My Memories of World War 2:- Alan Geeson

 

I lived at Hall Farm, Coddington, Newark in the war. My parents were Arthur and Mary Geeson and lived there all through the war, my father had shrapnel in one lung so was not fit to join up, in any case farming was a reserved occupation. My only sister was Rosemary born 1940 (now Mrs J Frost) she was too young to remember the war. We had electric lighting in the house, no plugs,  no lighting upstairs or in the buildings, no gas, blackout had to be maintained, no telephone (most people who wanted to phone went to the call box on the main road). No flush toilet or bathroom but we did have running cold water and a form of drainage. We had a range for cooking, heating and hot water but in summer used a primus stove.

Cars were very rare during the war, only about half  a dozen in Coddington (The Vicar Rev. Cyrill Bulley, Col. Hugh Tallents a solicitor who drove a Bentley but rode his bicycle to work in Newark, his brother Col. Harold, several farmers including Ted Daybell and the Holligworth’s even if you had a car petrol was very difficult to obtain and was rationed, transport was mainly bicycle, horse and cart or shanks’s pony. Most people had a vegetable garden and many kept a pig and a few chickens, These were controlled and food was expensive and rationed.

I went to Coddington School until 1944 when I passed the 11+ and went to Newark Magnus Grammar School. I do not recall the infant teacher, the junior teacher was Miss Gomer and at about nine I went into the top class and the teacher was the headmaster John Fordham. Favourite subjects were gardening, games,(cricket in summer, football in winter).

Best friends included Gordon Gibson, Colin Horton (Barnby Manor) the Kirton’s, the Campion’s and Dick and Bill Burgess who lived nearly at Stapleford (3 miles) and cycled to school in all weathers. (I had a note from Bill Burgess at Christmas he is living in New Zealand and he remembers Mr Fordham well.) No central heating in school, pot bellied stoves in each room, we were either roasted or frozen.

We also had a class of evacuees from Yarmouth with their own teacher. Other contemporaries included Ken Maltby, Jim and Ken Bailey various Tomlinson’s, John Hollingworth, various Knott’s , Tony Handbury and among the girls the 3 Kerrs from Flawford, Sylvia Burgess, Nancy Slack, Olive Lee.

I received only a few Christmas presents, very little new stuff. I had a good second hand meccano set and not much else, sweets were rationed severely. I remembered very little about the build up to the war. The family did not hear Neville Chamberlain’s speech on the radio as in those days radios depended on accumulators which had to be charged in Newark and carried home and often ran out of power before the end of the week.

I vaguely recall Polish airmen being around the village as they were billeted in wooden huts in the village in Newark Road. Plane crashes, one crashed and landed in Fairfields Close nearly opposite where Mr Allen’s farm is now off Drove Lane near Winthorpe aerodrome. I don’t recall any others in detail. I remember seeing planes take off from Winthorpe Aerodrome mainly bombers, Wellington’s, Manchester’s, Halifax and Stirling.  There were some Italians POW’s who worked on Simpsons farm, later we had 2 Germans, one Alfons, kept in touch with my parents for many years. I think they were dropped off by lorry from a camp in Newark or they may have biked. I don’t recall any effort to guard them so it  may be near the end of the war. They brought a basic packed lunch, doorsteps of bread with hard cheese.

I vaguely remember a plane went over Coddington about lunch time on the 7th March 1941 which bombed Ransome & Marles Ball Bearing Factory in Newark. and I think we were sent home from school. We were told afterwards that 41 people were killed and 165 injured including workers from Coddington.

Churchill broadcasts were well received.

D Day Celebrations, there was a picnic type lunch and games and races on a grass field, but very little food available due to rationing. Also a church service.

Many people volunteered for all sorts of things, Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens, fire fighting and fire watching. 2 people were on duty all night on a rota my father and George Daybell spent nights in the reading room (now part of the village hall) and walked round the village at night. No street lights, the blackout was strictly enforced.

Roads were very quiet except for military traffic which sometimes came in convoys, sheep and cattle were sometimes driven along roads.

Most people in the village kept pigs, they were killed in winter by Harry Walster from Charity Farm.

There was an army camp off Drove Lane with searchlights and anti aircraft guns, I don’t recall any action.

Whist Drives were held regularly for war charities and some dances and fetes, no trips to the seaside etc but most of the population pulled together and church and chapel were well attended. There were occasional film shows in the school.

The Women’s Land Army used Coddington Moor House as a hostel and biked out to farm jobs daily.

Some incendiary bombs dropped in the village making small craters but did little damage, later a landmine was dropped down Drove Lane which did make a fair sized crater but was away from any aircraft or runways.

Alan Geeson January 2018

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