Wartime


World War One

From the evidence of our local war memorials, our area seems to have escaped relatively lightly in the First World War. Only one of those listed on the parish war memorial or in the Acton Roll of Honour has a connexion with the roads, Private Ernest Eldridge, 33, of the Dorsetshire Regiment, was married to a J. Eldridge who lived at 22 Alexandra Road. He died on 5 November 1918, six days before the war ended, and is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey. There also were a number of casualties close by. The first was Private George James Robins, 28, of the Second Dragoon Guards, eldest of a family of nine, who lived at 9 Greenend Road, and died in 13 May 1915, possibly in the second battle of Ypres, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate. The houses opposite in Southfield had three, who all died in the last year of the war. Bombadier George Seabrook, 24, of the Royal Field Artillery, killed in January 1918, and buried near Treviso in North Italy, was the son of a couple who lived at Number 147. Private R.C. Litchfield, 18, of the Royal West Surrey Regiment, who died in September 1918 and was buried at Poperinge in West Flanders, had a brother at Number 163. Private John Manns, 24, of the Suffolk Regiment, killed on 23 September 1918, and buried in the Pas de Calais, was the son of a Southfield Road women.

World War Two

In September the Acton Gazette was reporting preparatory measures that were being taken in case of war. First aid posts and the evacuation of children were planned, volunteers recruited for the auxiliary fire brigade, and trenches dug as protection for people caught in the streets during air raids, including space for 900 in Southfield Road Playing Field.

Evacuation of the children, school by school, took place between 1 and 4 September 1939. The children from Southfield School went to Dorset, and later that month the Acton Gazette carried a report:

LATEST NEWS OF SOUTHFIELD CHILDREN
Happy And Well-Cared For

The following is the latest news for the Southfield School Party in Dorset:
The region in which the children are is a typically rural one, and the kiddies are billeted in houses overlooking quiet and peaceful Dorset farms.
Although regular schooling has not yet commenced, teachers have been very busy. Chief among their present duties is the visiting and inspection of children's billets. In all cases, they have been able to report that the children are happy and well cared for, the response of the local residents here has been truly magnificent.
The head teachers wish to assure parents that there is nothing for them to worry about. Every child is visited regularly, and the utmost care is taken to ensure his happiness and well-being.
The waiting interval has been profitably occupied. Dr Pridham has kindly placed his gardens and lawns at the disposal of the party, and here the younger children have passed many a pleasant hour. The older children have been taken by their teachers on numerous rambles.
Games have been organised on the local recreation ground, and some teachers have taken swimming lessons.
Some foster parents have taken the children for picnics and others car rides in the country around. Several lucky children have been billeted on farms and these have thoroughly enjoyed helping in the farmyard.
PLEASE CO-OPERATE
Parents are specially requested by the head teachers to consult the foster parents of their children as often as possible. Small expenses may be incurred for hair-cutting, shoe-mending and other reparis, whilst new clothes will be needed from time to time. Parents are responsible for these expenses, and it is a great encouragement to foster parents fo feel that parents are anxious to co-operate with them.

The Vicar of St Peter's, the Reverend W.G. de Lara Wilson, remembered how strange it had been to notice on that first Sunday of the war that there were no children in church, because they had all been evacuated.

Incidents of bombing

Street parties


VE (Victory in Europe) Day was on Tuesday 8 May 1945, and the following Friday's Acton Gazette and its subsequent editions were full of reports of celebratory street parties. Alexandra, St George's and Hatfield Roads got together to hold one in Hatfield Road on Saturday 19 May.

Pink and blue paper hats and pink and blue wavers (sic) brightened the victory party for 71 children of Hatfield Road on Saturday. Cakes, all home-made, and sandwiches and a two-tiered victory cake with white icing were provided by the mothers. When the children had finished, there was so much left that the mothers sat down at the tables and had another tea... After the party three large untouched sponge cakes were sent to the children's ward at Acton Hospital. The children's share of the party ended at 9.30 pm when they were sent home, each with a two-shilling [10p] piece. The grown-ups went on dancing until midnight.

Southfield Road held its party on 26 May.

For more information on Acton during the Second World War, see Maureen Colledge's book, Tin hats, doodle bugs and food rations, published by the Acton History Group in 2008.