A village history in West Sussex


Westbourne History Group

Bygone Series

No1. Trades People 1845-1938

No2. Village Schools 1819-1984

No4. Westbourne Then & Now

No5. Westbourne Union Life

No6. Westbourne Church Guide

No7. Cleaning up Westbourne        

No8. Westbourne Worthies

No9. The Bastards of  Westbourne

No10. Westbourne’s War 1939-1945

No11. A Millenium in Tandem

No12. Sindles Farm

No13. Westbourne Memorials

No14. Cottage Economy

No15. The Village Schools 1810-2011

No16. Westbourne and the Great War

No17. Tradespeople of Westbourne

Bourne in the Past

Other Publications

Sindles Farm

The River Ems

The Westbourne Story

Any Comments?

Numbers 1 to 5 inclusive out of print, further information on details and costs visit:


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On the warm sunny morning of Sunday 3rd September 1939, after returning from Sunday School in the Tin Hut (Church Hall), I was playing in Hatchards Lane which we local boys regarded as our playground, when at about 11.25 am. we were told to go to our homes immediately as war had been declared. (This was announced on the wireless at 11.15 am. by the Prime Minister - Mr Neville Chamberlain). So I went the short distance home to “Dellcroft”, close by the Salvation Army hall.

On arriving home, we all waited indoors for the rest of the day to see what might happen as everyone had some idea of taking “Air Raid Precautions”, which had been widely publicised even on cigarette cards during 1938-39. Knowing what had happened in Spain and recently in Poland air raids or something similar were expected almost immediately. Very many people responded in a similar manner to us, but nothing happened.

Next day it appeared to me, a small boy, that life was back to normal, but little did I know that this was to be the start of possibly the most exciting period of my life; mixed with hardship and occasionally personal grief and sadness at the loss of family, relatives and friends. In some of the larger families this must and did sadly occur more often.

On returning to school after the Summer holidays we found we had many new school mates, when a large number of evacuees arrived - most from Wimbledon, with also the few resident children of Thorney Village who had to leave their homes for the duration of the war, and a few from Portsmouth.

This increased the school population overnight by, at a guess, 30% which meant very large classes, but with the leadership of a superb headmaster MR M.W. SIMMONDS and a very dedicated band of teachers, including my teacher at this time MR R. URRY, our basic education did not suffer too much

(How would we cope today?) - though the school remained overcrowded to some extent throughout the war.

Something I’ve always remembered was the large Royal Navy white ensign displayed on the wall in the assembly hall which I saw every morning at 9 o’clock prayers before the day’s school work began. Was it this flag or the tradition on my mother’s side of the family that always drew me towards the ……

Published 1998   ISBN 0 9507496 9 9