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Mar 20 2011

Welldon Park School 1910-1985 Celebration (Part X)

Part ten in our ongoing series on Welldon Park School…

WORLD WAR 2

When war was declared on 3 September 1939, the School was initially closed until further notice. After one week it was opened for the distribution of milk to the school children: after six weeks children again began to attend lessons but at first for only two hours each day working in shifts. It was to take ten months before sufficient air raid shelters had been completed and all children were able to attend school full time once again. After that air raid warnings and evacuations of children to the shelters became regular routine. At times the air raid warnings lasted all night and on these occasions School started late. All the children were issued with gas masks and former pupils recall practising putting them on and the fear they had of not being able to breathe properly. During the day time the gas masks in their cases were stored under the children’s desk, and were something of a hazard for those trying to walk round the classroom.

Miss Davy became ill and retired in 1940. Miss Hardy, later to become Mrs Cooper, succeeded her as Headmistress on 7 January 1941. Mr Goodhead was Deputy Head at that time.

Alerts continued and the staff were organised into Fire Watching patrols taking it in turn to be on duty five nights of the week from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The School, supported by parents, raised an enormous amount of money for the War effort. In May 1941, the School gave its support to War Weapons Week. Further to this the railings which had separated the boys’ playground from the girls’ playground were removed to provide much needed steel for the War. They were never to be replaced and the playgrounds have been mixed ever since. In January 1942 the School received a letter from 10 Downing Street. It read

Dear Children

I write to thank you very much for the most generous contribution which you have sent me from your school for my Red Cross ‘Aid to Russia Fund’. The wonderful response I have had from all over the Country is a great encouragement, and I am most grateful to you all.

Yours sincerely

Clementine Churchill

In May of the same year, in support of Warships Week, the School Bazaar was opened by Mrs Atlee, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister. Enough was raised to buy sixteen life jackets for Harrow’s Destroyer H.M.S. Quality. In March 1943 it was the turn of Wings for Victory Week.

In June 1944 the danger was from pilotless planes and there were daily alerts. Even so, all children were encouraged to attend School. Dinners were served in the shelter. Parents must have been very concerned for the safety of their children during these flying bomb attacks and by August of that year numbers had plummeted, many children having been evacuated to safer areas.

It must have been a tremendous relief when, on 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe was celebrated. The School was closed for two days and the entry in the School Log Book written in red letters. The following year the War ended and Victory Celebrations were held which lasted for aweek. They were organised by the children and included four plays from the Junior School and displays of dancing, singing, games and verse speaking from the Infants.

 

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