The article below was passed on to us by David Snow, a Froyle resident, whose aunt is a member of the Devon Family History Society. It was published in their magazine in May 2004 and, having contacted Claire Siddall, we reproduce it with her kind permission. Claire also added some more memories of her time in Froyle which are below the magazine article.

We lived in Sanderstead Surrey, between Croydon, Kenley and Biggin Hill fighter stations. So, when in the late summer, early autumn of 1940 it became very uncomfortable for us, father arranged for us to spend two weeks in the village of South Warnborough, Hants with the local postman and his wife, a Mr & Mrs Weaver. My father was stationed at Alton not so far away and the two weeks stretched into about 18 months all told.
Claire and cousin Pat Halfyard
I attended the village school, two grades in one room, and one mistress. There was a large black pot bellied stove in the middle, on which there was always hot horlicks to welcome us when it was cold. There was only one nasty experience for me at this school. It was time for us all to go home, when I heard a German dive bomber. I knew what it was, but the other children had never heard one before and wanted to get out to have a look. I was in the doorway and upon looking up at the plane, saw bullets coming towards me, luckily they hit the ground a few yards in front of me, and no one was hurt.

Mrs. Weaver took me under her wing, a child of 7½ who had not lived in the countryside, teaching what was safe to eat from the hedgerows and other country law. We collected blackberries, rosehips, hawthorn haws and sloes. Mrs. Weaver's way of making sure that I did not eat anything poisonous was to give me a sloe to eat!!! It worked as I never ate anything unless I asked her first. We also went gleaning for her flock of hens.

One thing I found strange, there was no bathroom, just a zinc bath in front of the fire, and the lavatory was halfway down the garden. Horrid on a dark night! It must have been after Easter in 1941 that I had to move to another school, being too old for the village school. We village children caught a bus to Long Sutton, where the school consisted of three classrooms, one headmaster and two teachers. Here I was thoroughly spoilt by the staff. The boys and girls had separate play areas and in class the boys sat one side and girls the other. I didn’t have a girl friend at this school, but a boy friend. Tony and I were allowed to sit on top of the air raid shelter that divided the play areas, during mid morning break and the lunch break. I was also allowed to sit next to Tony in class!!

These schools were very happy places for me, but after one and a half terms at Long Sutton School, we moved to Lower Froyle to help a friend who had 18 month old twins. We all lived on the upper floor of the Pub. I went to Upper Froyle school, and oh what a shock, it was Dickensian, the Master always had a cane in his hand and used it regularly on all of us. The boys suffered most of all, especially during the winter when they had chilblains on their hands, as that was the chosen place for a good thwack. The one happy memory of this school was the walk there and back, as we passed the village blacksmith who always had hot chestnuts waiting for us children and we would spend time inside watching him at work with the horses, and getting warm before finishing our journey.

So finished my first war time evacuation.
Claire Siddall, May 2004

In her letter to us, Claire adds these reminiscences of life in the area in 1940.
When my Mother and I went to South Warnborough (some 3½ miles from Froyle) in 1940/1 my name was Halfyard, my Father was an army gunnery instructor in Alton.

While at Froyle we stayed in the “Prince of Wales” pub, all I can remember is that it had a large room with blue lino upstairs, overlooking the road, which we used as a living room. I would also go down and sit under the bar eating Crunchy Bars when Peggy Robinson was behind the bar!!

My time at Froyle School was quite short, about one term, September 1941 to Christmas, and possibly the Spring term. Sadly I cannot recall the names of any of the other children at the school. I do remember that one of the boys and myself used to walk home together looking at the stars, which, of course, were very clear - no street lights.

One humorous moment was at Christmas.

May Holt, the mother of the twin boys in the article (above) had made two small Christmas cakes, one for herself and us, which we had cut into, the other for an elderly couple who lived in one of the cottages along the road. May Holt was just about to deliver this small iced cake, but the telephone rang and she put the cake in its basket down on the floor. Sandy, her scottie dog, could not restrain himself and licked some of the icing from the middle of the cake, but did not get a chance to go any further. What to do, poor May was horrified, but got out a knife and cut out the damaged area, found a small sprig of holly and put it on the cake. It looked great - I often wonder if she ever told the recipients what had happened. I do know they didn’t suffer any ill effects!

The gate in the picture above upon which my cousin and myself are sitting leads into the fields that belonged to Pilkington House and was just opposite Mr & Mrs Weaver’s cottage in South Warnborough.