Bottesford School during the 2nd World War
Entries from the School Logbook
By Sue Middleton
The Bottesford School Logbook entries between 1939 – 1945 provide a fascinating insight into how both the school and the community coped during the 2nd World War.
We are most grateful to Bottesford Primary school for allowing access to the Logbook.
Mr. W. Cox was Head Teacher at the school when war was declared on September 3rd 1939. When he was recalled to active service in September 1940 Mr. Percival Stimpson (Senior Assistant) took over as Acting Headteacher on September 16th 1940.
Captain Cox returned to the school as Headteacher in March 1945.
Mr. Cox made an entry in the school log book for September 11th 1939. It states that there were “42 admissions and that these included 12 voluntary evacuees from London, Nottingham, Manchester etc., owing to the state of war between England and Germany since Sept. 3rd.”
In addition “(a) school for evacuated children from Sheffield has been set up in the schoolroom of the Primitive Methodist Chapel on the Green. The numbers are approx. 44 taught by own (Wybourn) school staff.”
On September 12th the roll rose to 221 as 5 more voluntary evacuees were admitted to the school.
However, the logistics of teaching the children in the schoolroom and the Chapel must have proved too much because by January 28th 1940 only 22 Sheffield scholars remained in the area and they were put on roll at the school.
The first winter of the war must have been a trial for all. The weather was dreadful with so much snow that the school buses could not get through from the surrounding villages. There was also a lot of illness – epidemics of Scarlet Fever, Chickenpox, Influenza, German Measles and the common cold which continued well into the spring. There was one case of meningitis which was unfortunately fatal.
Mr. J. G. Bullock was a Horticultural Instructor and he paid the first of many visits on October 20th 1939 to make sure that the school was doing its bit towards food production. More ground was to be dug up and on June 7th 1940, Miss Sack visited the school in connection with a meeting and cookery demonstrations concerning the food campaign. By July 19th, the ploughing up of the school field had commenced.
By June 17th, instructors of handicraft were required on war work so lessons stopped.
During the summer, school closed to allow pupils to assist with the harvesting of hay, corn harvest and the potatoes.
By July 9th 1940, there was provision being made for a bomb shelter in case of air raids without warning. This was fortunate because on August 14th 1940, it was noted that “Four bombs were dropped by German aircraft last night (10:21pm) in the field next to the playing field beyond the railway. Damaged the window and woodwork of the school Garden Hut. One unexploded bomb found by Hd.Master in School Playing Field-Reported to Police & Military Authorities, also L.E.A.”
The school roll in September 1940 was 189 plus 14 evacuees. Work on the air raid shelter in the boys playground had commenced during the summer holidays and was due for completion within a week.
The following are transcriptions of School Log book entries up to 1945 that make direct reference to the war effort at the school.
Sept. 13th Mr. W. Cox was re-called for service with the army and Mr. Percival Stimpson took over duty as acting Headmaster.
Oct. 8th Stirrup pumps arrived at school at the start of October in case of fires which might be caused by incendiary bombs.
Oct. 25th Mr H. Picken (Agriculture and Education Department) enquired about the yield of potatoes on the “War plot” school garden and the produce from the garden.
Oct 29th The delivery day for 63yds x1yd of window netting and the installation of an electric light(12v car battery) in the shelter.
Nov. 7th The dining hall on Queen Street was requisitioned as a rest room for the local A.R.P. First Aid Workers.
Nov. 11th New War Savings groups were formed as a result of a visit by a commissioner for War Savings.
Nov. 13th Notts. Schools intend to maintain the later time of opening until the end of February, and that Notts. Schools will open at 10.a.m.
Nov. 19th (A.R.P. Commandant) visited re. the blacking out of the dining hall and the installation of a new store.
Nov. 29th The stirrup pumps were used in fire drill and all were instructed in their use. The drill would happen weekly.
Feb. 6th Mr Silverwood (chief A.R.P. Warden) examined gas masks and he exchanged 15 medium size masks in exchange for 15 outgrown small masks. He then examined all gas masks in the Infants’ and Juniors’ classes.
Mar. 19th This was War Weapons Week and a Cinema Van gave a display in Church Street.
Mar. 20th £7.7s. was sent to Coventry’s Distress Fund.
During this week, the School War Savings Group saved £440.5s.
May 9th No Plungar children arrived because there were delayed action bombs in the vicinity of both roads between Plungar and Barkestone.
May 23rd £13.0s. was sent to the Nottingham General Hospital plus 1162 eggs. 14 lbs of tinfoil was also dispatched.
July 21st, 22nd and 23rd 6 men came to fit black-out blinds to all windows and the dining hall. Lessons were suspended when necessary or taken outside and extra gardening classes were taken.
July 30th Remittance value £13 was sent to Leicestershire Prisoners of War Fund.
Aug. 19th Shelter (air raid) inspected, batteries examined, acid gravity tested, voltage checked by an electrical engineer from Leicester.
Sept. 1st As well as the school dentist examining all children’s teeth at the Coffee House and from the 2nd-9th giving treatment, the Head teacher and the gardening classes spent time at the school garden lifting early potatoes, storing and removing produce to the dining hall kitchen.
