An evacuee’s family seek help

Market Lavington Museum regularly receive (or offer) help tracing family. In this case the family was a temporary one which may not actually have lived in Market Lavington.

The evacuee, who came to the Lavington area, probably in 1939, was Bernard Cleary who was aged about nine at that time.

Sadly, Bernard died a couple of years ago and it is his younger brother seeking information. The brother has hazy memories of a visit and a photograph was taken on the day of the visit. Bernard is the lad sitting on the right in the photo. His parents and little brother stand by the big stone. The other lad is thought to be a Lavington local.

The Cleary family at the Robber's Stone - 1939/40

The younger Mr Cleary writes:

This photograph of our family plus a local  (Lavington based) friend of my brother’s, was taken early in the war.  I know it was wartime because our journey started with us using the underground in London (a first time for me).  If you can picture this happening when London was completely blacked out you will understand my surprise when we entered the station and I saw for the first time what seemed to be a street with lights. It was amazing. Our trip to visit Bernard in his new home had to have taken place before the Blitz started on London and during the first year of the war, when little happened, in what is referred to as the Phoney War.

I remember a small bridge over a stream or river, the river being about fifteen feet wide. Scottish soldiers playing bagpipes are walking towards the bridge from the open fields behind (surely Salisbury Plain). I have a memory of  being in the garden of the people Bernard was being billeted with, (a substantial garden loaded with tall vegetables – as they appeared to me)  The people he stayed with were said to be very kind. I think the man of the house was there, so I presume he was in a reserved occupation or too old to go off fighting.

At the museum, we are fairly sure that the photograph is taken at the Robber’s Stone, on Salisbury Plain above West Lavington but we cannot place a stream about 15 feet wide with certainty. Can you help? Do you recall a lad called Bernard Cleary. Do you recognise the lad sitting on the stone on the left? If so, do leave a message or contact the curator using the link below.

Contact the curator


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