- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Irene Marson (nee Draper), Bill Broadfield
- Location of story:
- Barrow-on-Trent, Derbyshire.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 October 2005
This story was put on the site by Louise Angell of the CSV Action Desk at BBC Radio Derby on behalf of Irene Marson. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.
The Second World War did not have a big effect on the village other than the day to day worry of what might happen. Several small bombs dropped in surrounding fields, the biggest being a delayed action one which fell on the opposite side of the river to Crowtrees. It exploded the next morning, a saturday, about 10am. I was doing my piano practise and the ornaments on the piano jumped in the air. Ack-Ack guns were sited on Sinfin Moor to protect Rolls Royce. The nearest to us were on the site where Ash Lea Farm now stands. At the tie of the bombing of Coventry the bombers would drone over the village and the guns would fire. A decoy Rolls Royce was set up on Sinfin Moor to fool the Germans. A suspicious gentleman was arrested on the bridge, it was rumoured he was a spy. We never knew how true the story was.
The biggest change to the village was when 'The Cottage' now The Club, was taken over by the army and filled with Military Police. One MP, Bill Broadfield, kept in touch with the Marson family for many years. After the war he took a job in charge of Nuclear Warning Systems in the London area. Another MP was rather a slow come-day-go-day fellow. He was in charge of the ablutions. We could tell when he was walking in the village because he shuffield his feet so we christened him Christmas (after the saying'Christmas is coming'). Later in the war the village was alive with soldiers. They came to practise building pontoon bridges over the river. They were housed under canvas in the next field to the end house on Swarkestone Road. A Naafi was erected on the grass in the lodges. Arthur Barlow's concert party came to entertain the troops. We poked our heads under the canvas and the soldiers let us go in and sit at the front. I don't think the concerts were really for our ears. Still we were very naive and did not really know what theywere talking about. one of the soldiers was a saxophonist in Harry Roy's dance band which was one of the best bands on the radio in those days. He joined our little village band for the Saturday night hops. We must have had one of the best village bands around. We were woken up every morning with the bugle call 'Come to the cookhouse door, boys'. I wonder how many of those boys lost their lives during the DDay landings. it was rumoured one or two lost their lives by the river here while training to erect bridges. When the camp was dismantled we children in the village had a field day digging up the coins which were dropped and trodden into the grass in front of the bar area.
Another big change in the village when war broke out was change in use of the hall. Up to 1939 the Hall had been a gentleman's residence for the Eadie family, brewers of Burton. Most of the people in the village worked on the farms or in the Hall. Quite a few young ladies came to work in service at the Hall and married local boys.
In 1940 the Eadies left. They were worried Barrow might be too close to rolls Royce for safety, so with their young family they moved to burton. The Hall was taken over by the government to house Birmingham evacuees. It was a minor hospital for children who were getting over operations or had skin problems. Not many went too the village school because of their health problems. When the bombing of London and the doodle bugs got worse, the London children came. Some were housed with people. Grandma had a brother and sister. Their father came to visit them, he was a Royal Marine and we were fascinated with the stories he told us. In the 1980's when Peter was keeping the shop several evacuees visited barrow looking for the Hall. They all said the same. They were more frightened of the animal noises in the night and the creaking sounds in the house than they were of the bombs. The Hall was a lovely house and it was a disaster when it was burnt down in 1957. it had become very run down during the war years.
During the war years, we five Draper children were all at secondary school in Derby and our friends liked nothing better than to come to stay for the weekend. We slept at St. Wilfrid's because we had an air raid shelter there and we were often 4 in a bed. Two at the top and two at the bottom. We always had a wooden trolley to play on made from a plank or two and some old pram wheels. We were never short of something to do. mother had a job to persuade us to go to Derby and buy clothes, we would much rather stay in the village. The school friends who came to stay, talk about their happy days at Barrow whenever we bump into each other.
In spite of the war we never went short of food. dad killed two pigs a year so we had plenty of meat and lard. grandmother made the best pork pies I have ever tasted.
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