The War Years

Although the Boy Scouts Association was just seven years old when war broke out in 1914, Scouts were ready to do their bit. They had a strong ethos of duty and loyalty, and it was no surprise that many wanted to play the best role possible in the nation’s war effort.

As Britain entered the First World War on 4th August 1914 Robert Baden-Powell volunteered Scouts to support the war effort; they weren’t to have a military role but could undertake work which released men for service in the Armed Forces. There is much written on the internet about the tasks that were undertaken. They served as messengers, printers, despatch riders and even worked on farms and guarded railway lines. The Sea Scouts assisted with Coast Watching. Although Scouts covered the ages 11 to 18 the majority of war work was carried out by those over 14 as younger boys were discouraged from missing school.

We have found no District records that tell us about the work that Finchley Scouts did during the Great War. However, of the ten Troops that existed at the time some information about the 10th Finchley’s involvement has been discovered. The Troop was formed shortly after the war started and immediately offered their assistance. In addition to collecting old newspapers they were asked to undertake orderly duties at VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospital located at the King Edward Hall in Church End. Seniors enrolled as Special Constables and assisted with guarding railway property. Later a couple of boys worked at College Farm and two Sea Scouts worked as coastguards.

Much of the information given below that relates to the Second World War is taken from a booklet compiled by Derek Warren, through the use of notes taken from the minutes of meetings held by The Finchley Boy Scout Association, and a number of other sources.

In accordance with the Scout motto ‘Be Prepared’, training began in October 1938 following the Munich crisis and in April 1939 a plan of campaign for the whole District was approved by the Local Association. Training and lectures on first aid, gas, and other A.R.P. subjects were also given regularly. Those days of suspense, anxiety and feverish preparation seem very distant now, but they were vital then for everyone expected the Luftwaffe to swoop at once.

1939

  • On Saturday 23rd August a Rover assisted in erecting an Air Raid Shelter (Anderson) and excavations had been made for another one the following Sunday.
  • On the afternoon of August 31st, the Borough authorities called upon the Scouts to distribute calling-up notices to A.R.P. personnel. Within 30 minutes 35 Scout cyclists were collected from their homes, and within an hour 65 were delivering messages. The following evening 50 cyclists performed a similar service, and later in the evening still more were required at the municipal offices. The last Scout reported back at 1.30 a.m. During those two evenings 1,100 circular letters were delivered by hand.
  • On the 1st September there was a request for Scout Messengers at The Health Centre in Oak Lane, the Ambulance Post at Oak Lodge and the Finchley Fire Station in Long Lane. 10 cyclists were immediately supplied and through the month they continued to help as and when required. During this period 955 hours of service was shared by 31 Scouts at the Health Centre, 282 hours at the Ambulance Post by 16 Scouts and 504 hours at the Fire Station by 30 Scouts. Additionally 506 hours was given at Warden’s Posts.
  • Other jobs included help at the Food Control Office, the transport of cardboard cartons by trek cart (these were probably for gas masks), painting kerbs and obstacles white to show up in the black-out, digging trenches, and the delivery of National Registration Forms to Enumerators.
  • In the first month of the war some 150 Scouts served for over 6,000 hours in all their spheres of activity, and this did not include the considerable time given by Rovers and Scouters.
  • The Rovers commenced their service by acting as Stretcher Bearers at Finchley Memorial Hospital.
  • Some Groups were keeping in touch with Scouters who had been called up or evacuated, by issuing regular newsletters and bulletins. Other Groups were encouraged to adopt this practice.

1940

  • Service continued to be given in all areas and although more than 60 Rovers were in the Forces a full quota of them was on duty as Stretcher Bearers at the hospital. It was reported that following some air raids they had many hours of hard work.
  • To assist with training there was a demand for Scouts to act as (mock) patients at First Aid Posts.
  • February 1940 saw the commencement of a National Savings Campaign in Finchley and several Groups helped by distributing 21,000 leaflets.
  • At the inauguration of the Mayor’s Comforts Fund, Scout cyclists and others helped to distribute many circulars and did a useful job in connection with the appeal. A similar request was made for the Finchley Fighter Fund when circulars were delivered and collection boxes taken to local collectors.
  • In April Tolmers Camp Site advised prospective campers that their tents should be camouflaged.
  • During May many foreign refugees were received and both Scouts and Rovers from the 4th, 6th, 8th and 11th Finchley acted as interpreters in French and Dutch.
  • During August and September they then assisted the billeting authorities in finding homes for the homeless from bombed areas in the East End of London.
  • Throughout the year many female Cub leaders assisted on a regular basis at the Fire Brigade and other canteens. Miss Betty Alderson of the 11th Finchley gets a special mention for not only carrying out her duties every day at 7a.m, winter and summer, but she also typed press reports with unfailing regularity each week.

