- Contributed by
- CSV Solent
- People in story:
- Mrs Toni Rose (nee Steed) and Mrs Jean Boyes (nee Anteney)
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 July 2005
My first introduction as a new pupil to ‘Southampton Grammar School for Girls’ — walking in a crocodile from school to Southampton Central station, complete with label, gas mask, rucksack containing some food, clothes and toiletries. Uneasy, as we were not privy to our final destination.
BOURNEMOUTH: Divided into groups, not knowing anyone and ‘hawked’ round the streets, accompanied by a billeting officer. House holders came out and pointed to children they were willing to take in. I think that was probably the worst part. An express engine driver, his wife (and grown up niece) were my foster parents, so that was my home together with another girl.
We shared a school with ‘Bournemouth School for Girls’ at the Lansdowne, alternating morning and afternoon sessions, with some sports, once a week elsewhere. Obviously, there was a heavy homework load. Gradually made school friends, and we had to spend quite a lot of time away from the house, as they did not want us full time, but there was no unkindness from them. Sometimes we went by bus to school and because, I suppose of our bright blue uniforms, had some abuse from residents, accusing us of being charity children, etc.
AT THE TIME OF DUNKIRK: schools were closed for two days and turned into Reception centres. The local elementary school in Holdenhurst Road had French troops. We spent our pocket money on cigarettes and handed them to the solders, through the railings. I have some of their signatures in my school girl’s autograph book. Much faded now, as remember in those days there were no biro pens, only pencils
HOME TO SOUTHAMPTON for school holidays — collecting money from neighbours for the Spitfire fund, going down to Anderson shelter in next door’s garden during raids. Scent of Tobacco flowers always reminds me of the early morning ‘emergence’. Aerial dog fights, when joy of joys, a Spitfire shot down a German plane. The pilot parachuting down landing quite near us. Disobeyed my father by going into Southampton to swimming baths. Caught there when land mines came down nearby on the docks.
BACK IN BOURNEMOUTH — The ‘Metropole hotel’ looked towards our Form room window, and we were bombarded with Morse code lamp messages, from the occupants who were in the Canadian Air Force. No very profitable as we only knew the code for SOS. Sadly, the ‘Metropole’ was bombed and many men were killed. If the air raid siren sounded while we were at school we moved to the basement. Once, as the period had exceeded a certain time we were issued with a small piece of chocolate and, I think, a biscuit. With the influx of American troops, remember seeing them drinking beer out of their helmet, crowding the pavements outside ‘The Dolphin’ in the Holdenhurst Road, as the landlord had run out of glasses.
My parents moved to Winchester in 1944 so home was now there. We were teenagers, so went out with our girl friends and Americans. (All our local boys were in the forces.) They were invited into our homes and some of their parents wrote of their appreciation. One outstanding memory of a New Years Eve dance at ‘West Downs school’, Romsey Road, Winchester, (taken over by US forces) was eating this gorgeous chocolate cake with peaches set in the top, in the kitchens.
Early in the summer of 1944, Jean and I cycled to Barton on Sea through the New Forest. A little way in, we were aware of hundreds of men, machines etc. We stopped many times to have our photos taken, unaware it was the build up for the invasion. Back in Bournemouth our school lives had improved, as when troops left ‘Wentworth Boarding School for Girls’ (their pupils were evacuees in Wales) we were able to take the school over as Day pupils. Lessons and sports all in the same place. Some of us were rabbit keepers, which meant we could forage for food in the woods in the grounds reaching the cliff top. We were lucky enough to see the panorama of ships in the bay around D Day from there. An unforgettable experience. Great sorrow later in June, when I learned my 18 year old cousin in the RN, had been killed on the frigate HMS Nith by a V1 Flying bomb.
Later when the military no longer needed the Southampton schools, our education continued there. VE Day Celebration. Out with my father for drinks, then up to St Giles Hill for the bonfire. As my mother’s birthday was on 9 May we had to wait to buy her present of slippers, collecting up the money and clothing coupons, when the celebrations were over.
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