The Story of Heyford (Extra): Heyford Residents who served in WW2

Many Heyford residents served in the Second World War 1939-1945 in the various services.

Hazel Adams – Red Cross Nurse, Royal Navy

Hugh Adams – Royal Dragoons

Albert Beharrell – Army

Richard (Dicky) Bishop-Bailey – Army

Ken Boyes – Army

Helen Cadman – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

Arthur Charvill – Royal Navy & Army (MP)

Harry Charvill – Army

Charles Copson – Army

Tom Davies – Fleet Air Arm / RAF

Ralph Faulkner – Bevan boy / Army

Gordon Hayes – RAF

Marjorie Hamborg – Red Cross

Frank Higginbottom – Army

Frank Hyde – RAF

Donald Jafkins – Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders

Ernest Jones – Army

Bill Kingston – RAF

Nan Kingston – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

Jack Lee – Royal Engineers

Joe Matthews – Army

Charles Masters – Army

George Masters – Royal Army Medical Corps

Sheila Masters – ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service)

Sid Masters – Army

Ray Metcalfe – Army

Cyril Mitchell – Royal Army Ordnance Corps

John Moore – Merchant Navy

Rita Moore – NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes)

Alec Nial – Royal Navy

Bill Norrie – Royal Navy

Tom Oliver – Royal Navy

Joan Pearson – Woman’s Land Army

Dorothy Reeve – COD (Central Ordnance Depot)

Margaret Reeve – Woman’s Land Army

Derek Roberts – Royal Marines

Paul Rogers – Royal Army Medical Corps

William Rogers – HAC (Honourable Artillery Company)

Jack Rossiter – Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Dennis Searle – Merchant Navy

Frank Townsend – Army

Arthur Turland – RAF

Mabel Wallace – WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)

William Wallace – Highland Light Infantry

Dennis Weaver – Royal Army Intelligence Corps

Bert Wilkinson – 13/18th Hussars

Rev Wintersgill – Queens Royal Regiment

 

And those sadly killed in action:

Charles Leslie Foster – Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) RAF – Killed in Action 23.5.1944 – Aged 24

Frederick Heeler – Lance Corporal Army – Killed in Action 24.7.1944 – Aged 28

Frederick Watson – Sapper Army – Killed in Action 10.10.1944 – Aged 22

John Bennett Whiting – Lieutenant Army – Killed in Action 1.9.1942 – Aged 25

 

 

Published in The Prattler – July & August 2020

Many thanks to Hugh Adams for originally compiling a list and to those that have contacted us and added to it since the original publication via the

Facebook “Nether Heyford Past” group

Jez Wilson

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Growing Up in Heyford – John Butcher

I was born on Nov 18th 1937 at 15 Furnace Lane, or as my mother always called it Stowe Lane. Our house was built in 1934 by Denny and Sons and for whom my father worked as a carpenter.

I remember little of my early years other than playing with my friend, Norman Denny who lived next door. Apparently my mother used to allow a young girl from the village to walk me out in my pram, she had special needs and it seems a man attempted to rape her. She was sent to Berry Wood (St Crispins) where she remained for the rest of her life, about sixty years. I don’t think anyone from the village ever visited her!

Another of my very early memories was of my father holding me up at the bedroom window to show me Coventry burning and of hearing German planes flying overhead. In June 1942 my brother David was born and because of medical problems he had to have an operation. He remained in hospital for many weeks and my mother had to visit the hospital every day to feed him, so I was sent to live with my grandparents at Caldecote near Towcester. Since I was the only child in the household I was thoroughly spoilt and given the sweet rations of all the adults in the family. It is no wonder then that when I eventually returned to Heyford to start school I was not very happy about it and of course was no longer an only child. On my first day at school I was taken by Daf Thompson (Holtham) because my mother was still pre-occupied with my brother.

At this time my father was working in London and Coventry repairing war damage. He was unable to do military service because of deafness. At the end of the war he was eligible for a large bonus, but he refused it saying it was his contribution to the war in which many of his friends had suffered.

I attended Sunday school as did most of us in the village at that time and each Sunday was given a penny for the collection. However, most of us put a half penny in the collection and used the other halfpenny for an ice cream on the way home. Sunday morning was the time for slaughtering pigs in the village and there was always competition for the pig’s bladders which the butcher threw over the wall, and if you should wonder why, a pig’s bladder makes a great football.