1941

  • One Sunday morning nearly 5 tons of sand was used in making sandbags.
  • Many Rovers in the forces were sent parcels from the Mayor’s Comforts for the Troops Fund with newsletters from the District Rover Committee. For more than 7 months a Scout was on duty at the Depot having put in an average of 50 hours duty per month. Tasks included being a messenger, tying up parcels and general office boy jobs.
  • In April the Mayor Cllr. H.H. Wilmot, having been greatly impressed by the National Service work carried out by the Scouts, extended this good work to all the youth organisations in the Borough. He therefore linked up the Scouts with all the Girl Guides, Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Life Brigade and a Jewish organisation from the Hampstead Garden Suburb. This big organisation was known as the Finchley War Courier Service and covered every road in the Borough. They consequently distributed circulars for War Weapons Week, for the Ministry of Information, the Air Training Corps, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Labour in connection with the Women’s War Work Recruiting Campaign.
  • All Scout Masters and Scouters in charge received details of new plans for Emergency Feeding and Evacuee Centres, in case of invasion or other war emergency. The Borough Authorities viewed the assistance of Scouts as essential in compiling their plans for many emergencies.
  • The first indoor Table Shelter (Morrison).was erected by the Finchley Scouts on 28th May 1941 and up to 5th October, 187 applications to erect them had been received but 41 were put up by the house holders.
  • The work of the Rover Stretcher Bearers continued and they received full issue of Steel Helmets and Civilian Duty Respirators. In November they were severely tested when 2 land mines fell in East Finchley and they helped 27 casualties. Records show that during a one year period 78 Rovers passed through the ranks giving over 50,000 hours of duty. They attended 120 air raid casualties including 15 dead, attended 35 operations and 45 street or ordinary accidents. They also gave blood transfusions.
  • In addition to the waste paper collections, on the 20th September they spent the day, with the Girl Guides, on salvage vans collecting old iron and metal with more than 60 tons collected by tea time.
  • An attempt was made by a couple of Cub Packs to collect weeds and herbs for medical purposes but there was a problem with drying the roots and leaves. However, the Cubs collected cotton reels to be used as insulators by the R.A.F. and with the local Girl Guides they collected a good few hundred.
  • The 81st North London (2nd Finchley), were still doing splendid work in connection with the Wardens at East Finchley. The 5th Finchley provided 2 Scout messengers every evening at the First Aid depot at North Finchley, and the 12th Finchley helped the North Finchley wardens. Four Scout Groups were affiliated to the National War Savings Committee and had collected about £620.
  • Scouts from the 5th and 12th Groups have been acting as (mock) patients to the Mobile Unit choosing their own complicated injuries. The Mobile Unit, of which there are two in Finchley, consisted of a large van fitted up as a complete doctor’s surgery on wheels. Everything was provided, including a portable kitchen, drugs, surgical frames, stretchers and an emergency operating table.

1942

  • In April 220 Scouts and Guides were employed as messengers in a rehearsal of the Borough Billeting and Emergency Feeding Scheme.
  • A report in May says that the ban on using tents was lifted, provided that that they are camouflaged. 
  • Most of the camp site had been requisitioned in August 1940, to form part of the testing ground for tanks after they had been repaired at the REME workshop. The War Office paid a rent of £10.
  • The total for erected Morrison shelters reached 367.
  • The collection of waste paper that had been a continuous task throughout the conflict was, on average, reaping 6 tons each month.
  • Rovers continued to give valuable assistance at the hospital and many Troops provide patients for decontamination practice.
  • Betty Alderson of the 11th gets another mention. Having spent two mornings every week (blitzes included) for the last 3 years, in the canteen at the fire station in Long Lane, she has now joined the A.T.S. and is training as a motor driver.

