War comes to Haslingfield School 1

World War II understandably upset routine in Haslingfield School as
much as it did elsewhere. Hitler’s movements in Europe prompted early

27th and 28th September 1938
Chief Air-Warden asked for co-operation for fitting gas-masks.
Used hall for fitting gas masks, – all school-children were fitted during morning and afternoon.

Two days after the outbreak of war, the first twenty of over 160 evacuees accommodated in the course of the war arrived at the school.
Most of these early evacuees indeed returned home very quickly, when the threatened German bombing of London failed to materialise. Precautions at Haslingfield School, however, continued, particularly after the invasion of Belgium and Holland in May 1940:

June 18th 1940
Have made arrangements that in the event of daytime air-raids,
children from long distances unable to get home will be taken to
the cellars at the Vicarage. Have obtained consent of the parents
concerned. Had intended to dig, and had commenced operations
on a dug-out near playground, but cellars should be more

16th September 1940
Air-raid warning sounded at 9.40 a.m. Children moved out in
orderly fashion without trouble; no gunfire or aircraft being in
evidence, the practised procedure was carried out, – the Vicar’s
cellars were utilised for the extra-parochial and long distance
children. All clear signal at 10.30 a.m. Teachers during morning
period papered some windows for protection in case of sudden
unannounced raid.

There were further alerts in October and November as well as in
the following January and February. On February 27th there were

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Comments (1)



    Dear Sirs,
    Maybe I can be allowed to add something to this?
    The demands and upheavals of wartime life placed the school at the centre of things.
    Air raid alerts and ensuring pupils’ safety an essential element.
    Evacuees arriving from London, with little or no knowledge of rural life as it was then, had to be integrated. Some even tried to sneak back, but were returned to the village. Teaching and learning continued as before, with minimal staff.
    The school also served as HQ and parade ground for the Home Guard.
    An archive photo confirms this. The Home Guard was commanded by my
    father, Eric George Cole, who changed into military uniform after his day as
    school headmaster. He had the rank of lieutenant. Mother, in her quiet
    constructive way, gave support in various ways during these very demanding
    Father went on to complete 36 years as Haslingfield school headmaster,
    taking his retirement at the end of the school year in 1966.
    Neville James Cole.


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