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On The Home Front

Scan of the cover of On The Home Front. The People and Parish of North Mymms 1939-45 published by the North Mymms Local History Society

In September 1939, soon after Germany invaded Poland and war had been declared, the vicar of St Mary’s Church, North Mymms, the Reverend Leonard Buxton, sat down in his study to write a special edition of his parish magazine. Six years later, following the ending of the war, the then vicar at St Mary’s, the Reverend Lionel Hamel-Smith, composed another message to parishioners. Both pieces of writing feature in this collection of articles about 'The Home Front' in North Mymms during the Second World War 1939-45. Website editor, January 2018.

Table Of Contents

The People and Parish of North Mymms 1939-45

Scan of the parish magazine for St. Mary's Church, North Mymms of September 1939

Chapter One


The following is a letter the Rev. Leonard Buxton wrote to his parishioners in the September 1939 magazine.


On September 1st Hitler's troops and aeroplanes invaded Poland. And on September 3rd Great Britain and France, in fulfilment of their promise, declared war on Germany. That very briefly, as we all know, was the immediate cause of war. But we also know that we are not only fighting for Poland but for those eternal principles of righteousness, mercy and good faith upon which alone security and peace can be based. It is those principles that we must keep in mind and thus carry on the struggle for victory and calmness with courage and confidence.

It is for this reason that I believe we, as Christians and members of the Church, have a supremely important part to play in this war. All that is best in our Western civilization is the result of the Christian faith. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world and that in Him and Him alone, can be found the way of reconciliation between all nations. It is for us during war to lift high the torch of faith, hope and charity. We must show the spirit of Christ in quietly doing our duty, bearing suffering and loss without complaint in showing compassion to all who are in trouble. We must eschew all feelings of hatred and bitterness, and endeavour to sow the seeds of justice and mercy, which, please God, will one day bring forth the harvest of peace. In our parish we can try in every way to do our duty. One obvious task is to care for the children whom we are sheltering in our home, to provide occupation for them, and to make their lives happy. We can also volunteer for various forms of service and, as far as possible, give our time freely to the service of our country.

Above all we can attend our gatherings for public worship, whether at the Holy Communion or at other services. There we can meet God and find in Him unfailing sources of strength and courage. There too we can offer our intercessions for our rulers, for the men engaged in war, for our enemies, and for the final victory of the truth.

The Church is entrusted with the faith which alone can save mankind. Let us be sure of that ourselves and not be afraid to bear witness to it.

On Sundays, Evensong is being held at 3.30pm and, hitherto, good congregations have found it possible to attend at that hour. The morning services are held as usual, but there will not always be a sermon when there is a celebration of Holy Communion at 11am. In response to the request of several members, there will also be a mid-week celebration on Thursdays at 8.15pm.

Yours sincerely
Leonard Buxton

Chapter Two

The Special Constabulary

In August 1939, I was sworn in as a volunteer in the Hertfordshire Special Constabulary and was issued with a cap, an armband, a truncheon and a jacket and lapel-badge. A month or two later came a greatcoat and, about the end of 1939, a tunic and trousers and raincoat. In 1942 a pair of boots. That was how it went on. We were probably doing duties two or three times a week in the evening, three-hour sessions, sometimes down to two hours and occasionally as long as four hours.

We had all sorts of things to do, but our main aim was prevention and maintenance of public order. A Halifax Bomber came down near Bolton's Farm and I think I was on duty for that from two o'clock in the morning with Mr William Nash, Ruth's father. There was another plane came down in Frederick's Wood near Colney Heath and we were on duty making sure nobody came and stole the bits. Normally we patrolled round Welham Green, Waterend and Bell Bar. Our particular section did not normally come into Brookmans Park, we never came across that. I have a photograph of the special constabulary of Welham Green and Brookmans Park taken in 1940 outside the Brookmans Park Golf Club House. I know most of the Welham Green people but not the others except Mr Titmuss from Bell Bar and Frank Hardy who lived at Woodside.

