Haslingfield in 1944

Mike Wickham was evacuated to Haslingfield in 1944, and this is some of his recollections of that time…

Aged 10, I was evacuated to Haslingfield during the Summer of 1944 from our home in Hornchurch, Essex, because of the menace of V-1’s and V-2’s. With my Mother and Sister (6) we stayed at 1 Scotts Yard, Haslingfield, which was a 2-up and 2-down cottage with an outside closet (earth or bucket – I cannot remember which) and no mains electricity, gas or water. I remember taking a pail to the village pump daily to get it filled with water. The lady we stayed with was Aunt Annie (King), who was noted for her Apple Pie making – so I was assured by my Dad. Click on Read More to continue reading Mike’s recollections…

Attended the village school, which had increased class sizes due to the number of evacuees. I remember being given a book of arithmetical problems to work my way through, with occasional attention from the teacher to see how I was getting on. The main activity at playtime seemed to be “British Bulldog”. The Headmaster took School Assembly and ensured we got The Lord’s Prayer correctly said with the aid of a length of 2” x 1” waved about – I don’t remember anyone getting whacked with it.

Cinema Shows were held weekly in the School Hall.

My back remembered the wooden-slatted seats on the bus when we occasionally went to Cambridge. They seemed very hard. I used to go fishing in the nearby River Cam with a cane for a rod, string, and a bent pin – caught many a fish (mainly Dace) without bait! My Father, when he came to see us, never caught a thing. The favourite spot was where a Watermill had been; the water was very clear. The sun always seemed to be shining when I was there. A Mustang Fighter crashed in a field nearby at one time, and I, with others went to have a look . There were 20mm HE and Tracer ammunition all over the place with some of it exploding in small fires. Anyway, some of the village lads, somewhat older than me, got hold of some of the cannon shells and were sawing them in half, emptying the contents, and trying to make a bang from the contents with a hammer. Ignorance was bliss about two feet away from this activity! Sometimes took a walk to to the nearby village of Barrington, going over a hill on the way, past the Clunch Pits.

We returned to Hornchurch after a while, in time to start the School Term in September, so we could not have been there many weeks.

Comments (2)

  • Melissa

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    Fascinating to read! I love the part about the 2″x1″ and also the ‘back remembered the wooden-slatted seats’ And I like the part about fishing and your father never catching a thing. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing these.

    Reply

  • NEVILLE JAMES COLE

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    Some interesting recollections.
    My late father was the headmaster at the time. Attention to the ‘3R’s’,as
    shown by the piece, an essential in the school.
    Evacuees were billeted with families in the village, my parents involved in
    the process.Alongside this father was also commanding officer of the village home guard, which held its parades on the school playground.Yes, ‘Dad’s Army’ in reality, in difficult, demanding, times.
    Neville James Cole

    Reply

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