Posts Tagged ‘WW2’

Celebrating VE Day

July 24, 2016

At this time we mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme. July 24th was a relatively quiet day on the Somme with some 612 British service persons killed on that day.

The war to end all wars failed in that purpose for just 23 years after the Somme disaster war broke out again and the 6 year World War II was fought.

When victory in Europe came, towards the end of that second war, it was marked by spontaneous celebrations at home in the UK. In Market Lavington the event was marked 50 years on in 1995. Amongst the 1995 events was a sit down meal in the old parish room.

VE Day celebration in 1995 - fifty years on

VE Day celebration in 1995 – fifty years on

Some photos were printed in black and white to give a vintage feel to them and this is one of them.

The old boy on the left is Percy Wilkins, a well-known village character. Next to him is his daughter Barbara and it is probably her son next to her. They still live locally. So, too, does Mala at the back table.

Unlike the Somme, 100 years ago, VE day really was something to celebrate. We remember the Somme and its enormous cost in lives.




Bobby McGregor

July 14, 2016

Bobby was an Easterton evacuee during World War Two and he was a recent visitor to Market Lavington Museum. It isn’t the first time he had returned to the area. In fact he had already had a mention on this blog when we published a piece from an Easterton Echo of October 1975 which was written by Gladys Windo and said:


During the ‘last year several families of evacuees have revisited Easterton. They were billeted here during the Second World War. Sidney Hamshere returned with his wife and family from Australia. He was staying with Mr & Mrs Hussey senior during the war. He called on Bill Hussey and myself and was very disappointed to see the old school gone.

Bill Emery who was billeted at the vicarage called with his wife & family from Germany.

Tony Emery and his wife and family paid a visit. Billeted with Mr & Mrs Davies, he now lives at Taunton.

Mr “Bobby” & Malcolm McGregor also returned. They called on Mrs Topp as they were billeted with Miss Etherington.

They all remembered the great competition to blow the church organ – for one shilling per week. All had happy memories of Easterton and hope to pay a return visit sometime.

Shirley & Mavis Allsop, billeted with Mrs Little at Cedar Farm, have again visited us.

Many in the village remember going to school with these evacuees.

Miss Windo.

For this visit, Bobby came alone and brought a photo of him outside his billet.

Bobby McGregor at Hill View in Easterton

Bobby McGregor at Hill View in Easterton

Bobby was an East end of London lad and he and his brother found a home with Miss Etherington. Frances Violet Etherington lived at Hill View on Kings Road. She had been born in 1874 in Hertfordshire and had, like many another member of her family joined the teaching profession. She became head at Easterton School and we think she retired when Miss Windo came in 1934. So by the time of the blitz, in 1940, Miss Etherington would have been about 66.

Bobby was a youngster and his memories are limited. He thinks he came three times, returning home to London after the blitz but coming back to Easterton when doodlebug and V2 raids started.

One strange little quirk was that Bobby, aged 5, was baptised at Easterton on 18th January 1942.

Bobby attended Easterton School and remembers lardy cakes, which he thought delicious, made by an Easterton baker. He recalls playing in the stream near the pump until that was banned following the death of Ronald Hussey. Some blamed his illness and death on playing in the stream.

Bobby is trying to piece together his time in Easterton and would like to know more about Miss Etherington. She died in 1962 but there will be plenty of people who remember her.

Do get in touch if you can tell us anything and we’ll pass information on to Bobby who now lives in Aberdeen.

Harold D Engdahl

June 19, 2016

We don’t know much about Harold but he must have been a US soldier here during World War Two and he lost his ‘dog tag’ which, being made of metal, has been found by Norman the detectorist.

Military dog tag for Harold D Engdahl. It dates from World War Two

Military dog tag for Harold D Engdahl. It dates from World War Two

From this we have a name, presumably a military identification and a blood group of B. His next of kin was David Engdahl who lived at 1610-29th Street, Rockford Illinois.

We can add a little more to this. David was Harold’s father and we can see a family group on the 1940 US census.


A part of the 1940 census for Rockford Illinois

Our family are the bottom three on this section of the census. We can see that Harold’s mother was called Linnea and both his parents were born in Sweden. Harold, aged 25, was born in Illinois. The census tells us that both father and son were wood workers involved in furniture making at a factory.

Harold attested for the US army in 1942 but we know nothing more about his service. Of course, we assume he must at the least have passed through Market Lavington. He must have survived for the one definite date we have is that he died, still in Illinois, in 1988.


Bill Elisha

February 7, 2016

Back in 2012 we showed one of two sketches drawn of Bill during World War 2. Today we look at the second of them.

A 1944 sketch of Bill Elisha

A 1944 sketch of Bill Elisha

We can see that bill is the CQMS or Company Quartermaster Sergeant in the Wiltshires.

We can’t make out the name of the sketcher but they have thoroughly caught our Bill. As folks say, this is like him to a T.

Bill had many village roles. He was chair of the Parish Council and a long time stalwart of the football club – as a player in younger days and then as a club official. He is remembered because the Elisha Field is named after him.

Bill was born in about 1902 and died in 1984.

Mrs Drury with evacuees

January 6, 2016

This photo dates from the time of the Second World War and features a Mrs Drury of High Street in Market Lavington with four evacuee children, all looking a bit miserable, it has to be said. The little ones had been sent from their own homes to an unknown destination where local residents cherry picked children to live with them. Some of the youngsters were lucky and formed lifelong friendships with their foster parents, brothers and sisters. Others were less fortunate. We have no idea how these children fared but they appear to be well looked after.

Mrs Drury and evacuees during World War II

Mrs Drury and evacuees during World War II

We are very short of information on this photo. We think Mrs Drury might be Constance Ethel, known as Ethel whose husband was Bill Drury. They had a house on High Street at the time the 1939 electoral roll was drawn up. But also on that list is a Marjorie Helena Drury of High Street so it could be her.