We were given an emergency first-aid kit containing two bandages. There was an occasion when there was a bomb down at Marshmoor. Happened about six-o'clock in the morning. I went down there until about eight o'clock until some of the war reserve constables from Hatfield took over. I went home and had some breakfast then cycled off to St.Albans. Of course we were then working on Saturday mornings and it wasn't until long after the war we were relieved of Saturday work. In the evenings and during the weekends we had to do our special constable duties.

Photograph of North Mymms and Brookmans Park Special Constabulary 1940
North Mymms and Brookmans Park Special Constabulary 1940

There were no street lights at the time and I remember standing outside The Swan at Bell Bar (where Mr Greenleaf use to live) on one of our patrols when lo and behold there were two cars coming down the road. The first one stopped and it was Mr WML Escombe, the Special Police Superintendent. In the second was Mr CC Berger the Special Police Inspector, and Mr Berger ran slowly into the back of Mr Escombe's car and there were very strong words as a result!

Personal reminiscences of Dick Colville, recorded at the October 1987 meeting of the North Mymms Local History Society.

Picture of a National Registration Identity Card

Chapter Three

The War Comes Home : Parish Bomb Damage

In September 1940, it was reported that the A.R.P. (Air Raids Precautions) Hatfield R.D.C. was to issue to all householders with a card on part of which were instructions on what to do in an air-raid.

During September 1940, frequent air-raids interrupted school work at Waterend. School began at 10am from the 11th, when air raids continued after midnight. Ceilings were damaged during October and repaired by Nash the builders.

On July 22nd 1944, the school and house were blasted by a fly-bomb and there was damage to the roof, ceilings and windows. The Vicar in the parish magazine of September stated "it was a great mercy that the children were not in school" and sympathised with Miss Smith in the damage done to the house and school.

The Reverend Buxton was greatly distressed by the bombs and felt it "helped to make us more resolute that we will banish this curse from the earth and all the evil things in us and others that have brought this about. Thank God few were injured and there were no fatal casualties. But alas some of our church windows have been damaged. We hope it will be possible to repair it partially."

The estimate for the repair of the church windows was £170 and it was reported in May 1945 that the War Damage Commission would assist.

Leslie Abbot recalls this story:

"We lived in the Grove and so did Gordon Little. I had a rather ancient Standard car. Gordon would call for me as he seemed to be on the same shift and we would go down to the fire station together (see Chapter 4). "Planes were going over and there was a terrific thump, thump, thump. We dived under the dining-room table and then it became quiet and so off we went to do our duty to serve king and country. We got in the car and drove down Moffats Lane and in those days it was not a nice tarmac road, but had potholes. It was not until the following morning we discovered one of the Jerries on the way home decided to deposit a string of bombs he did not want and unkindly decided to deposit them on Brookmans Park.
"The string, to my knowledge went in a straight line, and one went in the middle of Moffats Lane and Gordon and I drove over it there and back, and we are still here. The other, I know for certain, fell over Gobions Open Space. If you go there, there is a seat by an old oak tree trunk and one fell there. If you had a ruler you could plot where the others fell. They were all in a straight line and some were further down in Gobions and probably over near the station."

Dick Colville recalls there was a stick of fire bombs near the Rookery, Great North Road. Mr William Nash was on fire drill. "We went out with our spades and smothered them with lumps of turf, when it got dark we reported to the ARP."

Chapter Four

The Auxiliary Fire Service

Note: The following are the personal reminiscences of Leslie Abbott recorded at the October 1987 meeting of the North Mymms Local History Society.

At the time when it was considered hostilities were imminent, it was thought that those who had time could join one of the services, the A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) or Auxiliary Fire Service.

The people I recollect were Gordon Little and Dick Ayres. It was decided that Brookmans Park should have its own fire station and where the bus-stop is at Bradmore Green and Potterells Dairy. It contained all the equipment needed for processing milk from local cows and subsequently distributed round the local district.

Whoever was responsible, whether the Ministry of Defence or what have you, decided, in their wisdom, to take over the dairy and transferred it to the fire service.

There was room to park a vehicle and they did erect some wooden bunks which were frightfully uncomfortable, but nevertheless there it was. So, having set up that, they didn't give us any equipment and we were supposed to turn out and learn how to put out fires, which was a little difficult with no equipment.

