Malcolm Coles - Sheila Huntley - Peter Smith (Pop) - Gerald Hill (Jed) - Sam Smart - Gary Godfrey - John Carter - Terry WeedenPictured on the Melton Road/Well Street Green “The Gun Site”
Terry Weeden was eight years old when he arrived from Walthamstow to experience for the first time the delights of village life - his bedroom looked down on Staff Smith’s farmyard. He remembers: seeing hams curing; new born lambs; tree climbing; fishing for newts; jumping over the brook and playing on “The Gun”. Summers were long, with tea in the hayfields, and the almost certain heavy snow each winter brought the delights of sledging on the Rifle Range.The first schoolroom for the evacuees was the old Scout Hut, where, Terry recalls the inkwells froze. Terry also has an amazing memory for where the evacuees lived and has produced a map.Terry was paid twopence by John Carter’s mother, to keep an eye on him and the two sat together on their journey to Langham and were asked by Mrs Staff Smith if they would like to stay on a farm. The boys accepted, though John says he had little idea of what a farm was. “On entering her home I was awe-struck by the living room with its Welsh dresser, armchairs and brass warming pans hanging each side of a large fireplace containing the kitchen range. The place seemed so strange and luxurious and ‘posh’ that when Mrs Smith asked us what we would like to eat and drink I suggested the two most expensive and exotic things I had heard of: ‘wedding cake and whisky’, (a request Mrs Smith could recall to her old age); I got bread and cheese and a glass of warm milk.”September 3rd 1939 was a significant day. John listened to the broadcast which told him that “we were at war with a place called Germany and, soon after, Mr Smith took his wife and us boys for a ride in his Ford 8 Saloon, oh joy of joys!”John recalls being “educated” in the School, Institute and Scout Hut where he says he must have learned a few things such as ‘real writing. “Our relations with the village children were at first wary... After a while though, as we settled down, we grew used to each other and some friendships were formed.”When the older boys played football outside the Scout Hut the smaller boys had to join in or clear off. John did not like football so took the latter option and says there was plenty to clear off to. “Fields and hills, trees and streams to play round, using one’s school cap to help dam a small stream in the pasture by the Cold Overton Road was a marvellous way of spending a summer morning, even if the penalty was a ticking off for getting the cap in ‘such a state’. Trespassing on and scaling the gorse covered slopes of Ranksborough Hill ... Even being chased from an orchard by an old man in breeches and carrying a crop had its thrills.”John and Terry sang in the church choir and John remembers enjoying the singing, particularly the carol services when another Mr Smith sang the king and Terry the page in ‘Good King Wenceslas’.The boys were also taught the value of saving money, and with Mrs Smith controlling their spending, John recalls having about £21 in his Post Office Savings Bank Account by the time he returned home. Home life was very different from that in Langham and evacuation was an unsettling experience for John, not least because return to London meant parting from Terry who had become an older brother.