1943

  • The principal activity for the messengers was on behalf of the Dig for Victory Campaign. 
  • The 2nd & 6th Finchley Groups gave valuable assistance to the British Red Cross Society fete held in aid of the Prisoners of War Fund.
  • One very excellent piece of National Service work was placed on record. One afternoon the Finchley Memorial Hospital phoned urgently for a messenger to take a sample of blood to the Royal Northern Hospital, Holloway. Within 5 minutes a messenger from 2nd Finchley was on his way and he helped materially to save a patient’s life.
  • The Annual Report congratulated J.F. Hill R.N. (7th Finchley) on receiving the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Polish Cross for Valour; and S. Dix R.N. (10th Finchley) on receiving the Distinguished Service Medal. 

1944

  • A Fire-watching service was put into operation at the hospital and volunteers were provided for this work which was of national importance.
  • District records mention that there are 215 Scouts serving in H.M. Forces, and the fact that whereas the number of active Scouters has dropped by 31 since 1938, the number of Scouts in Finchley has risen by 106 during the previous year.

1945

  • The only reference found was that dismantling of Morrison Shelters should only be carried out on instruction from the Borough Council.
  • On the 24th May a Civil Defence Stand-Down Parade was held, for holders of the National Service Badge, at Finchley Football Ground.

Throughout the conflict every effort was made to continue as normal a Scout programme as possible. There was of course concern for the boys’ welfare and a Mr Burrell was put in charge of coordinating this. It was necessary to ensure that effective measures were taken for the protection of Scouts attending Troop meetings and this included the provision of shelter accommodation, the insistence on boys carrying gas masks and keeping them in a readily accessible place in the HQ, the arrangement for times of meetings to suit the younger boys, and the possibility of escorting younger boys to points near their homes during black out times.

Many Scout huts and church halls were being used for the war effort which had an impact upon meeting places and times. A few Groups met together as their leaders had been called up and others were being assisted by Rovers who had not. A number of Groups moved their meetings to Frith Grange and some patrols held meeting in their Patrol Leaders’ homes. Initial reports suggested that most Groups were coping well.

District events continued to be held when possible. There is specific mention of the St. George’s Day Parade in 1940, a comic opera “Aladdin and Out” being put on by 2nd Finchley at the Gainsborough Hall in 1943, the District Sports Day in 1944 when 1,500 tickets were sold and a Scout & Guide Rally also in 1944. Records also show that the District cross country race and swimming gala were also held regularly.

In 1940 both the 12th and 15th Finchley were able to hold special celebrations to mark their 21st anniversary.

As previously mentioned many hours were spent by Scouts collecting waste paper. They would be out on a regular basis with their trek carts loading it high. Here it is probably worth noting the following that appeared in the 4th Finchley’s Church magazine in November 1939: “You may be aware that the accumulation of waste paper in your loft constitutes a grave danger in case of fire. Our Scouts are willing to relieve you of this danger. If you will send a card to R. Cawood, 141 Addison Way, NW11, he will arrange for its collection and disposal”.

Additionally, from 1942 The Scout Council spent time looking for and eventually acquiring a building that could be used as the District Headquarters. Finchley Lodge was purchased and officially opened on the 5th May 1945, just 3 days before VE Day.

 

The Press

The good work being undertaken did not go unnoticed by the press and here are some snippets that have been found:

  • Last week the Rover Stretcher Party attached to Finchley Memorial Hospital took part in two A.R.P “incidents” arranged by wardens in different parts of the Borough. This co-operation between the ambulance service and the Hospital Stretcher Party is of the most value which, besides giving the Rovers practice in the loading and unloading of casualties, enables them to test the timing and disposition of the ambulances as they arrive with their human freight
  • The present war has upset many plans by Scouts for a camp holiday this year, therefore it is refreshing to record that the enthusiastic 5th Finchley Group surmounted all obstacles and had a seven day camp at Tolmers, the Scout camp site in Cuffley.
  • As many people are aware, there is to be a special War Savings Campaign in Finchley during the first week in September when, no doubt, Scouts will be assisting in some form or another at the various meetings and entertainments which will be held to attract the public.
  • The 81st North London (2nd Finchley) Scout Group have very enterprising leaders and the latter’s fertile brains recently evolved another unusual method of getting what they wanted:

This Group is proud of the fact that 30 old Scouts of the 81st are at present members of His Majesty’s Forces. The exact figures being 26 from the 2nd Finchley and four from the old 14th Finchley, which is now part of the 81st.

Since the beginning of the war, cigarettes have been sent regularly to their Service pals, but funds were getting low, so something had to be done. Consequently on Saturday last, at the Better ‘Ole, East Finchley, over 70 friends attended a dance social and admission was by cigarettes only. This novel idea brought in a total of 1,700 cigarettes which will be forwarded in due course to their grateful recipients.