They were happy days which consisted of going to school, playing sports on the green, playing in the brook that ran at the bottom of the field behind my house and cycling around the local villages. Sometimes I would cycle to Banbury with my other good friend, Robin Ellis, we always bought Banbury cakes home to prove that we had actually been there.

I remember V J day September 1945 very clearly. My father was playing in a celebration football match on the village green. In those days, chickens roamed freely on the green and making themselves dust baths. During the match the ball landed in one of the dust baths and unbeknown to my father when he went to kick the ball he hit the side of the dust bath instead, resulting in the bone in his leg snapping, the sound of which was heard all over the green.

When I was 10 we had a new headmaster at Heyford school, Mr Woods, he made drastic changes to the school and the village. He introduced a school uniform and changed the attitude of the village. We were to become the best village school in the county winning most competitions from sport to gardening as well as in the field of education. Two of our pupils, Norman Freeman and Eileen Garrett were selected to represent England in the junior Olympics. Mr Woods together with Mr Wilkinson started the Heyford Boy Scouts and later I became the leader of Peewit Patrol. We often camped at the stone quarry in Stowe and at Brockhall travelling on foot and carrying our tent etc on Denny’s 2 wheel builders cart, quite a journey uphill to Stowe. We once camped at Compton Verney but that time we travelled by bus. Also camping there was a troop of Girl Guides who Mr Woods warned us not to get involved with. However, he did agree that we should dig their latrines about which we were not very happy. We did as instructed, well not quite, instead of 18” wide, we dug them at 30”, quite a stretch for the girls, that was our protest. The estate was overrun with rabbits so on the first night I decided to set some snares and actually caught 3 rabbit’s, but Mr Woods was not happy, accused me of poaching and told me to bury them.

I remember well the winter of 1947 when the whole village was snowed in and the Grand Union canal was frozen. Coal was normally delivered to Mr West by barge so there was an acute shortage. We were rationed to one sack of coal and I remember going up Weedon Road with my parents to collect it by sledge.

At the age of 11 we all took the exam to get into Daventry Grammar School, I failed. However, some time later we were given a second chance which involved an interview with some of the teachers, this I failed too. Some weeks later I was on a train to Peterborough to run in the 440 yards representing South Northants at the East Midlands School competition. One of the teachers who had interviewed me was on the train, he asked ”haven’t I met you recently?” I said yes you interviewed me for a place at Daventry School, but I failed. He said then why didn’t you tell me that you could run? My education could have been completely different.

It was around this time that I had three narrow escapes from death. The first was when I sledged down Furnace Lane and went underneath a lorry which was travelling from Weedon to Bugbrooke. I went under behind the front wheels and came out the other side just before the rear wheels. Next was when my friend Robin Ellis and I exploded a mortar bomb which we had found in Stowe wood (details of this are in an old copy of The Prattler). The next lucky escape took place at Heyford mill which was no longer in use. One day, together with a group of other village boys we started to hoist ourselves up the mill floors on the chain which had previously been used to lift the corn sacks to the top floor. I had my feet in the chain and pulled on a rope that operated the lift, however, as my head went through a trapdoor in the floor, I lost my grip on the rope and was left hanging by my neck in the trapdoor. Fortunately, after a few seconds I managed to find the rope and am still here to tell the tale.

Another tale involving the mill started at a jumble sale at the school. I was sitting in a large armchair and when the time came for it to be sold I bid one shilling expecting others to bid higher. It was knocked down to me and thus I became the owner of a chair that I didn’t want. After the sale, a lady who had just moved into the mill asked if she could buy it from me. I was relieved and gave it to her for nothing and offered to carry it down to the mill for her. My offer might have been influenced by the fact that she had two pretty daughters about my age.

Guy Fawkes night was always celebrated with a large bonfire on the green. We boys would collect the wood from Crow Lane and drag it down to the village. If we were lucky sometimes we would stop a passing truck and ask them to tow it to the green for us. We saved our money to buy fireworks and had great fun throwing Jumping Jacks at the girls.

Another event that remains fixed in my mind occurred in Stowe. In those days children were allowed time off from school to help in the potato fields. We boys together with many ladies of the village were collected in an old army lorry with a tailboard held up by hooks and chains. I think it was Mrs Sargent who jumped from the lorry and landed just in front of me, minus her ring finger which had been ripped from her hand and remained on the hook of the tailboard together with her wedding ring. I swore on that day I would never ever wear a ring.

