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Some School Wartime Memories 1

by CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Edward Brown,
Location of story: 
Willesdon County Grammar School & area
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 August 2005

This story has been submitted to the People’s War website by a volunteer from Lincoln CSV Action Desk and added to the site on behalf of members of the Old Uffingtonians Association, which is the ex-pupils of Willesdon County Grammar School, with their permission. In this case the author is Edward Brown. The association fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I can still recollect a broad, shallow crater where about two classrooms had been earlier destroyed in the older part of the school in 1940. It must have been a small calibre bomb but it would have been devastating had it fallen during school hours; not that such gloomy thoughts seemed to enter the minds of school children at the time. General morale seemed, on reflection, amazingly high.
The Blitz was now well over but the night raids were still frequent in 1943. Apparently stimulated rather than intimidated, we schoolboys would arrive at school with out latest trophies of war, usually shell splinters (frequently found by trawling a magnet on a length of string in the gutter.) My greatest acquisition was a supposedly deactivated German 1.5 kilo incendiary bomb. I cannot describe the kudos this would have earned me at school had not my treasure been discovered on the very evening of my triumph by my justly alarmed parents, although I did not see it their way at the time. As the war progressed the variety and splendour of war materials proudly displayed soared. By 1945 "liberated" bayonets, bullets and Wehrmacht medals and badges became commonplace. There was a persistent and thrilling rumour that an unknown God-like figure in the fifth form had a German pistol but as with all the best rumours, nobody had actually seen it, of course. This insatiable schoolboy hunger for war trophies was to reach dangerous proportions, I am sorry to say.
I wonder how many my school colleagues (other Old Uffs) remember the enormous quantities of sand deposited next to the school in the park? Speculation was rife, and I for one was convinced, that the school was to be swathed in thousands of sandbags, such was its importance if Hitler was ever to be defeated. Humiliatingly the sand remained untouched until well after the war ended, but to the delight of the local children it must be said. Sand, we were instructed, together with a stirrup pump and shovel were necessary to extinguish German incendiary bombs and I have fond images of some of our staff thus preparing for the fire-watch rotas they undertook at the school. The fortuitous sight of a steel-helmeted Miss Edgill with stirrup pump was more than normally intimidating. Clearly this had its effect on the enemy for after its earlier wounds the school remained largely undamaged.
There were tragedies, of course. Both parents and members of the school were killed but I cannot remember very much being made of it. Common sympathy was not absent but grief and personal loss were still very much a restrained and essentially private matter, nevertheless. Perhaps it was not feasible to do otherwise under the circumstances. As the war dragged on the strain did begin to tell, however, and a general weariness began to communicate itself even to we still high-spirited youngsters.

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