  • The Finchley Rover Scouts, who formed a stretcher bearer detachment at the Finchley Memorial Hospital, were very busy during the Christmas holidays helping the staff to entertain the patients. They also assisted with the decorations of the wards and acted as orderlies. They were rewarded for their efforts by receiving invitations from the Nurses’ Sports Club to a dance, which was held in the dining hall of the Hospital. …It is interesting to note how smoothly the work of the Rovers at the Hospital has been carried on. This is due to the kindly co-operation of the Matron and House Surgeon, Dr. Gardner, who with the staff gave such a hospitable welcome to the voluntary stretcher bearers. 
  • Our tame statistician has computed that since the beginning of the war 44 Rovers have served 5,016 hours of duty, and during their off duty periods have consumed 420 eggs and 1,600 cups of tea.
  • July 1944 Shelter Flash – Congratulations to the 81st North London (2nd Finchley) Group who have erected more than 400 Morrison shelters in the Borough of Finchley.

 

The Hospital

Following the end of the war Finchley Memorial Hospital produced a booklet entitled “Your Hospital in War”. The Scouts get three mentions:

Page 5 – Finchley Rover Scouts

We early sought and secured the attachment to the Hospital for its war work of this fine body of Finchley Youth. We knew that in a war hospital there would be much that would demand their vigour and enthusiasm. Elsewhere we describe something of their work. Having given us their allegiance, they stood by us to the end. As the war years passed, the requirements of the Armed Forces took many of them from us, but always the younger ones filled the gaps. This gallant young band will hold a warm place in our memories, for all that they did, and all that they were.

Page 12

The Rover Scouts are here in strength (and strength will probably be needed before the night is over) for stretcher-bearing, lifting and carrying, putting up and moving beds, helping with the heavy and rough work, taking messages – the handymen of the whole show…

Page 13

…Our young Scouts, the stretcher-bearers, by the light of dimmed torches, carry in the wounded and dead…

As a token of the hospital’s appreciation they presented the Scouts with a clock for their HQ. 

 

The Boy Scouts Association

Following the war the Scout Association produced a booklet entitled “THEY WERE PREPARED” which lists the various activities carried out during the war, and included are a couple of photographs featuring a Rover from the 10th Finchley and 3 from the 5th Finchley.

It also contained the following interesting passage:

“More than 60,000 boys have been awarded the National Service Badge for sustained work as A.R.P. messengers, first-aid orderlies, telephonists, signallers, stretcher bearers, instructors to the Home Guard, assistants in rest centres. Wherever there is a job to be done there you will find a Boy Scout. More than 180 different kinds of service jobs have been listed at the end of this booklet. Many of them are dull, routine tasks; others mean long periods on duty waiting for the emergency and being prepared to meet it when it comes. The Scout has fitted himself for these emergencies by training. He has learnt how to fight fire, how to act if an attack is made with poison gas, how to deal with panic. He has attained skill in first-aid, in relaying verbal messages, in signalling and in a thorough knowledge of his own district . . .”

 

Roll of Honour

Listed below are the names of known former Scouts and Scout Leaders from Finchley, Friern Barnet and Golders Green who were killed during the Second World War (1939 – 1945). We welcome any names which have not been included and, once verified through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, will add them to the Roll.