We came to the date of the outbreak of war, September 3rd. We were told to assemble at Brookmans Park Hotel, which had just commenced being built in 1939 and was not finished.

We all assembled on the car park and the statement was made that, because we had not received assurance from Germany, we were therefore at war.

Eleven o'clock had hardly faded away when the siren went. Nobody knew what to do, we just stood there. It was a false alarm and the all-clear went. I think it was some enthusiastic chappie at the police station who wanted to play with the siren.

The War Office decided, in their wisdom, that we should have some equipment. A little police fire pump was delivered. We needed something to tow it with and they produced a very ancient motorcar. I have a recollection that it was called a Mormon. I have never heard of it before or since. I think it was a United States vintage motor-car.

It was provided with a hitch to which the aforesaid pump could be attached. Now this car was a beast and had to be started by hand and it really strained our backs to get it started. It was not very efficient equipment.

We had various false alarms and tore out, hopefully for the car to start, hitched on the pump and off we went. But I think the climax to the whole situation was when we really thought there was a fire somewhere down at Waterend.

Off we went in the car. The only snag about the whole proceeding was that we got to Waterend and found we had left the pump behind. As I recollect it was something of a Fred Karno fire service.

Nevertheless we were trying to do our best, which was not really much because after that we were called up. So what happened to the famous Brookmans Park Fire Service I don't really know.

Personal reminiscences of Leslie Abbott recorded at the October 1987 meeting of the North Mymms Local History Society.

Chapter Five

Children in the Parish

The children of the parish attended school during the war, albeit with some disruption at the beginning. Some re-organisation was necessary to accommodate the evacuee children.
To allow this, the Waterend school was closed for a week 'or until further notice.'

Evacuees came from Highgate Mixed County School and the Chelsea Roman Catholic School. On the 25th September it was reported that the Highgate and Chelsea children were to attend school from 9am to 12.30pm and the local children from 1.30pm to 5pm. Mrs Baxter of Home Farm gave the school the use of Home Farm for two days a week.

On the 22nd September 1939 trenches for air-raid shelters were finished and also dark curtains for the windows. Mr Newsom, the Education Office, Mr Jeffares and the head-teachers of the evacuated schools met at the Men's Institute on the 22nd November 1939 and it was decided that the evacuees and local children would continue half-day shifts in school and half-day for the Girls school at the scout hut as it was also used for meetings.

A committee was formed in 1939, which decided to make arrangements for making the Christmas holidays a happy time for children. It was decided to open the scout hut on December 28th so the parents of the children from London could be together. It was also arranged to provide a treat for the children on the 2nd and 3rd of January in the boy’s school. The vicar felt sure that 'all will be glad to help in other ways to entertain the children and to give them occupations during the holidays. The government urges parents not to be so unwise as to take them home.' The treats turned out to be delightful and Mr Lyons gave a Christmas entertainment.

In 1939, the preparatory school at Moffats was evacuated and taken over by Roman Catholic nuns. After 22nd February 1940, the children from Highgate attended at Moffats, Brookmans Park.

The Roman Catholic girls who attended at Waterend School were, from April 1940, to take lessons all day in the scout hut, thus enabling the local children to be in school for their usual lessons, while the Highgate infants occupied the middle classroom. There was also a school situated at 39 The Grove called Ithaca House which was in existence during the war years.

A nursery school was opened during 1942 for the infant children (2-5) of mothers who were engaged in war work (including domestic work). There was room for thirty children.

A fully trained and qualified matron was in charge assisted by a teacher and assistants. The children were in, 'happy surroundings and occupied by games and lessons.' Girls were required as probationers, who after two years satisfactory service could qualify as assistant teachers. The charge to the mothers was one shilling a day including breakfast and lunch.

There were organisations which the children could join. The North Mymms Guide Company and Brownie pack met at Frowick House by permission of their Captain, Miss Albury. The guides met on Saturday and the Brownies on Wednesday afternoon. The Brown Owl was Miss Tyler of 19 Pooleys Lane. It was stated in the parish magazine that they had been glad to welcome the London Brownies and Guides who were living in the parish.

The 1st North Mymms Scouts , under the leadership of Mr Saxby, went to camp at Sidmouth in August 1939, where most of the members passed their cookery test.