At the age of 15 I started on a two year O level course at Northampton Tech and along with two other boys we decided during our Easter holiday we would cycle to Scotland. I started out from Heyford and met them in Northampton. After 2 days we arrived in Redcar where we stayed overnight with an aunt of one of the boys. Next morning, they told me that they had decided not to continue but if I wanted they would wait for me for 2 days in Redcar. It was agreed and I continued to the Scottish border and back. Of course, they were fresh as daisies having had two days of rest but for me it was another two days of cycling to return home. I said goodbye to the boys in Northampton and travelled home only to find that my house was locked and empty.

I walked back out into the road to be met by Mrs Eales who told me how sorry she was to heat about my dad. Of course, I knew nothing about what had happened. She told me that he had had a very serious motorbike accident and was in Northampton general hospital and my mother had gone to stay with her parents at Caldecote. I got back on my bike and cycled the longest six miles of all. My father remained in hospital for many weeks and never did recover completely.

When I was 17, I decided I would like to become a Fleet Air Arm pilot, I had big ambitions and went for a medical only to be told that although I was tall enough, my legs were too short. It was after that I decided that I would like to join the Merchant Navy as a marine engineer, even though I had never even seen a big merchant ship. I gained an interview with Shell Tankers and was offered a four and a half year apprenticeship. This was to be 2 years at college in London, 18 months at sea as a cadet and then 1 year working in the shipyards. All was signed up and I left Heyford for the first time returning once a month since my father had agreed to pay my rail fare. I lived in London on a wage of £2.12 shillings a week out of which I had to pay for my food and accommodation etc.

I returned to live in Heyford after 7 years, but that story is for another day.

John Butcher – December 2019

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – April 1952

April 1952

Dear Diary,

There’s still a lot of talk in the village about the train crash last September. The Liverpool Express to London came off the rails just out of the Weedon tunnel. We’ve been learning about it in school. The train, engine 46207 Princess Arthur of Connaught, was travelling at over 60 miles an hour when it left the rails and tipped over the embankment into a field just off Furnace Lane. Several people were injured and some killed. Four carriages were damaged but the last two were full of boys returning to boarding school and their carriages stayed on the rails.

The farmer living opposite, Reg Collins, filled his milk churns with water for the injured and Mrs. Collins cycled down to the Post Office to send telegrams to relatives as there is only one public phone in the village. The Army from Weedon Depot were called in to help and ambulances arrived. The Salvation Army and WVS supplied constant tea and ripped up sheets from local families to make bandages. Most of the villagers helped in some way.

Sad news for the Royal family. The King died in February and Big Ben rang once for each of his 56 years. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth was on holiday in Kenya when she was told that she would become our new Queen. I bet the journey home was long.

A Scout group is to be formed by Mr. Woods the headmaster and Mr. Wilkinson. There are about 20 boys, they are to have pack names like Peewit & Kingfisher and will meet every week in the school hall.

If the weather’s fine, we’re going on the bus on Saturday to Everdon Stubbs to see the bluebells. I hope the ‘townies’ haven’t been on their bicycles and, as usual, gone home with basketfuls of the flowers. They’ll be dead before they get home and we shan’t see them again until next year.

Builders are still very busy putting up new Council houses along Hillside Road and Hillside Crescent. People are putting their names down hoping for one, especially those who are over-crowded at home. I have family who would love to get out of their little cottage at the bottom of Furnace Lane and some who are planning to get married next year, so I hope they are fair in choosing.

I’ve been in trouble this week, that’s why I’m spending more time in my room. On our way home from play the other night my friend suggested we go cherry-knocking. “I’ll hold the gate open, you go and knock the door” she said, so muggings here did just that, and guess what, the minute I knocked the door she was off down the street, letting the gate close behind her leaving me stranded on the path in front of the house.

I might have been able to talk my way out of it if I hadn’t been wearing my bright red duffle coat. “You should choose your friends more carefully” said mum. Grown-ups are no fun.

