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Tollesbury - Village of the Plough and Sail

Evacuees and then Troops

At the outbreak of war I was in my early teens. My father — Mr Willian Juniper — was the Billeting Officer in Tollesbury and 200 school age children were expected in the village. However, when a line of red double-decker London buses arrived in the village they were full of mums with young toddlers and babies.

Tollesbury people rallied round and took in the families. But the London mums were not happy and very soon they were at our house, asking to be moved or to be sent home — they weren’t used to the quiet and many could not accept a toilet out in the garden. Within a week many had gone back to London.

Troops in the village were living at the Guines Court, the Institute and Roosevelt House, some were billeted on villagers.

Every evening a canteen was opened for them in the Congregational school room, manned by volunteers who served tea and coffee, cakes and sandwiches. Games were provided as well as books and a piano. It was somewhere warm and dry for them to meet up.

There was also a small group of sailors stationed in the Control Tower near the railway line, quite close to the pier. Some of the sailors joined the local Tennis Club which had two courts at the bottom end of the Recreation Ground.

I remember travelling to the Grammar School in Maldon, each of us carrying a gas mask and identity card. The school had to share its building with a school that had been evacuated there from Walthamstow. The corridors were protected by baffle walls and when the siren went we had to go and sit on the floor between these walls. When there was an air-raid at night my brother James and I slept in beds in a large cupboard under the stairs.

©Daphne Gurton (Juniper), WW2 People's War
Reproduced under the following terms

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