Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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Memories of School in Wartime
(Joy Wynde nee Hunt)

I started at Willesden County School, as it was then, in September 1942 having been evacuated, first to Northampton and then, after a brief spell at home, to Weston-Super-Mare.  While there we only attended school for half a day, so I was surprised that I passed the scholarship which I sat shortly after coming home.  However I suppose most of the others had spent a lot of time in shelters during the blitz.

For some strange reason on that first day we were lined up in the hall in order of height.  I was saved from being the shortest girl in the school by one of the Howship twins - one was 1/4 inch shorter and the other 1/4 inch taller.  Miss Edgell was our form mistress that first year and, after a while, she decided to change all our seats and put quiet girls next to noisy boys.  It didn't have the effect she hoped for (not in my case anyway!) and she soon changed us back.  I was no good at sport and she wrote on my report - "lacks resilience".  My main memory of those first two or three years was the awful school dinners and how we were sent back if we left anything on our plates.  Apparently this went on into the fifties as did food rationing of course.  After a bit some of us took a paper bag in to hide the gristle and the rock hard cabbage stalks.

I remember Miss Carr, Miss Eaton, Miss Gaetsky, Mr. Southam, Mr. Butler, Mr. Mummery and, of course, lovely Miss Stevenson who was my form mistress in the fifth form.  And who could forget Mr. Wallis our wonderful headmaster who retired in 1947, the year I left.  What a great job he did in difficult circumstances, though we didn't appreciate it at the time.

When the Doodlebugs started in 1944 we would file into the corridor lined with sand bags, when the siren went off.  The fifth formers who were sitting exams had to carry on in the classrooms with big glass windows!

We had ballroom dancing in the hall in the lunch hour to the records of Joe Loss and Glenn Miller.  I loved it and didn't "lack resilience" then!  I also enjoyed being an undistinguished member of the choir and having a small part in one of the school plays.  We sang "Now thank we all our God" in assembly on or just after VE Day and whenever I hear it now I'm transported back there.  Nothing changed much.  We had some younger teachers again but we still had rationing, austerity and horrible news of the concentration camps and the treatment of prisoners of war.

Very few people stayed on into the Sixth Form that year.  The boys had two years National Service ahead of them.  And so after a good final year with Miss Stevenson, I left in 1947 with General School Certificates  in subjects which no subsequent employer seemed interested, a fair amount of self-confidence and a few other intangible benefits.

Joy Wynde (nee Hunt)