Polly

Letter published in The Prattler – April 2020

 

The Story of Heyford: Bert Wilkinson V1C12

In 1953 George Warr succeeded Mr Woods as headmaster, and in 1955 he and Bert Wilkinson formed the Heyford cub pack to save the younger boys having to travel to Flore. Like the scouts, the cubs also met in the school hall and regularly numbered over twenty during the 1950s. Bert Wilkinson went on to become Group Scout Leader. He eventually retired in 1977 but continued to take an active interest in ‘his boys’ throughout his life. In 1985 Mr Mike Lane, the county commissioner presented him with the ‘Silver Acorn’, an award of special distinction to the scouting movement. Mr Lane described him as a man who by his example and leadership had set the standard for the future of the generation of boys with whom he had worked over many years. Bert Wilkinson continued to live in Heyford until he died in December 1996.

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 12 of 13 | Page 32

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Memories of Heyford Scouts in the 1950’s V1C11

Heyford Scouts was formed in 1952. The School headmaster, Mr Woods, was the scoutmaster, ably assisted by Mr Bert Wilkinson. During the 1950s it had a thriving troop of more than 20 boys. The troop was split into several patrols – peewit, kingfisher, etc., each with their own patrol leader, and weekly meetings were held in the school hall.

The Scout Troop in the 1950s

StoryOfNetherHeyford_Scouts1.jpg

Back row: Terry Randall, Norman Denny, Tony Lovell, David Butcher, Brian Eales, Anthony Hinnick, Colin Haynes, Michael Eales, John Smith, Colin Harrison, John Haynes
Seated centre: Gordon Cabbam, Bert Wilkinson 
Front row: Michael Royle, Roger Wilkinson, Richard Danby, Ken Garrett

Photo lent by Mrs Mary Butcher

Gang shows
Gang shows were very much a part of the scout year and were always a great success. They were presented on stage in the church rooms on the corner of Church Street and Church Lane and consisted of the normal songs (such as Ging Gang Gooly) and sketches. Rehearsals seemed to go on for ever and parents must have torn their hair out trying to provide costumes for some of these. The show was sometimes taken on tour for one night only to places as far afield as Flore, and it was just as daunting performing to strangers as to family and friends.

Soap Box Derbys
During my time in the scouts the troop entered the National Soap Box Derby. We built our soap box with a lot of help from Grose’s garage, and to our great delight we reached the national final held in Morecambe. To reach there we had to leave the village at about five o’clock in the morning and didn’t return home until late. The excitement of winning, however, got us through. The ‘car’ was on display for a month in the garage showroom, which at that time was in Marefair where the Barclaycard building is now situated. Boy, were we proud!

David Butcher winning the Soap Box Derby at Morecambe

StoryOfNetherHeyford_Scouts2

Photo lent by Mrs Mary Butcher

Camps
From later Spring until early Autumn several weekend camps were held fairly locally, and once a year the annual camp took place. This was always further afield and normally lasted for two weeks. One of these camps took us to the Pendle Hills in Lancashire, and inevitably it was raining when we arrived. After showing us to the field in which we were to make camp, the farmer pointed to the hill behind us and solemnly declared that, “If you can see those hills it’s going to rain, and if you can’t see them it’s already raining.” If memory serves me right we had about one day of dry bright weather in the whole fortnight and I seem to remember using washing bowls to scrape mud away from the front of the tents. No-one suffered any ill effects from this experience however and all returned to the village quite healthy.

During these camps one patrol was responsible for cooking the breakfast each morning and the others all went for an early morning run accompanied by the scoutmaster in order to work up an appetite. Each patrol took it in turns during the week so that nobody missed out on the joys of the run. Breakfast consisted normally of porridge made in a large billycan and coated with golden syrup diluted with hot water. This was followed by bacon and omelette. It was never a surprise if you found a generous helping of grass in either or both courses, but it never had any adverse effects on anybody.

The morning ablutions were always an adventure as we normally washed in cold water. One camp in the Lake District was near to a small stream and this was used by one or two hardy souls.

Street cred
Uniforms were strictly shorts (even the scoutmaster wore them!) and the distinctive hats with the stiff brim, reminiscent of the Canadian Mountie. These were terribly difficult to get flat again once you had bent it out of shape. This often happened, especially at camp.

I spent many pleasant and happy years in the scouts and during that time learned to cook, tie knots (some of which I still use, especially the granny), semaphore and Morse codes (all of which I have forgotten!). I also learned that it was easy to be polite and helpful and that this didn’t damage your street cred. I feel that I am better for the things I did and look back to this time with much pleasure.

Ken Garrett

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 11 of 13 | Pages 30 to 32

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers