Fourth installment

At hay making time I was allowed to take charge of the horse and move

him along the rows of hay while the men loaded the cart with pitchforks. Harvest time was a question of all hands to the pump and the field would be full of men and boys from the village and a few Land Army girls, all gathering up the sheaves from the binder and piling them into stooks.

As far as the war was concerned we hardly knew it was happening. Only on a couple of occasions can I remember it causing any kind of a stir in the village. The first one was when we all went up to the top road for a view of Cardiff being given a nice taste of Hitlers explosives being dropped on that fine city in nice round containers with little fins on the back. Of course we couldn’t see the actual bombs from the best part of forty miles away but we could easily see the resulting fires and the clouds above being lit up all over the Northern sky. Some time later another incident occurred when a young chap came running down to the farm and called Mr Melhuish and his man and their weapons, away from the work that they were doing at the time, in order to go up to Duncary Beacon to try and capture a German pilot who was obliged to bail out of his aircraft in that area. As I never saw Farmer Melhuish or his man in a uniform of any kind, I assume that the local Home Guard had mobilised all the able bodied men in the area to go out and help with the search. I believe that the pilot was found but I have no evidence to prove it

March 1943 saw me beginning my formal education at the little school in the village. I can clearly remember learning our letters by the following method. Miss smith would draw a letter on the blackboard and we little scholars would do our best to copy them on to our slates with a piece of chalk. The slates were about 9 inches by 6 and had a surrounding wooden frame to protect the edges. Once we could draw and read all the letters to Miss Smiths satisfaction we moved on to real books of the Janet and John variety and by some witchcraft most of us were soon able to read fairly well.

Mathematics or sums, as we called it, were drilled into our feeble little heads in a similar way. Firstly copy the numbers from the blackboard onto your slate until you have them all off by heart. Miss Smith would drill the whole class by indicating a number on the board whereupon the whole class would be expected to shout out the correct number indicated. Times tables from one times one to twelve times twelve were learned as a kind of poetry, which the whole class would recite endlessly until we were able to answer any question on the subject with a good number of correct answers. Punishment for showing lack of attention, or any other misdemeanour, like speaking without permission, was to be slapped on the leg or buttocks with a gym shoe which was always on display, but I cannot recall anyone having the benefit of that very effective corrective measure while I was there.

THE OLD SCHOOL, WHEDDON CROSS, AS IT STANDS TODAY