Name / Group Date of Death Service
ADCOCK, Richard Watkin
186th North London
Aged 27
6 November 1939 RAF Volunteer Service
ALLAN, Gordon William
186th North London
Aged 21
Pilot – RAF Volunteer Reserve
Killed in action in Libya
ALLAIS, Louis Paul Edwin
10th Finchley
Aged 29
20 December 1943 RAF Sergeant
Killed in action over Germany
ASCOTT, Derrick D
5th Finchley
Aged 20
16 March 1944 Trooper – Army
Royal Armoured Corps
BAILY, L E John
10th Finchley
Aged 19
22 May 1944 RAF
Killed on active service.
BARNES, Geoffrey Clifford
18th Finchley
Aged 18
1 July 1944 Army. Private
Killed in action in France
BAUMBER, Robert Charles
186th North London
Aged 20
8 September 1941 Sergeant, RAF Volunteer Service
BROWN, Henry
186th North London
Aged 21
May – June 1943 Trooper – Army
Died of wounds in North Africa
BUSHFORD, Charles
186th North London
Aged 23
May 1941 Observer – RAF Sergeant
Killed on active service
CANNON, Francis Thomas George
15th Finchley
Aged 22
25 August 1942 Wireless Operator – RAF. Sergeant
Died on active service, Wantage
CARLO, Kenneth Frederick
18th North London
186th North London
Aged 25
9 May 1942 Driver – Army. Royal Army Service Corps
CROSS, Alan Frederick Thomas
186th North London
Aged 23
22 November 1943 Signalman – Royal Navy
HMS Hebe
DAVEY, Edwin
186th North London
Aged 22
May 1943 RAF. Flying Officer
Killed in action over Dortmund, Germany
DENYER, John
81st North London (2nd Finchley)
Previously of 9th Finchley
14 March 1943 RAF Volunteer Reserve. Sergeant
DORMER, Richard Percy
186th North London
Aged 25
4 April 1943 RAF
FISHER, Leonard
12th Finchley
Aged 19
2 July 1943 Pilot – RAF. Sergeant
Killed in a flying accident, England
GILMOUR, John
10th Finchley
Aged 25
26 May 1941 Leading Cook – Royal Navy
Killed in action in Crete, H M Submarine.
HALE, Eric William
186th North London
Aged 20
14 October 1942 RAF. Leading Aircraftman
Killed in a cycling accident.
HOLDING, Dennis
12th Finchley
Aged 19
9 July 1943 RAF. Sergeant
Killed in air operations over Holland
KELLAND, Allen Fooks
186th North London
Aged 21
12 June 1944 South African air Force. Warrant Officer
LAMERTON, Roy Charles
4th Finchley
Aged 30
6 December 1942 Observer RAF. Sergeant
Killed in action over Holland
MACCONNELL, Stanley
10th Finchley
Aged 19
12 November 1943 Royal Navy. Leading Seaman
Accidentally killed on ship at port during firing practice.
MARTIN, Norman (John) Sebright
10th Finchley
Aged 19
23 November 1943 RAF. Sergeant
Killed in a flying accident
MEIGH, Trevor D
10th Finchley
Aged 21
20/21 January 1944 RAF. Flight Sergeant
Killed on active service
NEWSTEAD, James
12th Finchley
Spring 1942 RAF
Killed on active service in the Far East
OWEN, Patrick R
11th Finchley
Aged 21
31 August 1941 Pilot Officer – RAF
Killed whilst flying near Lincoln
PUGH, Rev. Herbert Cecil, G.C.
94th North London
Aged 42
5 July 1941 Chaplain – RAF. Squadron Leader
Gave his life in the service of others, on board the troop ship ‘Anselm’.
RENDALL, Francis
10th Finchley
Aged 29
21 June 1941 Pilot Officer – RAF
Killed on active service
RYALL, Walter Ernest
94th North London
Aged 28
27 April 1945 Gunner – Royal Artillery
SMALE, Geoffrey
12th Finchley
Aged 32
8 May 1945 Flying Officer – RAF
Killed on air operations over Denmark
SMITH, Kenneth William
94th North London
Aged 21
9 July 1944 Fusilier – Royal Fusiliers
STEAN, Kenneth Victor
11th Finchley
Aged 19
31 March 1941 RAF
Killed in a flying accident whilst training
STEED, Roy Thomas
195th North London
Aged 28
13 July 1943 RAF. Flight Sergeant
Killed on active service
WILLIS, Sydney Ralph
186th North London
Aged 20
7 May 1941 Pilot (U/T) – RAF Volunteer Service
WILLIS, William Leonard
186th North London
Aged 28
4 November 1942 Army. Rifleman, King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Gallery

Click here to view photos associated with Scouts during the war.

 

Memories

Shortly after our Troop was formed in 1914 we offered to help with the War effort. In addition to collecting old newspapers we undertook orderly duties at the temporary hospital at the King Edward Hall. We had quite a good time making cocoa, cutting bread, rolling bandages and any odd job that came our way, even to providing entertainment for soldiers who were always pressing us to give them a show. Bert Darrington was a great favourite there being on duty almost every evening. He had a bed fixed up on the balcony for his use at such times as he stayed late, which was often.

Eddie Holiday and Dudley Wright, both Sea Scouts, were on coastguard duty. George Millward and Ken Darrington had some sort of job at College Farm. What this job was nobody ever discovered, for on each occasion I visited the farm they were usually sitting on a fence enjoying the company of several land girls.