At a meeting at Moffats on May 15th 1943, the 1st Brookmans Park Troop was inaugurated. A large number of boys enrolled with Mr Robertson as Scout Master. They held their flag dedication service at North Mymms Parish Church on January 30th 1944. The Group Union Jack and the Troop Flag were presented by Mr and Mrs Brown of 3, The Grove and the Wolf Cub Flag by the Potters Bar Boy's Brigade. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Leonard, Rector of Hatfield. The Right Hon. Lord Clauson inspected the group after the service and referred to the fact that General Sir Oliver Leese, commanding the 8th Army, was a North Mymms Boy Scout and expressed the hope that the members of the group would live up to the high tradition of the movement and find inspiration in the flags which had been dedicated.

Earlier it was reported, in the parish magazine of February 1940, that the Boy's Club being was being successfully carried on by Mr Bradbeer and his helpers. A small billiard table had been purchased and part of the takings at the club were to be devoted to the purchase of comforts for the forces.

Photograph of children in the parish of North Mymms

Leslie Abbott recalls that Moffats School was evacuated to the West Country. "It was then decided it should be a home for refugee children from London. These children were billeted onto various houses. We had not been married long, we hadn't got much money and our spare bedroom had still not been furnished. Along somebody came and said "You've got two small children". They were scruffy and looked as if they hadn't had a bath for years. They were given palliases on which to sleep in our spare bedroom. Something was wrong about this and next morning a nun came along and said, "have you got two small boys of so and so name?" We said, "yes, why? "Oh dear, oh dear we have been looking for these two children, they shouldn't be with you, they should be with the nuns." So these two poor scruffy little boys were taken off with the nuns and put in the care of someone else."

Leslie Abbot also believes that at Gobions Open Space (then leased or belonging to the Cannons who had Moffats Farm) they had cows and a haystack right at the bottom near the pond. He thinks it pretty certain that this haystack was set alight by some of the evacuee boys and was too much of a blaze for the Brookmans Park Fire Service to put out. "It needed a real fire service to do that!"

Chapter Six

Keeping Busy on the Home Front

The civilians in the parish were by no means idle during the war. The ladies of the Women's Institute and working parties worked very hard.

Miss Chapman was elected President of the Women's Institute in place of Mrs D'Arcy Evans in January 1940 and £8.9s was raised by whist drives held at the Men's Institute to be used to send comfort to the North Mymms men serving in the forces.

It was reported in the September 1940 parish magazine that a committee had been formed to arrange for the community jam-making in the village. In November 1940 it was announced 800lbs had been made.

In the same month the formation of the Welfare Committee of the County Troops was announced. This was to provide comforts, games etc. for them during the winter. Funds were urgently needed and the Vicar asked for donations to be forwarded to him.

The enthusiastic working party consisted mainly of members of the Women's Institute and was held every Friday at Potterells Farm by invitation of Mrs Crawford. It had only been in existence for a few months but by March 1941, 472 garments had already been completed for His Majesty's Forces and forwarded.

Jam making continued apace. In 1941 a sub-committee was formed to assist on carrying out the arrangements for jam-making and fruit bottling. Mrs Todd of Welham Manor, offered the use of her large kitchen for this. The fruit had to be grown in the district and be of good condition. The prices paid were fixed by the government.

Among the lectures the Women's Institute attended was one by Dr Shepherd on infant welfare which concluded with some helpful hints, on the feeding of young children in these difficult times.

The First Aid Post at Welham Green was manned night and morning. Volunteers were needed in 1941 to deal with incendiary bombs. A number of Women's Institute members expressed their willingness to volunteer and they decided to ask for a demonstration in the use of stirrup pumps and for a practice drill in the working of them.

Mrs Murphy of 14, Bradmore Way was appointed National Savings representative for the Brookmans Park area in 1940.

The Red Cross was thriving organisation and many fetes were held to raise funds for them. The total raised in North Mymms was £6,868.1s.9d.

At five to two just before a Red Cross fete was due to be opened at Fairwinds, a bomb landed on the cricket field at Waterend. Mrs Burns and others dived under the tables on the lawn for protection.

