all of these boxes.  In time we were issued with uniforms and  ·303 Lee Enfield rifles. One of the duties was on all night guard on Helmdon viaduct.  A squad of six had two on duty at the viaduct for two hours while the other four played cards and drank coffee in the station waiting room.  On duty we used our loaded rifles.
Les Watson and Frank Newman were on duty one night when a German plane dropped a stick of six bombs within 200 yards of the viaduct.  They came in looking like ghosts.  Another night Frank Newman and I were on duty at the viaduct.  It was a pitch black night.  We heard footsteps coming along the old LMS line.  Fearing saboteurs, I told Frank to give me covering fire.  I slipped one up the spout and crept down the embankment and gave the proper “Halt, who goes there?”  The footsteps came on.  I had my rifle to my shoulder just ready to fire, when I suddenly realized it was old cob that belonged to Frank Woods.  They all had a good laugh when we got back to base but I can assure you at the time it seemed very real.   One night we were short of milk for the coffee.  Frank Newman and I got a bucket, found a quiet old cow in Charlie Lawrence’s field and milked her.  For a time we did an all night look-out on a wooden platform on the highest chimney at Falcutt House.  That was bitterly cold.  The access was up the back stairs, out of a skylight and up a ladder to the platform.  It was reported that some of the members strayed into the maid’s bedroom for comfort. We had ·303 rifle shooting practice at Chacombe rifle range.  Phil (Watson), Eric Humphrey and myself were chosen to shoot for C Company at the 14th Battalion competition at Brington.  I shot badly but Phil did well.  He came second in the individual for the whole battalion and was awarded his cross guns badge.  Incidentally,  we all three shot left-handed.”


Taken opposite the platform of Helmdon Village station – the grounds of Fountain House behind.

Back Row L – R Wilf Jones, Mick Ayres, Sid Gardener, E Branston, Terry Cox, Reg Saunders, Phil Watson

Middle Row L – R Ron Ratledge, Jack Ayres, Eddie Middleton, Ted Saunders, George Terry, Jack Batchelor

Front Row L – R Jim Watson, Jim Humphrey, Jim Jessett, Joe Waldridge, Joe Humphrey

Three standing Left Frank Smart?, Mont Saunders, Ken Watson

Two standing Right Billy Halford, Ted Saunders

One of our duties was all night guard on Helmdon viaduct.  AS squad of six had two on duty at the viaduct for two hours while the other four played cards and drank coffee in the station waiting room.  On duty we loaded our rifles.

Les wWatson and Frank Newman were on duty one night when a German plane dropped a stick of six bombs within 200 years of the viaduct.  They came in looking like ghosts.  Anther night Frank Newman and I were on duty at the viaduct .  It was a pitch black night. We heard footsteps coming along he old LMS line.  Fearing saboteurs, I told Frank to give me covering fire.  I skipped one upon the spout and crept down the embankment and gave the proper “Halt, who goes there?”  The footsteps came on.  OI had my rifle to my shoulder just ready to fire, when I suddenly realized it was Fred Wood’s old cob.  They all had a good laugh when we got back to base but I assure you at the time it seemed very real.     For a time we did an all night lookout on a wooden platform on the highest chimney at Falcutt House.  That was bitterly cold. The access was up the back stairs, out of a skylight and up a ladder to the platform.  It was suggested that some of the members slipped into the maid’s room for comfort.”

Geoffrey Ipgrave

Geoffrey Ipgrave, was headmaster of Helmdon School from

He extracts these entries from the logs pertaining to the war.

“The Second World War's effect upon the school must have been something like that caused by the sudden influx of railway builders' families when the Great Central was being built.


1939 (11 September)

"4 new village children were admitted and 10 evacuees." 

1940 (September)

"26 children evacuated under the Government Scheme have been admitted, 16 of these children are from Fossdene (LCC) and are in the charge of an Assistant Master ….. 10 are from Edmonton and were unaccompanied." 

1940 (October)

"12 private evacuees were admitted. Classes re-arranged. Evacuees to be merged with native children." 

1940 (2 December)

"As from today school will assemble at 9.30 am instead of 9 am owing to black-out restrictions."


It was a time of fund-raising for the war effort: 

1941 (May)

"War Weapons Week'. 'The School Savings Group' will be open each morning. £76 8s 6d." 

1943 (May)

"Wings for Victory Week'. £205 7s 6 d." 

1944 (July)

"Salute the Soldier Week'. £347 17s 0d."


It was also a very unsettled time, with evacuees coming and going. 

1942 (January)

"Several evacuee children who went home for Christmas have not returned." 

1942 (September)

"12 new children admitted ….. 6 evacuees and 6 native." 

1944 (July)

"11 new evacuees admitted. In all there are now 26 evacuees on roll."


But, finally: 

1945 (10 May)

"School reassembled this morning after two days holiday for victory in Europe."


Elizabeth Monck neé Kirwan

Elizabeth lived at Juniper Cottage at the top of Wappenham Road

“Once the war had begun our father stayed in London during the week and my mother lived with us and our 1-year old brother and a live-in help who was also a friend.”

“Beyond the sitting room (and so next to the honey ladies’ cottage) was our playroom, but I don't remember using it much. It was made rather dark by the enormous laurel hedge that divided our garden from the honey ladies and which grew right next to the window. By 1940 this room had had strengthening wooden pillars inserted in it, and criss-cross tape over the windows (making it even darker), and this was our bomb shelter. It would not have been easy to dig an Anderson shelter in the stone under the top-soil of the garden. I remember being wrapped up in blankets on more than one occasion and brought down to sleep ere. Although bombs did not fall there were many dog-fights over the village and  surrounding countyside.

 “For a while we kept chickens in a fenced-in run; they were given a lot of household scraps, but also had a boiled up mash which smelt delicious. They had a small traditional hen-house on wheels with a door which was firmly shut at night to prevent the foxes getting in; this wooden house had to be moved around the lawn - no doubt another task of Moley’s. Hens are stupid birds, but I did like collecting the eggs from underneath them, and I liked feeding them their mash too. The eggs were preserved [preserving being an important part of a housewife’s tasks in the war] in buckets of isinglass. This meant they could be kept until the months of the year when hens don’t want to lay much. Of course, the war also brought ‘dried eggs’; a strange yellow powder which you mixed with water to make an ‘egg’. Actually it made not-too-bad scrambled egg and cakes.”

“We also used to walk along Wappenham Road to pick blackberries and rose hips which were passed on to the government to become 'rose hip syrup' - a great source of vitamins.”


(Audrey Forgham)





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