Pound Lane School - World War II
In mid July 1939 all children brought their gas masks in to school to be fitted and later in July the first air raid drill was held.
War was declared on 3 September 1939 but by the end of October there was still only room in the shelter for a 100 girls, so the girls attended 100 at a time on alternate days. 60 girls and 2 teachers were sent to the Church of England School (C of E) for the duration of the war and the school worked while on alternate half days with the C of E School.
Below is an extract of a typical report of times spent in the shelters in the later part of 1940. One of the school's former pupils remembers sitting close to the shelter wall (where her teacher could not see her) playing cat's cradle with her friend!
Extract from late 1940 Log Book
WW2 Bomb Damage
In 1941 a central kitchen was built in a new wooden building in the school grounds, where staff would prepare meals for the British Restaurant (Editors note: British Restaurants were set up during the war by the Ministry of Food to enable people to get a balanced meal at a set price, around 1s 6d or 8p in decimal currency, without giving up coupons from their ration books.) in Ebbisham Sports Centre.
The canteen also provided dinners for a number of schools in the district and these were sent by vans. Even though the food was cooked on the Pound Lane school premises, the children had to walk to Ebbisham Sports Centre to receive it. The scheme started in early September serving food to 145 children. This canteen not only supplied school dinners but also meals to children during the holidays.
1941 Log Book entries
Boys moving school meals
In June 1942, Uncle Mac of the BBC's Childrens' Hour visited the school as it had more members than any other school in the Children's Hospital League.
The flying bombs
One of the first flying bombs, the V1 or "Doodlebug", fell in West Ewell on 16 June 1944 and air raid warnings got so bad that many children stayed away from school. On the 19 June 1944 only nine girls were present at school.
Log Book entries for July 1944
The raids continued throughout the night and day and on the 6 July the district was included in the general evacuation of school children area. The next day 78 children were registered. These children went to a reception centre and many were sent to Cornwall.
Evacuees from Epsom & Ewell being escorted by Inspector JH Tucker
from Wadebridge station, Cornwall, June 1944
Image courtesy of Cornish Studies Library
VE Day 5 May 1945
VE Day Celebrations
The school was closed for two days for Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) and by the end of June the last of the evacuees returned from Cornwall.
Some 200 children of school age had been sent to Cornwall and after the first home- sickness wore off, they were happily enjoying the quiet and peace of the country and sea air. The Billeting Officer reported that local people were impressed with the "niceness of the Epsom children"
This article is part of a series on Pound Lane Schools