Mr Crawford at Potterells had a donkey for his daughters and every time there was a sale for the Red Cross anywhere within a few miles, he would take the donkey to sell, it would upset his daughters very much but he would always buy the donkey back himself and raised a great deal of money.

There were whist drives, dances, collections (one by a St. Bernard dog at the Bank Holiday fete 1943) competitions, and jumble sales. Social events were organised by ARP Post and Potterells. Postcard views of North Mymms Park were sold.

Mrs Burns had in a storeroom a number of lengths of material and Dorothy Colville made these into knitting bags and her husband Dick made the rods for insertion into the top. One bag was sold to Queen Mary. During 1942/43, £81.12s.6d. was raised from the sale of them.

In December 1941, a party of men from North Mymms Park Convalescent Hospital was entertained at a Whist Drive by the members of the Potterells Farm Knitting Party at the Men's Institute.' Prizes were given by local trades people and the proceeds were sent to the hospital for extra comforts at Christmas.

Chapter Seven

The North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital

North Mymms Park, the home of Major Burns and Mrs Burns, was taken over by the Joint War Organization of the British Red Cross in October 1940. The accommodation was for 55 patients (subsequently increased to 66 in June 1943) and was for members of the three services and civilian victims of air-raids. A total of 4,497 patients were admitted in its five years and eight months of existence.

Mrs Burns was Commandant and there were three matrons, firstly Miss G Swinford, secondly Miss C J Kemp and from November 1942 Miss E A Cadwell. There was a physiotherapy department and as well as trained nurses, members of the British Red Cross, members of the Order of St.John and quartermasters and kitchen works were members of the staff.

The secretary of the hospital was H M Alderman. Mrs. M B Crowe, of the Women's M.T.C., took care of the hospital ambulance and was its honorary driver for most of the hospital's life.

The social side of hospital life was not forgotten as it was regarded as an important part of the rehabilitation of service patients. ENSA concerts and cinema shows took place at regular intervals.

A large doll's house, complete with furniture, was made by the patients and put on exhibition at the Men's Institute on June 17th 1944. It was disposed of in aid of the Duke of Gloucester's Red Cross and St.John's Fund.

One of the most treasured signatures in the visitor's book was that of H.R.H. The Princess Royal.

Chapter Eight

The Secret Visitors

This was written by Dorothy Field (who later became Mrs Dorothy Colville) at Christmas 1942.

We the Young People's Fellowship have carolled our way through the village every night this week collecting for the prisoners of war fund. Everyone had been most generous and I've enjoyed it as well.   As usual we started the week at the vicarage and at North Mymms Park where we were most warmly welcomed and encouraged. On Wednesday evening we sang in Holloways Lane and dear old Mr Brooks came out and leaned on his fence to listen. "Beautiful", he murmured, "that will be our only bit of Christmas." When he learned what we were collecting for he tottered back to get us some coppers. Heather (Bowyer) went after him to save the walk back but no, he came back to the fence. We gave him another carol and wished him "Goodnight and Happy Christmas." He replied,"God Bless You all" and it sounded like a benediction.

Last night we were due at Lord Clauson's at 8.30 pm and intended to catch the 7.40 bus from the village and call at the houses in Bluebridge Road before reaching Hawkshead. The bus was late and more than full so we all had to walk. The night was brightening but not as beautiful as Tuesday night. There was a slight mysterious making haze and a big round moon in the sky spattered with twinkling stars. We arrived some minutes late and were welcomed by Lord and Lady Clauson. We sang to them and were in turn entertained by them to gorgeous orange squash and biscuits.

