We had a doodle bug hit the village around the end of 1944; cannot be to sure of the date as i was only seven, but what happened to us and our house is still very clear. The first thing i remember is a loud bang and parts of the ceiling coming down on my bed, my parents were already awake and the light was on, so other things could be seen such as old birds nests and lose stuff that must have been there for hundreds of years.
The house was around four hundred years old, my father then picked me up and a lamp and started to go down the stairs, when nearly at the bottom we could hear people laughing, we were not aware at the time that our front door had disappeared so we could be seen coming down the stairs.
My father at that time always wore a nightshirt so we must have looked funny from across the road, the story raised some laughs around the village over the years. it just goes to prove even adversity can raise a laugh.
Thanks to Joyce Smith (nee Willett) for her memory.
My memories of war time Henham are very sketchy as I was only 2 or 3 years old. and I don’t actually know how long my mother and I were there.
At the beginning of the War my parents lived in Islington, London, so my mother and I (just a baby) were evacuated to North Yorkshire. However, my mother was not happy there so it was decided that as Henham was my grandfather’s village we would go to stay with a Mr and Mrs Snow who lived in Church Street. My great uncle Albert also lodged with them.
Although I was only two or three years old I can remember the cottage vividly; the very high brass bed with a feather mattress, the Well in the garden, which I believe was a communial garden with the adjacent cottages. The kitchen always seemed to be full of ladies making jam.
A very elderly lady lived next door, a Mrs Smith, who was very kind to me. I would stand at the gate looking out for the small girl who lived across the road (the Chase). I had no toys to play with so was delighted when I was invited to play with her (unfortunately I cannot remember her name). There were a lot of Americans billeted in the village and one gave me a “golly”. This was my pride and joy and you can imagine how upset I was when during a walk across the fields with my mother to take Mr Snow’s and Uncle Albert’s lunch at Parsonage Farm, the golly’s trousers fell off, never to be found again.
Another vivid memory was being taken to buy sweets in the shop opposite the school. My mother told me that my father’s cousin owned the shop. (I have recently seen the remains of this shop which was really a summerhouse in a front garden, but I had no recollection of what it looked like). I remember seeing the children playing in the school playground and wishing that I could go to school, but my mother said that I was not old enough.
When the attacks on the American Air Base started (Stansted) and I believe bombs were landing on the village, my mother decided we may as well go back to London.
I visited Henham many times after the war, staying with my father’s cousins, Albert and Doris Salmon but sadly they both died in the 1960s. Uncle Albert had died in 1947/8, so it was many years before I returned