Ogbourne St Andrew Parish History Group

        Ogbourne St Andrew, Maisey & Rockley
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A school boy's view

Parish > WW2

A scant 21 years after WW1 the parish found itself at war again and a surprising proportion of the population was caught up in either the Regular Forces or War Work.  As a result, the need for labour was filled by either prisoners of war or "Land Girls".  Some children were evacuated here.  The Army held exercises in the surrounding Downs and the odd German bombs fell in the area.  All this is captured in the diary of Oliver Morgan, who attended Ogbourne St Andrew school and whose family lived in Rose Cottage, next to the Wheatsheaf (now Silks on the Downs).  Obviously part of his school work, his diary captures a fascinating mixture of world and local events from 1939, when Oliver was aged 11, to 1943.

A few items give a flavour of the diary, a copy of which is available for members of the History Group to look at.  Our thanks to Oliver’s son Philip for his permission to reproduce these extracts.

June 17 th                   France asks Germany for Armistice Terms
June 24 & 25th:         Air Raid Warnings given in Ogbourne by Messrs. C. H. Joyce: A. Reynolds and R. Simpkins  (12.30am)
                                      Rations for 1940 (per person):  Butter  ¼lb;  Sugar  
½lb;  Cooking fat  2oz; Bacon ¼ - ½lb;  Tea  2oz
October:                      Italy declares war on Britain

March 14th:               Bomb dropped on the Rockley – Marlborough road (one minor casualty)
March 16th:               Other bombs dropped by Manton Stables
May 10th                    Hess lands in Scotland
July                               During the last 4 weeks the children of Ogbourne St Andrew have saved £7 18s 1d – enough to buy:
                                       a rifle (£7), a respirator and case (18/=) and a split pin (1d).
July 7                            President Roosevelt sends American Force to occupy Iceland for the British, thus helping to win the
                                      "Battle of the Atlantic"

July 16th                      Book written by P. G. Wodehouse – the traitor author – taken from our school library.
July 17th                      Seeing a very low flying plane drop a peculiar object, a number of boys ran to retrieve it.  Donald Dyke
                                        picked up what appeared to be a talc(?) shutter.  This is, of course, being reported.
July 30th                      Their Majesties, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth saw a tank battle at Barbary, Rockley.
September 16th         A trooper of the Q.B’s was run over by a tank and fatally injured on Lawson’s gallops, Og St Andrew
                                       [actually Manton – ed].
                                       Eight Italian prisoners employed by Mr. Whatley.  Each man wears a brown corduroy tunic with a large
                                       red patch on the back and smaller ones on the right trouser leg.  The men wear no hats in the daytime
                                        but later in the day have  head gear of Italian pattern.  One of the men can speak broken English, the
                                        rest communicate by signs.
October                        School holidays divided into two periods – one in August and one in October.  Children help with Harvest
                                       and with potato lifting.
November 22 – 29th     Marlborough and District raised £121,000 for the corvette "Snowflake"
[after distinguished war service, she was sold in 1947 and became a weather ship, scrapped in 1962 - ed]
January                        A special "Salvage Drive" held in the district.  Weather was bitter but Daphne Simpkins and Hilda
                                       Godfred(?) organised a party of girls who collected over 6cwt of waste paper, etc.  John Hatch, Donald Dyke
                                       and two other boys hunted up all the iron and rubber they could and Mr Saunders kindly allowed
                                       Mr Mabbutt to go round with a horse and cart and take it to the Vicarage dump.
February 14th           Fall of Singapore
February 23rd           School premises requisitioned as Battalion HQ by a Scottish Regt who are on manoeuvres supposed to be
                                     repelling invaders who have landed on the South Coast.  80 of the men slept in the  school while the
                                     Officers occupied a room in the School House.
March 29th                Palm Sunday.  A Day of National Prayer by Royal Proclamation.  Names of all serving with the Regular
                                       Forces were read out in church. (27); Home Guard etc: (24).
April 21st                    Land Girls are at work with the threshing tackle in the rickyard next to this school.  There are six of them.
April and May      Women work full time sorting, spiking, weighing up planting potatoes for Mr P A Saunders and
                                 Messrs Whatley Bros.
April                             Heavy raids on Bath 2000 casualties.  Marlborough Fire Service called out.  Messrs J. Walker and
                                      O. Potter go from Ogbourne.
May 30th                    Biggest air raid in history carried out by RAF over Cologne.  1,000 planes took part, dropping
                                      900tons of bombs.  44 of our machines failed to return.
May                             Glider, cut loose from tow plane lands on M’boro common with its crew of 7 or 8 men.
June 7th                      Practice of paratroopers landing near Four Mile Clump and Barbary Castle.  The Home Guard participated
September 22nd      Training plane crashed near New Barn.  No one injured.
September 26 th      Sgt Hatch severely injured by tank while walking from Marlborough on left of road.
Sept 23 -  Oct 12      Special holiday for potato harvest.
November                The Archbishops of Canterbury and York declare that, for the future, women and girls will not be
                                    obliged to wear hats in church.
November 20th         Russians gain a smashing victory in the Caucasus.
January 15th               Parachutists, including one with motor cycle dropped on Manton Down (practice by our troops).
April 25th Easter Day.    Grand service in with bells ringing and Home Guard and Civil Defence workers present.

January 2021
copyright Ogbourne St Andrew History Group 2021
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