Miss Iris Stevenson, shown above with Mr. Wallis and Dr. Roberts at the
Celebration for Mr. Wallis on his 80th birthday at Worthing in 1960. Miss
Stevenson, who taught Geography & Economics at Willesden County from 1941 to
1960, wrote the following recollection in 1994/5.
World War Two and Its
In 1937 I went to
Canterbury as Head of the Geography department at Simon Langton Girl's school.
It was in the High Street with beautiful wrought iron gates opposite the
Cathedral. During the week I lived in the little hotel inside the
Cathedral gate and at the weekend in my home in Kensington. I was an Air
Raid Warden in both places. The day War broke out, I donned the full gas
protection uniform of an Air Raid Warden and marched up and down the High Street
in Canterbury ringing a hand bell. When the air raid warning sounded, all
the girls had to cross the road and take shelter in the Cathedral crypt.
One day the school received a direct hit and the girls had to be dispersed all
over the town. The Dean, Dr. Hewlett Johnson, otherwise known as the "Red
Dean", let me give my lessons in his library.
On the day of the Battle of Britain, I
was taking games while German planes were being shot down, their surviving
crew being taken prisoner. Some Polish officers, who had escaped to
England, were billeted in the Buffs Barracks, Canterbury where I taught
In 1941 I began teaching in Willesden County Grammar School, which at the
time had 800 pupils who had not been evacuated from three local secondary
schools. Many were Jewish refugees from Berlin, who were brilliant.
During the holidays the staff worked in Harvest camps. During term
time I was an Air Raid Warden in Kensington, seven nights a week. A
stately home at Hyde Park Corner gave its premises free every weekend for
breakfast for the troops from7-10 a.m. Every Sunday morning I went
there to serve breakfast, not to cook it.
In Kensington High Street there was an expensive
restaurant called "The Trojan Horse". I was on duty with another warden
when it received a direct hit. When we got there not one person was left
alive. They had all drowned when the explosion fractured the water mains.
From 1951-55 I was one of the Foreign Office team
of four, three men and myself, who met twice a year for four weeks at a time.
We had to restore books and fieldwork - that Hitler had destroyed. When
this work ended in 1955, I became a member, then deputy Chairman, and finally
Chairman of the British Atlantic Committee of NATO. I retired in 1975, but
I am still a member.
I was at the farewell lunch for Dr. Adenaur. He said "Never before
in the history of human conflict have the conquered owed so much to the
conqueror. There must be peace in future."
Iris H. R. Stevenson BA