We wended our way down Hawkshead Lane to Cherry Dell stopping every fifty yards or so whilst Captain (McKinney, Church Army) did his duty with the box. Along Warrengate Lane we linked arms to warm ourselves. The brook on our right sparkled coldly. Then it was debated whether we should not call at Abdale House. Most of us knew that some hush hush refugees were living there. It was decided that we should call and we turned into the drive. Most of us had never seen the house close to and we gazed at the gracious old place, all in darkness of course. I made some remark about it being haunted and Phyllis White (later Parkyn) was instantly thrilled. We sang Good Christian Men but there was no sign of life. We began the First Nowell. Captain pressed the bell. The door was opened by a dark foreign looking man who said something we did not understand. He stepped back and a maid appeared and, "English carol singers", she said excitedly. The next half-hour was so full and exciting that it was rather a dream. We were ushered in and found ourselves in a warm ante- room, but we were not left there. Into the dining-room we were urged by run hosts, eight, nine, ten men? I cannot say how many. The table was laid, beautiful tall candles flickered high above the plates. The ceiling was festooned and there in the far corner was a lovely Christmas tree twinkling and sparkling. Our hosts were in lounge suits and everyone had a silver bell and a sprig of holly in his left lapel. They were all the same, silver bell, two glossy leaves and a cluster of berries.

As soon as we were in a dark swarthy middle-aged man who seemed to be the leader started to sing and the others took up the strain. When they came to the end the leader turned to a slim young man, who had just come in and told us in perfect English that they had sung one of their country's carols, "Now you sing." So we sang the First Nowell. Sidney (Hall) excelled himself on the accordion. They obviously enjoyed it and sang another carol to us. They were like children, so thrilled that we were there, so spontaneous. In their speech they all talked at the same time to each other and to us alternately and the interpreter had a busy time.

They were Yugoslavs. Some of them, three or four, I can't say just how many pointed to themselves and each other and said they were in Jerusalem the previous Christmas. I wondered if they were on the run and they made their way from Yugoslavia via Palestine to safety in England.

Whilst this was going on a maid appeared with a tray of wine glasses filled with ruby red wine and in a dream we took one each as they were preferred. Hosts and visitors alike raised their glasses high and toasted Christmas and the New Year. We sang again, In the Bleak Midwinter and this pleased them mightily. "More sweet water", they said. Not wine. Only sweet water, it took many head shakings and noes to convince them.

We all talked. They asked "were we neighbours?" and what the YPF meant. The leaders conferred and put a £5 note in our box. They sang, we sang and then said we must go. We sang God Bless This House and explained its meaning. They were all childishly excited and as we sang they squatted down to the level of a child whilst the others smiled and joked and pointed to him. They came to the door with us, still smiling and talking and we slowly came away.

Postscript: About three weeks after Christmas the magazine 'Picture Post' carried a four page article with pictures showing King Peter of Yugoslavia and members of his Cabinet. There was his Minister of Education and Minister of Defence and others who had sung and mimed the Christmas story so short a time ago. The strangers at Abdale were now identified.

----- * * * ----- 
SUNDAY SCHOOL at Waterend, for Boys and Girls, every Sunday Morning from 10 to 10.40. At Bell Bar, every Sunday Afternoon 3 p.m.
WATEREND - Parochial School for Girls and Infants. Head Mistress, Miss Simon; Assistant, Miss Wood.
WELHAM GREEN - National School for Boys and Infant Boys. Master, Mr. Bradbeer; Assistants, Miss Bradbeer and Miss A. M. Nicholl.
The above Schools are entirely Free, no payment for School Fees or Books, Sec., having to be made. Regularity of attendance, however, is required.
YOUNG PEOPLE'S FELLOWSHIP - Members meet in the Scout House on Fridays, 8 to 10 p.m. Young people over fourteen who would like to join are invited to give their names to the Vicar or to the Hon. Secretary, Mr. W. ]. Jay.
HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY LIBRARY - North Mymms Branch - Books are issued to members at the Men's Institute on Wednesdays from 3.0 to 4.0 p.m., and Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m.

Chapter Nine

Church and People

The parishioners were informed of events by the parish magazine. The Rev. Leonard Buxton was vicar from 1930 to October 1944 and the Rev. Lionel Hamel-Smith was inducted in April 1945.

Mr Harry Nash, sexton resigned in April 1945 having been in the post for 33 years. The Churchwardens in 1940 were Messrs. C. Berger and J. Shadbolt.

It was considered important that the Young People's Fellowship should continue during the war. They met on Fridays from 7.30 to 9.30 in the Scout Hut. Potential members had to have their names proposed and seconded by members and passed by the committee and admitted at a service before they could attend meetings. Services were held at Bell Bar and Roestock Mission Room and an increase was noted of young people attending.

