Prisoners of war at Eastcott

In our previous blog, Farming in Easterton -1939, we noted that, by 1940, the Manor Farm at Eastcott had been sold to Major Carver. At Market Lavington Museum, one of our oral history recordings is by John Sainsbury, who lived in Eastcott. His mother did housework for the Carvers and, at the time John left school, aged fourteen, she was told that there was an opening for a market gardener at the manor.

It was in 1944, during the second World War, that John started working for the Carvers. He recalled land girls growing tomatoes, lettuce and so on. Just down the road from the manor was a cottage with five Italian prisoners of war. John maintained contact with two of them and visited them in Italy.

After the Italian POWs left, some German prisoners came to the cottage. John was quite friendly with two of them. One had been a sculptor and artist and John remembered that he had done some stonework near the telephone in Easterton. He stayed in England after the war and married a Wiltshire girl. The other one was a good footballer. On one occasion, this German prisoner borrowed a suit and cycled to Westbury with John to see a Betty Grable film.

After the Germans left, John said that a Polish family moved into that cottage and worked for the Carvers. John himself worked there until 1946.

As ever, we are extremely grateful to those people who have contributed to our oral histories, giving us a flavour of real life in our villages in times past. We will feature more of John’s memories another time.

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