We can see from the following entry that the strains of running the school economy during the war were clearly showing by 1942.
Jan. 13th “The Rev. F. Walford visited re. Economy in use of electric light. Bill for 1941 was £15 as compared with £3 in 1940. I pointed out that this year the school had been “blacked out” and the caretaker has been able to clean school and light fires in time to get the school warmed before 9.30.a.m.This was not possible in 1940, but the summertime was not in force through out the winter of 1939+ January 1940. Consequently the light was not required in the morning. At present, and in January 1941, lights are required in the morning owing to the summertime being in force. Scholars require the light in most rooms practically all day except when the sun shines (i.e. in the winter months) It is impossible to read writing on the board from the back of the IIIa and IIIb rooms, as well as IIa room without the electric light, except on very bright days. In IIIc room it is very dark at the back of the room.
I invited the Rector to view the classrooms and judge for himself, as it was a dull day, but he declined”.
Mar. 3rd Mr. Stuart Smith visited and talked to the children about “Warship Week” which was to commence on March 7th until March 14th. A cinema van came to Bottesford and Mr. E. Thomas addressed the children.
Mar. 13th Miss Sack (organiser of domestic subjects) came to discuss the proposed extension of school mid-day meals to local children.
Mar. 24th Class IIIc boys spent the afternoon in the school garden, preparing seed beds etc. Extra time was taken because of the inclement weather last week.
Mar. 24th Acknowledgement of £6.12s. paid to H.M. Treasury by Derek Holt Class IIIc who collected this amount during “Warship Week” by exhibiting his model destroyer.
School savings reached £3005, with £932 being saves during Warship Week.
April 14th Mr. Tims visited in connection with a new scheme for the employment of children on farms during term time.
May 1st The school collected 8cwts of waste paper in 2 days and had to stop because of lack of a suitable dump.
June 16th Electric heater fitted in air raid shelter.
Oct. 26th Air Raid Shelter practice taken.
Nov. 1st AGRICULTURE 69 scholars employed 2220 hours.
Nov. 23rd School open 9.30.a.m. as from today to end of February.
Dec. 23rd Sent remittance value £18.4s. to Lady Cripps – Aid to China Fund.
Jan. 21st Milk arrived today (Milk in Schools Scheme). Hd.T. informed Food Office yesterday that Milk Scheme postponed indefinitely owing to lack of transport. Today the Grantham Coop Society have apparently decided to bring it after all.
April 9th Mr. Stuart Smith and Mr. Stevenson visited and addressed the school re. “Wings for Victory” week May 8-15.
May 10th Wings for Victory week opened and R.A.F officers visited the school at 2.30.p.m. and demonstrated the use of a rubber dinghy to the whole school.
May 13th Parents attended a display of maypole dancing and War savings stamps to the value of £9. 11s. were sold.
May 17th Total raised by the School Savings group was £3,565.17s .inc. £32.12s .free gift to the Treasury for purchase of rubber dinghy.
May 24th Empire Day was celebrated.
May 24th A donation of £4.10s. raised on Empire Day, was sent to Overseas league Tobacco Fund, S. James’s London S.W.1
July 4th Mr. Stuart Smith presented a Certificate of Honour in recognition of effort made during “Wings for Victory” Week.
July 14th News of the death of Miss E. James, secretary of School Savings Group since 1916.
July 28th 1&1/2 cwts. of paper – old books – sent to the salvage depot.
Oct. 28th The Cinema Van visited (National War Savings) and the show was witnessed by the whole school.
Dec. 29th £5.5s. subscribed for Leicester Blind and £24.10s. subscribed for Red Cross Fund.
Feb. 28th Heavy snow rendered roads impassable. No children from outside villages attended today, also on the 29th.
April 4th Mr. Stuart Smith addressed the seniors re. “Salute the Soldier” week.(War Savings).
April 6th £9.9s. sent to Overseas Tobacco Fund. (gifts of cigarettes to Service men)
May 18th Ascension Day, May Day Celebrations and two plays in the afternoon in connection with War Savings Week.(Salute the Soldier)
May 22nd School War Savings amount to £4,104 including £32 free gift to the Treasury.
June 6th Received acknowledgement of gift of £32 toward the purchase of Medical Supplies for the Leics. Regt. This sum being a gift from Bottesford School.
July 6th School closed for one day’s merit holiday for “Salute the Soldier” effort.
July 25th After school today, children gave a display of folk dancing on Rectory Lawn, to 300 people in aid of Prisoners of War Parcels Fund. £53 was realised from the effort, which also included sales and amusements organised by the scholars.
July 27th No. of books collected since the salvage Drive started:-7337.
Oct. 2nd 58 lbs Rose hips sent to Genatosan Ltd. Loughboro.
Dec. 21st £7 subscribed towards Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund by scholars.
May 8&9 “V.E.” Day – School closed – National Holiday.
July 20th Mr. Mason H.M.I. and Capt. Fowler inspected buildings and site for new school. Hd. Teacher stressed the urgency of re -commencing Woodwork and Cookery Classes.
July 27th Mrs. Jack, Supt. Of Dom. Subjects visited in p.m. re. re-opening of cookery classes.
Aug. 2nd School closed at 3.15.p.m. for Summer Holidays.