Acocks Green Junior School in World War Two
The appearance of my school changed considerably soon after the Second World War started. Strips of sticky brown paper were glued criss-cross fashion over each window pane, the idea being that it might prevent broken glass flying about if a bomb exploded nearby. Outside, very high and thick brick walls were built about a yard away from the school house wall with occasional gaps at the various exits and entrances. This meant that a lot of daylight was blocked from the classrooms.
I suppose that because of the dangers of war, First Aid was introduced into the school curriculum and I think we had lessons in this subject at least once a week. We were taught by a teacher who had been in the army and had served in Russia during his service. His name was Mr. Holder, and he worked very hard as a teacher despite his years, and he served as a Special Constable all through the war years.
We also had a teacher who was supposed to have a German background and he was a very strict disciplinarian. He had a foreign name and I think we disliked him more than we did Adolf Hitler, although on reflection I don’t doubt that he was just as patriotic for our cause as we were. As children we thought that he was a German spy, a Nazi, and all manner of nasty things and we probably gave him a bit of a rough time. Mind you, he gave us a rough time too.
In the school garden several long dug-out air-raid shelters were built for the staff and pupils and they were used fairly frequently as the war progressed and daylight air-raids began. We used to sit in long lines down the sides of the dank smelling shelters, but we used to sing a lot to pass the time. Sometimes young David used to flatten his dark hair over one eyebrow and raise his right arm in the Nazi salute and let out long streams of hysterical mock German in Adolph Hitler style, which gave us all a really good laugh.
I think most of us children enjoyed the blitz. What we didn’t like was carrying our gas masks whenever we went out, and if we arrived at school without one, we were sent home to fetch it, and usually given 50 or 100 lines as punishment, and we hated Hitler for this reason alone. But our morale always seemed very high.
Whilst at school for most of the air-raid warnings we would march in quite an orderly fashion to the shelters, and we would not hear or see anything of the raid and it just meant that we missed a lesson. But on one occasion the air-raid warnings sounded and we grabbed our gas masks and in crocodile fashion trooped out of the school and headed across the playground towards the shelters. We all looked up on our way and quite a lot of us stopped to watch a ‘dog fight’ between our Hurricanes and Luftwaffe fighter planes almost directly overhead, until teachers shouted at us to run for shelter. It really was quite a spectacle, and a very noisy and an exciting few moments for us, and we would dearly have loved to have seen the whole of the air battle instead of being sheltered underground.
A break from school routine was sometimes made when buses would call at the school on autumn days for taking children to somewhere in the Evesham or Bidford area for what was known as ‘Spud Pickin’. I’m afraid I didn’t go on these country trips because I was considered to be not strong enough. Whether my school friends enjoyed it or not, I do not recall, but I think Wellingtons had to be worn and the weather was usually wet on the days that they worked the potato fields.
Towards the end of the war air-raids became less and less frequent, but ‘Jerry’ then commenced sending ‘Doodlebugs’ and later their ‘V’ rockets, all of which seemed to be aimed at the London area. As a consequence I can remember being at Tyseley railway station watching long trainloads of London evacuees arriving and being taken by convoys of buses to the dispersal centres to be billeted out. Some of the evacuees of course attended my school so that some of the classrooms bulged at the seams with the number of pupils having increased The majority of the evacuees seemed to settle in very well, and as far as I know were reasonably happy with us.
Eventually the war and the rocket blitz melted away and VE Day dawned. Not long afterwards Victory Parades were organised. I remember staying on at school after ‘home time’ and we took our places along the school wall which overlooked the Warwick Road. At about 5 o’clock the Victory Parade marched past headed by Winston Churchill in a large open car. The big crowd gave him and everyone else a wonderful reception. There were contingents from all the armed services as well as the Home Guard and other local organisations.
It was a marvellous event and an unforgettable one.
TEACHERS AT ACOCKS GREEN JUNIOR SCHOOL 1940 – 1945.
Headmaster: Mr. Morrell.
Miss Goldsmith, Miss Jones, Miss Thompson, Mr. Holder, Mr. Scheifler. (Audrey Bagby, née Hussey, also recalls Mr. Mason and Miss Dry, the cookery teacher.)
CLASSMATES & PUPILS – 1940 – 1945.
Eric Allen, Arthur Allsop, Ceciley and Alan Barclam, Leslie Ball, Bob Benson, Barry Bodenham, Paul Brettell, Malcolm Campbell, Pat Carpenter, Douglas Cheeseman, Denis Chinn, Brenda Cheshire,John Collett, Gillian Corner, Margaret and Barry Cottle, Patrick Dodson, John Evans, Gordon Farley, David Forster, Bill Friday, Ron Gabb, Ted Green, John Hall, Joe Hanson,Leon Harper, Madge Harper, Frank Harris, John Harvey, Pamela Hoare, Roy Holden, Gordon Holt, Betty Hook, Sylvia Jacobs, Frank Jenkins, Roy Jenson, Keith Kettle, John Llewyllen, David Maserwright, Brian Masters, Ken Miles, Pamela Mortimer, Irene Pace, John Palfrey, Ralph Pearson, Maurice Pitt, Brian Powell, Geoffrey Price, Pat Roberts, Geoffrey Rogers, Bill Scott, Pete Smitton, Joan Thomas, David Walker, Douglas Wilkins, Brian Williams, John Yates.
(Audrey Bagby, née Hussey, recalls more names: Audrey Hussey (myself) Janet Hussey, Barbara Griffiths, Maurice Street, George Bagnall, Pat Smallwood, Anne Chalk. Janette Chalkley, Jean Richards, Dorothy Brown, Les Steel, Gladys Mainland, Tony Siviter, Beulah Hinton, Sheila Warner.)