If anybody can tell us any more we’d be delighted to hear from them.

Reverend Jack Collins

November 14, 2015

John Brenton Collins, known as Jack, was the Vicar of Market Lavington between 1953 and 1958. The London Gazette reported that in 1954 he also held the job at Easterton.

Extract from the London Gazette

Extract from the London Gazette

The only photo we have is of him and his wife receiving a presentation in 1958.

Mr and Reverend Jack Collins in 1958

Mr and Reverend Jack Collins in 1958

The following piece about Jack came from Oliver Clutton Brock.

My interest in the Rev John (“Jack”) Brenton Collins comes because I’m writing a book on a particular POW camp in WW2, namely Stalag Luft VII (Bankau). Collins was captured at Tobruk in June 1942 when he was attached as chaplain to a Royal Artillery regiment. He spent many months in Italian POW camps, and then ones in Germany & Austria before being sent to Stalag Luft VII in November 1944.

When the Germans evacuated the camp on 19 January 1945, in the face of the advancing Soviet armies, they did so in one of the coldest periods of weather that it’s possible to imagine. The long column of some 1,600 prisoners were marched on foot, in a more or less westerly direction, through extreme icy weather with little food and barely any shelter, usually no more than a leaky barn with a dirt floor. This lasted for the best part of a fortnight. All the while the Rev Collins walked up and down the line of tired, hungry, frost-bitten men giving them encouragement, and they thought that he was one of the finest men they had ever known, particularly because he must have walked twice the distance that they did. And they walked around 150 kilometres.

I’m told that he was born on 26th May 1906 and that he died in or near Leominster in October 1992.

He studied at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and rowed in three successive victorious Boat Race crews in 1928-30. At 6′ 4″ and over 14 stone he was the heaviest man in either boat in each of the 3 years. Do people remember him being that large?

The book mentioned was published in 2013. It is called The Long Road.

The Spitfire Fund

September 25, 2015

Who was the little girl?

Local folk who watched the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary to mark the Battle of Britain were suddenly surprised to hear an interview in which the following words were uttered.

“You get people all the way down to a little girl in Market Lavington and she’s recorded as donating all her pocket money – sixpence – to the Spitfire fund. It touched everybody.”

The backdrop to this interview was not local but this is what could be seen on screen at the time.


The whole service is available on the BBC i-player for a month after transmission so you can still see and hear it. The recorded interview, about the Spitfire Fund was shown just after the chief participants left Westminster Abbey – just about an hour and forty minutes through the programme.

We, of course, would love to know who the little girl was. Maybe any locals who did donate to the Spitfire Fund could get in touch with us.

And as a reminder – for we have seen it before on the blog – this picture of a spitfire was created at The Green Dragon out of donated coins. That was in 1941.


Serving men and women

February 15, 2015


This year we mark 70 years since the end of World War II as well as continuing to mark 100 years since the First World or Great War.

We are lucky enough to have a list of the men and women who served in the Second World War, separated out into the streets on which they lived. It is a hand written document and covers quite a large piece of paper.

Men and women of Market Lavington who served His Majesty in World War II

Men and women of Market Lavington who served His Majesty in World War II

We can note that apart from the lists, the paper was used for some working out – but clearly the lists are too small to read so let’s enlarge.


Here we have 63 people – those from The Sands and Cemetery (now Drove) Lane, High Street, Market Place and Northbrook and Parsonage Lane.


These list the 55 people from Spin Hill and Broadway, Church Street and The Spring.


And here we have the 35 people from New Street (more often The Muddle), White Street, Fiddington Clay and Stobbards Row.

That makes a grand total of 153 serving men and women from just the one village of Market Lavington.

Home Guard in 1941

January 4, 2015

In World War II our local Home Guard were able to make use of the Old House as their HQ, We have a number of photos, all carrying the Burgess Brothers, photographer mark, which show members of the Home Guard outside the Old House. This one we have not shown before on the museum blog.

Market Lavington Home Guard in 1941

Market Lavington Home Guard in 1941

We have sixteen men here and the good news is that we have most of the names. Let’s start with the nine men who are standing (from left to right):

F Perry, not known, A Davis, D Perry, L Plank, C Saxton, not known, L Burgess, W Pike. And the seated front row is:

Not known, B Cooper, H Lovejoy, Captain Kimber, W Titt, J Lovejoy, B Gibbs

We are sure there are people out there who can tell us more about these men, willing to defend their homeland in what we now affectionately call Dad’s Army.

Do get in touch if you can tell us anything about any of these chaps.



Latimer Road School – 1942/43

November 7, 2014

It may seem odd that we, at Market Lavington Museum have a register for the London County Council School on Latimer Road.

Latimer Road School register at Market Lavington Museum

Latimer Road School register at Market Lavington Museum

But there it is clearly labelled. This register lists evacuees who came to Market Lavington – now slightly more than 70 years ago. It gives temporary addresses in Market Lavington.

The girls on the register

The girls on the register

Here we see the girls and for many we see the address was c/o or care of a Market Lavington resident. Others, we know, managed to find or were allocated a home for a family. Some of these stayed on and family members still live in the area. The Preedy family is certainly one such.

Edna Sellars, we can see, was care of Mrs Gye of The Sands. Mrs Gye did her utmost to make evacuees one of the family and they appear on family portraits. Here is one of Edna with Mr and Mrs Gye’s daughter Betty.

Betty Gye and Edna Sellars in about 1942

Betty Gye and Edna Sellars in about 1942

Betty has just written some memories and given a copy to the museum. You can read more about her childhood and the evacuees at the museum.