Our Residents’ Fascinating Stories!
As it is the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 on 11th November, we asked some of our residents about their own war experiences.
Some had family that fought, some fought in WW2, some were just children and some stayed at home to look after the land.
I have put together some of their remembrances. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Life down on the farm – Ted remembers.
“I was needed on the farm, I missed school. They called my dad up but he was needed back to milk the cows, he was exempt.
I had a tractor even though I wasn’t old enough, the police used to let me drive on the road. We had American Soldiers and English Soldiers about a mile from the village, it was a happy time, we were like a big family. The Americans were starving I used to take big tatties tucked into my pockets and take them to the Americans. They had two tortoise stoves, they pinched the fat from the cook house and the soldiers cooked them. We would give them the tatties and they would give us 400 – 600 fags. We shared them out with the men and women in the village, that’s how the Americans survived.
Being a farmer same as the butcher from Hindon there could be a lot of under the counter trades going on.
We had a lot of evacuees in the village, mum had two, they were lovely girls, they came from London. One boy was an evacuee from London and he came back to East Knoyle a few years ago to visit the village.”
“We had land girls, that was the best time, they lived in two cottages, we had five or six helping they were grand girls. One passed away a few months ago, she stayed here after the war and married a villager like some of the others. The land girls used to do the potato picking, it was hard work. If it hadn’t have been for the land girls we wouldn’t have won the war. They worked hard. Some land girls had never been to the country before. They were city girls. I don’t think they are praised enough.”
My own Mother was in the Land Army. She was from London. Her whole family were evacuated to the country from The Old Kent Road during the blitz. I used to love to hear her stories of hiding under the kitchen table when the bombing started. She met my Dad in the village where she was posted, they married and lived there for the rest of their lives.
I have managed to find a picture of her (left) as a land girl on the farm where she was first posted.
Evacuees – Molly’s recollections
“I can remember gran having lots of evacuees, they were sad and cried, they were a long way from home. Gran had lots, the doctor asked if she was sure that she didn’t have too many.
All my uncles and brothers went to war they had to, they couldn’t say no I’m not going! I seen my Gran cry. All came home thankfully.”
Family members who fought and survived.
“My dad was in the Grenadier Guards in 1936, he served all through the war and came home without a scratch. He was just over the border in France when we were called back.
I was only 3 when war finished. I had two uncles that served in the navy, they came home again unharmed. One was a professional footballer and was going to sign for Notts County but by the time the war was over he was no longer wanted.
My Grandad was in The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he came through the war without too many injuries. That was the 1st world War. I never joined the forces and just missed out on National Service.”
“My father was in the Welsh Fusiliers with horses and spears. You can’t print some of the things I could tell you!”
“My father fought in the Boer War in the Horse Cavalry in Africa under Churchill.”
“My father won the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the last cavalry charge against the Turkish. (The Battle of Beersheeba in 1917)”
An extraordinary lady.
“I was in France, part of the British helping the French Resistance, I was late for the boat back to blighty and I had to wait behind a rock with my feet in the sea all night whilst the Germans searched the coast, they didn’t find me and I caught the next boat back in the morning. I was a WREN shipped to Germany to spy and glean information.”
These are just some of the stories that we managed to collect, I am sure there are many more that could be uncovered from this remarkable generation.