On The Home Front
The People and Parish of North Mymms 1939-45
Published by the North Mymms Local History Society
Chapter Five - Children in the Parish
The children of the parish attended school during the war, albeit with some disruption at the beginning.
Some re-organisation was necessary to accommodate the evacuee children.
To allow this, the Waterend school was closed for a week 'or until further notice.'
Evacuees came from Highgate Mixed County School and the Chelsea Roman Catholic School.
On the 25th September it was reported that the Highgate and Chelsea children were to attend school from 9am to 12.30pm and the local children from 1.30pm to 5pm. Mrs Baxter of Home Farm gave the school the use of Home Farm for two days a week.
On the 22nd September 1939 trenches for air-raid shelters were finished and also dark curtains for the windows.
Mr Newsom, the Education Office, Mr Jeffares and the head-teachers of the evacuated schools met at the Men's Institute on the 22nd November 1939 and it was decided that the evacuees and local children would continue half-day shifts in school and half-day for the Girls school at the scout hut as it was also used for meetings.
A committee was formed in 1939, which decided to make arrangements for making the Christmas holidays a happy time for children. It was decided to open the scout hut on December 28th so the parents of the children from London could be together.
It was also arranged to provide a treat for the children on the 2nd and 3rd of January in the boy’s school. The vicar felt sure that 'all will be glad to help in other ways to entertain the children and to give them occupations during the holidays. The government urges parents not to be so unwise as to take them home.' The treats turned out to be delightful and Mr Lyons gave a Christmas entertainment.
In 1939, the preparatory school at Moffats was evacuated and taken over by Roman Catholic nuns. After 22nd February 1940, the children from Highgate attended at Moffats, Brookmans Park.
The Roman Catholic girls who attended at Waterend School were, from April 1940, to take lessons all day in the scout hut, thus enabling the local children to be in school for their usual lessons, while the Highgate infants occupied the middle classroom. There was also a school situated at 39 The Grove called Ithaca House which was in existence during the war years.
A nursery school was opened during 1942 for the infant children (2-5) of mothers who were engaged in war work (including domestic work). There was room for thirty children.
A fully trained and qualified matron was in charge assisted by a teacher and assistants. The children were in, 'happy surroundings and occupied by games and lessons.' Girls were required as probationers, who after two years satisfactory service could qualify as assistant teachers. The charge to the mothers was one shilling a day including breakfast and lunch.
There were organisations which the children could join. The North Mymms Guide Company and Brownie pack met at Frowick House by permission of their Captain, Miss Albury. The guides met on Saturday and the Brownies on Wednesday afternoon. The Brown Owl was Miss Tyler of 19 Pooleys Lane.
It was stated in the parish magazine that they had been glad to welcome the London Brownies and Guides who were living in the parish.
The 1st North Mymms Scouts , under the leadership of Mr Saxby, went to camp at Sidmouth in August 1939, where most of the members passed their cookery test.
At a meeting at Moffats on May 15th 1943, the 1st Brookmans Park Troop was inaugurated. A large number of boys enrolled with Mr Robertson as Scout Master. They held their flag dedication service at North Mymms Parish Church on January 30th 1944.
The Group Union Jack and the Troop Flag were presented by Mr and Mrs Brown of 3, The Grove and the Wolf Cub Flag by the Potters Bar Boy's Brigade.
The sermon was preached by the Rev. Leonard, Rector of Hatfield. The Right Hon. Lord Clauson inspected the group after the service and referred to the fact that General Sir Oliver Leese, commanding the 8th Army, was a North Mymms Boy Scout and expressed the hope that the members of the group would live up to the high tradition of the movement and find inspiration in the flags which had been dedicated.
Earlier it was reported, in the parish magazine of February 1940, that the Boy's Club being was being successfully carried on by Mr Bradbeer and his helpers. A small billiard table had been purchased and part of the takings at the club were to be devoted to the purchase of comforts for the forces.
Leslie Abbott recalls that Moffats School was evacuated to the West Country. "It was then decided it should be a home for refugee children from London. These children were billeted onto various houses. We had not been married long, we hadn't got much money and our spare bedroom had still not been furnished. Along somebody came and said "You've got two small children". They were scruffy and looked as if they hadn't had a bath for years. They were given palliases on which to sleep in our spare bedroom.
Something was wrong about this and next morning a nun came along and said, "have you got two small boys of so and so name?" We said, "yes, why? "Oh dear, oh dear we have been looking for these two children, they shouldn't be with you, they should be with the nuns." So these two poor scruffy little boys were taken off with the nuns and put in the care of someone else."
Leslie Abbot also believes that at Gobions Open Space (then leased or belonging to the Cannons who had Moffats Farm) they had cows and a haystack right at the bottom near the pond. He thinks it pretty certain that this haystack was set alight by some of the evacuee boys and was too much of a blaze for the Brookmans Park Fire Service to put out. "It needed a real fire service to do that!"
NORTH MYMMS SCHOOLS, CLUBS, Etc., 1939
SUNDAY SCHOOL at Waterend, for Boys and Girls, every Sunday Morning from 10 to 10.40. At Bell Bar, every Sunday Afternoon 3 p.m.
On The Home Front - The People and Parish of North Mymms 1935-45
Index - On The Home Front
Chapter One - A Message From The Vicar
Chapter Two - The Special Constabulary
Chapter Three - The War Comes Home - Parish Bomb Damage
Chapter Four - The Auxiliary Fire Service
Chapter Five - Children in the Parish
Chapter Six - Keeping Busy on the Home Front
Chapter Seven - The North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital
Chapter Eight - The Secret Visitors
Chapter Nine - Church and People
Chapter Ten - Epilogue
Chapter Eleven - People
North Mymms Parish Magazine
Crockford's Clerical Directory 1939
Who's Who 1988
North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital 1940-46: A brief description by H.M.Alderman
Who Was Who (various years)
Note: Many thanks are due to Dick Colville and Leslie Abbott for allowing their reminiscences of the war years in the parish to be published. Also to Mr Colville for allowing the essay by his wife Dorothy to be reproduced. The North Mymms Local History Society