Added March 2010
Now - Bourne, Lincolnshire
Born in 1930 at Keepers Cottage, Shalford, Essex - died January 2016
A memory of the Second World War - 3 September 1939 - (70 Years on)
In my young days before we declared war against Germany on 3 September 1939, I used to enjoy a weeks holiday with my Uncle and Aunt at Streatham. My Uncle Sidney Candler (born in Shalford) was in fact a cousin of my father. He always used to take me to Crystal Palace and to the Brooklands Car Racing circuit to see car racing. Being an Inspector in the Metropolitan Police he always seemed to obtain the best seats for us. My Aunt Emily was a most lovable person. The other highlights of my visit to them was to be taken by her on the train to London to be shown the sights. Every trip culminating in a visitor to a Lyons Corner House before our return home on the train. My favourite meal was sausage and chips. They must have been of a good quality, as I have enjoyed sausages ever since.
I still remember that fateful date so clearly. About loam on the 3 September, my Uncle Sid came home from the Streatham Police Station. My Aunt asked him why he was home in the middle of his shift and he said, we will be declaring war on Germany at 11 o'clock and I felt I should be at home with you and young John when our entry into the war is announced by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.
He turned their radio on just in time for us to hear the announcement by Chamberlain that we were at war. I remember those words so wet!. My poor Aunt burst into tears but soon recovered to ask my Uncle, how on earth are we going to get John back to his parents in Shalford?
I did not hear their discussion, but can remember my Uncle telephoning the Police Station to say he would be taking the rest of the day off as he had to get me up to and across London to Liverpool Street Station to get me on a train to Braintree. He also telephoned Hornsby's Garage in Shalford (my parents did not have a telephone) spoke to Walter Hornsby and asked him to let my parents know what was happening and he hoped to get me on a train soon after lunch on the following day. He would of course confirm this so my father could meet me at Braintree Station.
When we arrived at Liverpool Street I was looking forward to another train journey. However the station was packed with children, carrying their gas masks, small cases and all wearing labels. Being only nine years old I did not realise this would almost certainly prevent me getting onto a train, all had been reserved for the evacuees. My Uncle producing that wonderful document, a policeman's Warrant Card soon sorted things out. He did have to get quite angry, meeting and discussing my need to get home with whom we would call today a ’Jobsworth'. He soon put him straight and he finally agreed I could travel in the Guards Van. The Guard was a very kind person and I remember my Uncle giving him a tip to make sure he looked after me and that I got off the train at Witham, to transfer to the Braintree train. I was very proud of the special label I had put on my lapel with a safety pin. The train was of course late arriving at Witham, but I did not have to worry about finding the Braintree train, Eric Tanner had loaned my father his car and was I pleased to see him standing on the platform at Witham waiting for me.
John W Harvey
3 September 2009