The Sunday Schools flourished. Numbers of pupils attending were 100 at Roestock, Infants 60, Brookmans Park (at Moffats begun by Mr and Mrs Hoy) 30, Bell Bar 36 and Waterend 30. At the children’s service in the Boy’s School the attendance was 50.

Sunday School parties were much enjoyed. One year a fancy dress parade was judged by Miss Edwards. Games were arranged by Miss Robertson and followed by a Christmas play, 'Long ago in Bethlehem', produced by Miss Lorna Messenger. Tea followed for parents and children provided by Mr Nessling.

At the 1941 party the Vicar introduced his daughter Ruth Buxton, mentioning the ' little boys and girls of Africa to whom she would be returning shortly and they promised to remember both herself and the little black children in their prayer.'

The daughter church at Little Heath, Christ Church celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 1943.

Captain and Mrs McKinney of the Church Army came to work in the parish in 1940 succeeding Captain Miles. He ran the Roestock Sunday School with his wife and Mrs Wren. In 1945, it was reported that more evacuee children had arrived in the Roestock district and had been made welcome. When he left the parish he received a cheque for £23 and an illuminated scroll and book token from the Sunday School children of Welham Green.

The Parochial charities continued. The Vicar in 1940 asked for the names of labourers who wished to apply for the gifts to be distributed soon after Easter. Each case was considered on its merits. The money usually given to each widow was distributed at the vicarage,

Mr Bradbeer received the subscriptions to the Coal Club. There was no fund for providing a bonus which had been provided by the church funds, but subscriptions were invited to raise the £6 needed.

The church bells were the source of some interesting correspondence in 1940. The answers were needed to the following questions:-

(i) on what occasion are the bells to be rung?
(ii) what are the public to do on hearing them?
(iii) who has official authority to ring them?
What we ask for is official instructions. It is no small matter to silence their witness to our Christian faith throughout the land. A young officer is reported to have said he is sure we cannot win the war until the bells ring again. We put religion first as our aim in trying to win the war and we should like to do all we can to support our religion.

The next month in January 1941 it was reported that letters had been received from a member of the Home Guard, a bell-ringer and a civil servant in reply. The answer to question (i) was that the bells were only to be rung in the event of parachutists landing and answer to (ii) was that the ringing was to be authorised by the Commander of the Home Guard. No authoritative answer was given to question (iii).

On the 21st of February 1945, a Quarter Peel of Bob Major was rung involving 1,264 changes in 48 minutes in honour of the Rev. Hamel-Smith's induction. The conductor was W.Nash and his team P.Nash, T.Lock, D.C.Price, G.Spencer, A.Laurence, C.Nash and H..

The Rev. Buxton wrote a long letter to his parishioners in the parish magazine of October 1944. He stated that the fourteen years spent in the parish had been happy ones for both himself and his family. He felt however, that the responsibility of so large a parish seemed to grow heavier and he felt no long able to fulfil it. He thanked the keen Church Council and loyal churchwardens and church workers who had helped him. He said, "there is scarcely a house the parish that Mrs Buxton or I can enter without being assured of a warm welcome."

He regretted that he had not been able to see the completion of the plan for enlarging or rebuilding the Boy's School in "order that the school might retain its character as a church school." The war had prevented that but under the new Education Act the Government had promised half the cost.

At the same time the letter was written, the Rev.Buxton did not know the name of his successor. Owing to the Tithe Act of 1936 the stipend would be £36 less. He believed that there was a prospect that some of the church members would subscribe to the support of their new Vicar and the subscriptions would be equalled by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

He wrote,

"it is time that the dear old Church of England woke up to the fact that she cannot obtain a sufficient number of clergy of the best type unless she provides first of all for their training and then for their support. We have been too long content to live on the benefactions of our forefathers, and these are no longer sufficient. I have written this, not because I have desired any more for myself, far from it, but because I think it is good for you to know the facts and it is easier for me to say it than for those who come after. I need hardly say that you will always be in our thoughts and in our prayers. God Bless You."