Many of the seniors became Special Constables and their work included guarding signal-boxes, junctions and tunnels. However, the best thing they enjoyed was being able to ride their bicycles without lights.

When the Second World War started ’Pop’ Barclay was called up for military service and he started his Forces News Bulletin. By September nine members had been called up. The seniors, like other Groups helped build shelters, provided stretcher parties at the local hospital and undertook ARP duties.

The Rovers launched a ‘Cigarette Fund’ to keep service members supplied with cigarettes and this continued until there were no more Rovers and cigarettes became too difficult to obtain.

Albert Hartley – 10th Finchley

(Extracts from his book ‘History of the Tenth Finchley’.)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Just before the second WW started and in the early war years, older Scouts / Rovers helped in many ways, being dispatch riders, stretcher bearers, erecting air raid shelters. A lot of time being spent at Warden’s Posts or Finchley Memorial hospital, and after so many hours they were awarded a National Service badge. 

As they got older they were called up and our Rovers went into all three services. We were fortunate to have our GSL Charlie Roberts in a prime occupation, so he kept the Group going with help from rovers before they were called up. 

When the leader of the 5th Finchley at the Congregational Church in Nether Street was Called Up, the Scouts came down to join in with our activities, then when he returned most of them went back to get the 5th into action again.

Ken Stallworthy who lived in Stanhope Road opposite the Hall was also a great help. In the first two or three years meetings were held on a Saturday afternoon, and then after the Blitz we reverted back to the evenings. But there was still a blackout so no lights could be shown, which meant you covered the torch lens leaving just a slit so you could turn it on when you got to the curb. There were quite a few bombs dropped in the area and one that landed in Stanhope Road. This destroyed Ken’s house, but luckily, he was at the Hall. 

Once the war was over the Rovers started to be demobbed, so the Old Boys section started up and this really flourished for many years, the last of them that had been in the war died in 2016. We should have written a book on all the tales that were told at the Old Boy’s camps, especially over a pint at the local, or when getting back to camp and having a mug of cocoa and a chunk of bread and cheese. 

Derek Warren – 15th Finchley

(Extract from ‘Our Story’)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My time with the 186th North London was just before and until shortly after the war. I arrived just as Melville Balsillie left for Canada and Jim Widgery took over. At the time I lived in Oakleigh Road North, opposite the Russell Road opening. Beyond our garden was a relatively large triangular area filled with fruit trees, allotments, and grass. This was mostly owned by the Allan family of Loring Road. Stanley, one of the sons was a Scout and he introduced my brother and me to the Group. 

Gordon an older brother of Stanley, who was a Rover, became an RAF bomber pilot at the outbreak of war and later ‘Missing in Action’ in North Africa. Another of his brothers, who had been an RAF pilot, was also killed in a plane accident in Egypt before the war. As for Stanley, he and his younger sister were evacuated to the Los Angeles area.

During the war while the church hall was being used by the Army we met in various places, including a room in the All Saints’ Vicarage and the TOC-H hut on the High Street while members’ houses were used for patrol meetings. During the war the troop ran messages for the Air Raid Precaution Wardens.

Alan Smith – 186th North London

(Extracts from a letter written in December 2014)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So two years later at the age of eleven I arrived back in London, my parents had been bombed out so they were now living in Finchley, London. There I joined the Boy Scouts and when I reached thirteen I was allowed to be a stretcher bearer at Finchley Memorial hospital, one night a week taking the place of porters as men were at war in the army, we would do all jobs looking after patients who had just had operations. We were also on standby waiting for air raid victims to come in by ambulance. We had to take people who had died to the morgue, I will always remember June 6th, the day we now know as D. Day, I had to move eight bodies, one from the ward but when we arrived at the morgue there were seven others already there, so we had to move them around to make room for our one, I think I heard every plane going to France that night as I could not get to sleep, now they would say I need counselling.

 

After I came off duty at 7.a.m. I had to do my paper round before going to school, sometimes if we had a bad night like June 6th very tired, I even had a greengrocers round in the evenings after school.

 

We also went to people’s houses to erect Morrison shelters for them, these were large iron tables with wire cages all around, so people could climb in underneath to sleep in case the house was bombed.


I went to work when I was fourteen and the war ended when I was fifteen.

 

An extract from the web site – BBC WW2 People’s War – A Child’s War – 2014

Contributed by Frank Kemp

Look up your local Scout Group, because you’ve got a safe, practical community who will encourage and support you.'
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls