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Rumours of War

by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
cornwallcsv
People in story: 
May Foreman (Headmistress), Miss Lambert. Mrs Charles Williams and Lady Rendlesham
Location of story: 
Truro Grammar School
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4520387
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

This story was submitted to the peoples war site by Rod Sutton on behalf of Graham D Gape who collected it from May Foreman for his History of Truro County Grammar School and has been added to the website with his permission. He fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

The rape of Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1938, followed in the summer by the treaty between Russia and Germany, were clear signs of the imminence of war. During the summer holidays the issue of gas masks began and teachers were warned to select the safest places both in the schools and outside, and to practice swift and orderly evacuation and give gas mask drill. The lower corridor in the County School with its reinforced ceilings, the staircase wells and small landings at the bottom, were chosen. Out of doors, the lane opposite the school and the deep cutting of Chapel Hill were considered best. In school, until the Hall corridor windows were boarded up the glass was covered by piles of books. Remembering the difficulties of the 1914-1918 war, the stationery allowance for 1938-1939 was sent in the autumn term on exercise paper, exercise books, soap etc., as those had been in short supply in the earlier war. By the spring of 1939 these measures had been completed, and the task began of filling the Kitchen store cupboards with tinned and bottled goods to help school catering during the coming years. Except for the feeling of overhanging threat the school worked as usual - the summer examinations took place in the school Hall - High School and County School candidates for the Cambridge School Certificate and Higher School Certificates combining as in the past, and though War had begun by the Autumn and all girls brought their gas masks, and these were regularly checked, life was little changed. Miss Lambert however, had already suggested the need for training by the Upper Forms in first aid and home nursing, and the school had formed a Red Cross Cadet Unit and had begun systematic instruction under her. Speech Day 1940 was, as customary, in the City Hall (the Regent Cinema) with Lady Rendlesham in the Chair, and the guest speaker was Mrs Charles Willams. There was, however, a change in the summer, High School examination candidates stayed in their own School, Higher School certificate candidates wrote their papers in a semi-basement in Strangeway's Terrace, and candidates from Falmouth Grammar School for Boys, shared the Truro Girls' School as it appeared safer than their own buildings. A nation-wide appeal for more nurses in hospitals suggested to the Headmistress and Governors, that pre-nursing course in Schools would interest the girls and encourage entrants. It was felt that the staff with Miss Lambert and the P.T. specialist were fully qualified to give the necessary instruction. However, so many difficulties arose chiefly on the part of the Nursing Council, that it was not until autumn 1943 that the course was recognised, and eleven students were enrolled from Truro and neighbouring County Schools, for it was then the only School pre-nursing course in Cornwall. Several of those early recruits have gone far in their profession and now occupy posts of great responsibility. Recently too, the Gold Medal at the Royal Cornwall Infirmary and the Gold Medal at Redruth Hospital for the best student nurse, were won by former members of the Pre-Nursing Course.

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