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15 October 2014
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Knitting For Victory.

by derbycsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
derbycsv
People in story: 
Margaret Foxon (now Handley)
Location of story: 
Homelands schoold for girls, Normanton, derby.
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4504682
Contributed on: 
21 July 2005

In September 1938 Homelands School opened its doors and I entered as Second Former, along with all those who had spent our year as First Formers at the Central School in Hastings Street. What a contrast between the old Central School building and this beautiful brand new school with the pleasant well-laid out approach from the main gate and inside everything so new. It was all so wonderful, and a little bit bewildering. There was the school hall with the stage, with real theatre curtains and stage lighting, the well equipped gym, the new class-rooms with modern desks (remember the yellow boards and blue chalk?) the lovely playing fields and the pleasant surroundings.

I remember the talk Miss Welbank gave us reminding us all how very fortunate we were to have this lovely new school and that we must all take care not to spoil it.

There was a barrage balloon at the front of the school, air-raid shelters on the top playing fields and protective netting over the windows. We were encouraged to ‘do our bit’ to help the war effort, such as ‘digging for victory’ in the kitchen garden, and knitting comforts such as mittens, scarves and balaclava helmets for the troops.

As we progressed up the school we were able to do more to help the war effort. The Homelands Service Corps was formed and we learned useful, practical things like First Aid. Occasionally we were allowed to help at the Forces canteen in the town. For some this was something of a disappointment as we were kept strictly in the kitchen and not allowed to serve the cups of tea etc. to members of H.M. Forces seeking refreshment there. Approaching Christmas, when exams were over some of us helped with sorting the mail at the main sorting office. There were days when we helped on nearby farms, planting cabbages and potatoes, and in the summer holidays some of us camped at Shottle Hall Farm and helped with harvesting there and on surrounding farms; stooking wheat, helping with threshing, treading silage and so on. Who remembers Miss Yates driving over on the occasion of the liberation of Paris, overjoyed at the news and asking to sing the Marseillaise after supper that evening?

There are many happy memories of those days at Homelands. The inter house competitions, the concerts and plays put on by various forms at the end of term. There were friendships formed, some of which have lasted over the years.

I remember many of the staff with affection and gratitude. To name them all would take too long on this occasion, but led by Miss Welbank they worked with dedication and I am grateful to them.

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