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Three Landford Evacuees -Part 4

by IRWinter

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ivan, Paul and Brian Winter
Location of story: 
landford wilts
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Contributed on: 
10 January 2006

Some of our school friends 1943.

The radio.

This was a time of few electronic devices, remember we had no electricity. However in the mid 1930s a radio was acquired working on AM and Long wave. This marconiphone was battery powered having a large HT and grid bias battery and a separate accumulator. This was a square glass bottle with the positive and negative connections on top, with lead plates and filled with sulphuric acid. Like a modern car battery it had to be recharged when exhausted. This task was carried out by a local Blacksmith who no doubt did the same for local motorists. I remember walking down the main road to Plaitford where at the dip in the road on the left was the Blacksmiths, now a garage. We always seemed to come away with a fully charged replacement so perhaps we did a swop. Dolly of course carried the dangerous device and carried out the connecting up.
As children we were always in bed by the time the most important programme came on, the Nine O’clock news announced by Big Ben. This was the way the nation was kept informed of good or bad news. Although at the time no one knew it was censored if the Government saw fit and was full of propaganda and exaggerated claims.
We were more interested in children’s hour with its cast of well-known characters. Uncle Mac the announcer, who also was the voice of some characters in the plays.
Toy town with Larry the lamb, Dennis the dachshund, Mr grouser was ever popular.
The boy detectives Norman and Henry Bones, one of the carry on team appeared in this with his cracked voice. Children’s hour was at 5 O’clock, considered a sensible time then because children would soon be off to bed.
This Radio survived well into the 50s with a conversion to mains power and I still have it now in 2005.

At lunch time the radio would be switched on for Workers playtime and the news. On workers playtime was a mixture of singing and comedians. Anne Shelton, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, Rawitz and Lander are just remembered but Arthur Askey, stinker Murdoch, Norman Evans, Rob Wilton “ the day war broke out” and “can you hear me mother “ from Sandy Powell are unforgettable.

The grown ups friends.
At earldoms there was another Blacksmith, on the A36 just after the couple of bungalows. Mr Hatch was I believe his name and his smithery was everything you now imagine a blacksmith should look like. We were particularly drawn to his collection of old motorcars in the woods behind the smith. These were either abandoned because of age or maybe the lack of petrol. We would clamber over them practising our driving skills.
In the first of the two bungalows lived Sid and Flo Hayes, good and long standing friends of Aunty Doll and Gran. Flo had lost her young man in the First World War and had remained single for many years. She had however kept some of the items prepared for her marriage; this included beautiful brordereais anglais nightwear, which Dolly inherited on her death. I find that quite sad that Flo had kept these all those years, what sadness for her. Sid can only be described as a character, in his sixties an ex Royal Marine and veteran of the Boxer wars in China. He could talk the hind leg off a donkey with lengthy anecdotes and learned opinions on how the war was progressing. His language could be a bit risqué, which earned an immediate reprimand from Flo. Considered a bit of a rascal who spent many a drunken night asleep on the local common as a single man, he managed to woo and wed Flow who seemed to be able to keep him under control although she gave the impression of being a little mouse. This was much to the surprise of Dolly who initially wondered who the fellow was who seemed to be getting his feet under Flo’s table.
Sid kept us lads spell bound with his tales and on special occasions would bring out a wind up gramophone with a large collection of 78s. Our favourite being the laughing police man.
Sid was an excellent gardener who provided his table with all veg and fruit. As his garden was surrounded by woods full of rabbits and deer this was no mean feat.
Now of course his garden has given way to the A36, thank god he did not live to see that deed.
When Alice and Ted owned Glebe Farm their neighbours were the Coopers and they remained friends. The walk up to Hampworth and turning left at the Cuckoo pub brought us to old Mr Cooper. Again an accomplished gardener but I best remember him for his prediction that Hitler had bitten off more than he could chew when he attacked Russia in June 1941. This prediction was made a few days after the German invasion. These old men, to me, seemed very astute, worldly and full of common sense.
Another walk up to Nomansland , to the cricket green or the Lamb, would take us past an uncle of Dorothy’s. This was uncle Herb who lived in one of the lovely houses on the right as you enter Nomansland. Dolly liked the occasional cigarettes but Herb strongly disapproved of woman smoking so the cig would be put out as we passed the house and relit on the other side. This paid off as she was left £1000 on his death, put in a post office savings account; this was her rainy day money.
We sometimes went in to see him and like some other Winters he was notorious for not giving away one apple etc. He would occasionally crack and give you an extremely old faller. This trait was certainly in the genes, Dorothy and Albert being the same whilst Les would always send you off with a bagful of garden produce.
Just over Pound Hill lived May Hatcher and her brother Bill, the one who worked at Bridge farm. They lived in Rose cottage a farm cottage, which belonged to Bridge farm. May was a good friend of Dorothy and we visited there frequently. May was a very delicate person with a prognosis of a short life, whilst I cannot remember the details she seemed to have most things wrong with her and got much sympathy from Dorothy who tended to like the sick. As far as I was concerned her greatest asset was a plum tree in her garden. In the late summer we would get a bag full at each visit with the strict instructions to whistle all the way home. A clever device to detect the eating of a plum.
Needless to say May lived to be about Ninety whilst Bill left this earth in 1966 soon after his retirement. His going being the result of May, when Glebe farm was sold, she refused to move to the cottages in the village but instead opted for a cottage in the middle of the woods on the Downton road at Hampworth. When he fell and broke his leg the rescue services were unable to get to him and he died, presumably from an infection.
May subsequently moved to Downton and lived many years on her own.

