1. Our thanks to MICHAEL CORNELL, a regular contributor, for allowing me to include his memories of wartime in Henham.

We had a doodle bug hit the village around the end of 1944; cannot be to sure of the date as I was only seven, but what happened to us and our house is still very clear. The first thing i remember is a loud bang and parts of the ceiling coming down on my bed, my parents were already awake and the light was on, so other things could be seen such as old birds nests and lose stuff that must have been there for hundreds of years.

The house was around four hundred years old, my father then picked me up and a lamp and started to go down the stairs, when nearly at the bottom we could hear people laughing, we were not aware at the time that our front door had disappeared so we could be seen coming down the stairs.

My father at that time always wore a nightshirt so we must have looked funny from across the road, the story raised some laughs around the village over the years. it just goes to prove even adversity can raise a laugh.

bomb evacuees
a piece of the flying bomb which was found in Forres Cottage on the 25th Sept.
Brownies and evacuees (evacuated from Kings Road School, North Chingford) in Miss Bannister's garden in Henham

- We are very grateful to David Christy who has sent us the recollections of of his father Arthur Christy and Arthur's brother John when they became WW2 child evacuees here in Henham.

On Sunday the 3rd September 1939 Dad took us, my brother John. 7 and me, Arthur, 10., to Kings Road School, Chingford where we were put on London Transport buses, along with lots of our school friends. After travelling for hours we eventually arrived in Henham.

John and I, were allocated to Mr & Mrs Timmins of 'Bays Cottage'.

In the new year (1940) we moved to 'Woodstock', a bungalow in Henham with Mr Albert Salmon & Mrs Doris Salmon. We enjoyed our new country life. Mr Salmon had a big garden and grew vegetables and kept chickens. He also taught us about bird life as the war was hotting up by now. The villagers were digging air raid shelters on the village green. Then one afternoon in August (I think it was) we heard a lot of aircraft. When we looked up we saw a large formation of bombers and fighters. They dropped some bombs and continued on their way. Two days later we were collected and were back in Chingford. These are the memories of John and Arthur Christy. Now resident in Norfolk.


The following information is taken from the excellent BBC website 'BBC - Primary History - World War 2 - Evacuation' article 'How did evacuees travel?'

An evacuation journey often began with a walk to school. Then it was off in buses to the station, where special trains were waiting. It was quite exciting, but most children felt sad as they waved goodbye to their mothers and the steam train puffed away.

Every evacuee had a gas mask, food for the journey (such as sandwiches, apples, chocolate) and a small bag for washing things and clothes. Pinned to the children's coats were labels. On the label were each child's name, home address, school and where he or she was going. Often the journey took several hours.

children wearing mas masks
Schoolchildren practising evacuation whilst wearing their gasmasks. I can still remember the horrible 'rotten-egg' smell of the rubber in my mask.

children boarding a bus
Schoolchildren preparing to board a bus ready for evacuation to the countryside

dover evacuees
Sad-looking schoolchildren from Dover preparing for evacuation. Notice all the name-tags fitted to the coats.

children with gas masks in boxes
Schoolchildren with boxed gasmasks slung around their necks and just one small bag of belongings preparing for evacuation

young children practising their gasmasks

Young schoolchildren possibly practising their gasmasks for the first time (the cardboard boxes look new)

mothers send them out of London
children being evacuated 1939
'MOTHERS Send them out of London. Give them a chance of greater safety and health'

1939 - Amazing how well-dressed so many of these young evacuees appear
VE Day street party

VE Day street party on the 8th May 1945. This photo was taken from near my house in Glenparke Road, Forest Gate in East London. My mother and I had been evacuated from to Coggeshall after V2 rockets hit our street destroying or seriously damaging most houses. My mother had leant across my cot protecting me as the roof and ceilings collapsed across her back. That's me with a blue cross marked on my chest in the highchair at the end of the row of bench seats. I must be looking towards my family. I, at 50 weeks old, can still remember a couple of moments from that day - the smell of all the crushed and wasted food on my highchair wooden tray.

church cottages
3. Our thanks to JOYCE SMITH (nee WILLETT) for her memory.

My memories of war time Henham are very sketchy as I was only 2 or 3 years old. and I don’t actually know how long my mother and I were there.

At the beginning of the War my parents lived in Islington, London, so my mother and I (just a baby) were evacuated to North Yorkshire. However, my mother was not happy there so it was decided that as Henham was my grandfather's village we would go to stay with a Mr and Mrs Snow who lived in Church Street. My great uncle Albert also lodged with them.

Although I was only two or three years old I can remember the cottage vividly; the very high brass bed with a feather mattress, the Well in the garden, which I believe was a communial garden with the adjacent cottages. The kitchen always seemed to be full of ladies making jam.

A very elderly lady lived next door, a Mrs Smith, who was very kind to me. I would stand at the gate looking out for the small girl who lived across the road (the Chase). I had no toys to play with so was delighted when I was invited to play with her (unfortunately I cannot remember her name). There were a lot of Americans billeted in the village and one gave me a 'golly'. This was my pride and joy and you can imagine how upset I was when during a walk across the fields with my mother to take Mr Snow's and Uncle Albert's lunch at Parsonage Farm, the golly's trousers fell off, never to be found again.

Another vivid memory was being taken to buy sweets in the shop opposite the school. My mother told me that my father's cousin owned the shop. (I have recently seen the remains of this shop which was really a summerhouse in a front garden, but I had no recollection of what it looked like). I remember seeing the children playing in the school playground and wishing that I could go to school, but my mother said that I was not old enough.

When the attacks on the American Air Base started (Stansted) and I believe bombs were landing on the village, my mother decided we may as well go back to London.

I visited Henham many times after the war, staying with my father's cousins, Albert and Doris Salmon but sadly they both died in the 1960s. Uncle Albert had died in 1947/8, so it was many years before I returned.