Chapter Ten


A sub-committee of the Parochial Church Council - the Liaison Committee for returning members of HM Forces was formed in 1945. The main duty of the committee was the welcoming of returning men and women into 'full and complete fellowship of the church." The committee was anxious to have the plans well in hand before demobilization took place.

A Victory tea-party for the children of Waterend and Welham Green took place on June 19th 1945 at Hawkshead Playing Fields. A house to house collection in the district provided sufficient food for 300 children.

In July 1945, the outstanding event was the return of prisoners of war, several of whom came back to North Mymms.

Letter from Rev. Hamel-Smith to his parishioners in September 1945:-

"The services on the Sunday, following the declaration of total victory, were well attended and our parish took its part in the national rejoicings and thanksgivings to Almighty God. "Soon now those who have been parted from their families for so long will be returning to their home and they and we will be putting our hand, to the plough to build up a better and happier England in the faith of God, beginning as we must always begin, in our own home and in our own parish."

Ch.Ch.Oxford, BA 1900; MA 1904. Ridley Hall Cam.1901. C.of St.Ann, Nottim. 1902-04; St.Peter's, St.Albans, 1905-08. V. of Redbourn, 1908-14; R. of Sheldon 1914-23; T.C.F. 1917-19; V. of St. Mark's, Southampton 1922-23; N. Mymms from 1930-Oct 1944.


3rd Bt. created 1908 KCB,CB,CBE,DSO.
b. 1894. Educated Eton. Served European War, wounded three times. Distinguished military career, commanding the Eighth Army in 1944 and Commander in Chief Allied Land Forces South East Asia and GOC Eastern Command. He retired form the army in 1946. d. Jan. 1978.
In the parish magazine of February 1944 it was stated 'that we are proud to know Sir Oliver Leese an old North Mymms boy has been appointed to succeed General Montgomery in command of the Eighth Army in Italy. His father Sir William Leese lived at Welham Lodge and helped to start the First North Mymms Company of the Boy Scouts and his son was an enthusiastic member of the Company.'


1st Baron created 1942. Kt.cr.1926.CBE. Educated Merchant Taylor's School; St.John's College, Oxford; King's Council 1910; Bencher 1914. Judge of Chancery Division, High Court of Justice 1926-38; Lord Justice of Appeal, d. March 1946.


KCVO 1962.CB,DSO,OBE,MC.Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire 1961-86. b. Jan 1911. s. of Walter Spencer Morgan and Evelyn Burns. Educated Eton, Trinity Coll. Cambridge. Commissioned Coldstream Guards 1932. ADC to Viceroy of India 1938-40.Ajt.1st Bn.1940-41 (MC) Brigade Major 9 Inf.Bde.1941-42, Sp. Gp. Gds. Armed Div.1942; 32 Gds Bde.1942-43; CO 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards, Palestine 1947-50;AAG HQ London Dist. 1851,1952; Regimental Lt. Col. Coldstream Gds.1952-55; Comdg 4th Gds Bde. 1955-59' GOC London District and Household Brigade,1959-62' Col.Coldstream Guards 1966-
In a letter dated February 1944 quoted in the parish magazine he wrote 'please remember me to all my friends in the village and tell them I am in the best of spirits and hope to see them all again soon.'

Many thanks are due to Dick Colville and Leslie Abbott for allowing their reminiscences of the war years in the parish to be published. Also to Mr Colville for allowing the essay by his wife Dorothy to be reproduced.


North Mymms Parish Magazine
Crockford's Clerical Directory 1939
Who's Who 1988
North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital 1940-46: A brief description by H.M.Alderman
Who Was Who (various years)

Online editor’s note

All the books on this site have been scanned and uploaded retaining, as close as possible, the layout and character of the original publication. However, typeface and formatting has been changed for most because of the fonts used in the originals and the equivalents now used in the digital age. For the longer books, a table of contents has been added to help readers navigate to specific chapters. We have also improved the quality of the images, graphics and maps used in the books by sourcing the original material from the former North Mymms Local History Society archive. Those assets have been digitised and enhanced by local photographer and historian Mike Allen as part of the Images Of North Mymms project, so that what we now have on this site, The North Mymms History Project is a clearer representation of the original work.

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