The Church.
The visits to the church were important events during the week. Both Gran and Aunty Dorothy were regular attendees on every Sunday and we also visited the churchyard to keep Edwin Winter’s grave tidy, especially during the spring and summer months when the grass had to be kept neat.
As soon as we were old enough we joined them for the morning service, always sitting in the same pew where we were stared down from a stained glass window by a Knight in armour who seemed to me to have an iron mask over his head, which was terrifying enough to keep me still.
The Winter family had been heavily involved in the church, the children including Dorothy having been in the choir and Edwin was an Usher for some time.
Dorothy went into service on leaving school and her first job was as a servant girl in the rectory.
The rector during this time was the Rev Davis. Because Dorothy worked in the rectory us children often went with her where we were made welcome by Mrs Davis and the rector. He obviously liked children as he often played with us telling us fairy stories. His favourite was Fee Fy Foe Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, be he alive or be he dead, and I’ll grind his bones to make my bread. He would say this with full effects and terrify us all.
I still have a small book given to me by Mrs Davis when we returned to Gillingham in 1945; it is inscribed “For all the kind errands run for me”.
Dorothy seemed to have a very nice relationship with them; she was about the same age as their children Prue and Gilbert. Gilbert in the Navy would appear sometimes with his uniform on.
In the front pews sat the more important people such as Sir Frederic Preston and Sir Adrian Boults father who looked just like his son.
The rector did have one minor fault, although to us kids it seemed a blessing, he was not one to keep people hanging about with a lengthy sermon and the service itself could be conducted at a fair pace.
One member of the Winter family, May, fell out with him when one day her young baby howled through much of the service. She was asked to remove him, which she did never to return. From now on she was a chapel visitor.
The bells of the church, silent during the war, pealed out again after. The bell wringer being Bill Baby. The bells always saying, according to Dorothy.
Why don’t you leave your wife alone?
She is so drunk she can’t come home.
{Not a very religious message}
Whenever I see the old church it fills me with fond memories of a time when people felt it necessary to pray in their local church.
There were of course special days when the Home Guard turned out for a Church Parade. Led by Mr Lankford, an ex chief in the Navy, the impressive group would march past and into the church. Brian thought this was a good occasion to show off and would ape the marching steps of Mr Lankford who I must admit was a bit pompous with his tummy marching before him. The Home Guard at some time during the war was issued with a field gun and Mr Lankford informed Gran that her front room provided an excellent site to cover any Germans approaching up the A36. She was not amused.

Going to school.

As stated earlier our enlisting in St Andrews was filled with mystery. It is only since a school reunion on June 26th 2004 that I saw that we started a year late. We were 5 in sept 1941 and should have started school, however from the school register we actually started on the 13 April 1942 with our birth date being given as 13th Sept 1937.
Brian birth date was shifted to November 1938 six months later than his real date in May 1938.
We made new friends at school; at last we met Sally and John Roberts and shared the journeys to and from school up the Lyndhurst road.
Allan Grayer from Glebe farm and his sister Joyce, Terry and David Eves who lived in a bungalow opposite Hutchings farm their Mum Muriel had the difficult job of bringing them up alone as her husband had died in the war. Kay Holder and her brother Rodney who also lived on the Lyndhurst road. She was a bit older than us and a nice blonde her dad Reg was a great gardener and seemed to have a speciality of onion growing, I can still picture them on a frame drying in the late summer.
Marion Gilberts who lived in Pound cottage, now Marion Penny and living in White Farm.

I seem to remember a Gilbert Hatch from a farm in Stocks lane, he had no hair and we rather unkindly called him eggo.
The Wallen twins Peter and Wendy and The Clark sisters Sheila and Jean. As I got older I became rather sweet on Jean and a school play, which involved Brian giving her a kiss caused some jealousy.
The Clarks were I think in the village for the war and had a relative who lived next to the chapel. They lived in one of the cottages attached to the old post office.
Brian Moody is remembered for the wrong reason as he was killed after the war on his motor cycle, he pulled out into the A36 on the Level and was hit by a cleric who had misjudged his speed, or maybe it was the cleric who pulled out, anyway it was not Brian’s fault.
The Pierce girls, Jean and Maureen, Michael Fox, Joyce Hutchings, the Philamores and others who’s names escape me.
One poor child had the habit of wetting herself in the playground; it’s rather strange that this memory is still there.

As the roads were fairly quiet we were allowed to walk to and from school, even when they became busy with soldiers our only direction was not to talk to black soldiers.
It was always interesting either down the A36 and along Glebe lane or down the back way, the Lyndhurst road. The different seasons having their own treats, frog spawn in the puddles of Glebe lane in the spring, the summer migrants which were always abundant even though deterred from nesting at Forest View by Dorothy smashing their nests with her handy clothes prop.
The River Blackwater where a quick peep over the bridge might mean you were lucky enough to see a Kingfisher and always there were fish darting for cover under the bridge. In the winter the water would rise and cover the adjacent fields and sometimes the road, which meant an accompanied walk to school.
I believe one year, possibly the bad winter of 1940, it froze over.
School life as I remember it was fashioned by the war, teachers had departed to fight and in some cases they had been replaced by woman from the village.
Miss Dyer and Miss Nobbs were professionals and very good, leaving fond memories.
Mrs King was I believe a helper. She however became ill and left. I think Aunty doll said she had skin cancer not that it meant much to us.
Among the skills taught were knitting, I can still cast on but that’s all, playing simple musical instruments and team games such as rounders.
The playground was a delight, the front half dominated by a yew tree and the back by some splendid Scots pines. Plenty of room to play and no bullying or nastiness.
There is no doubt that other skills were taught as on return to Gillingham I passed the eleven plus exam in 1947, two years after leaving Landford.

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