Great Bradley Residents and their World War II memories
These recollection of residents of Great Bradley were collated for a celebration of 50 years of VE Day in the village in 1995
THE LONGEST YEARS
Mrs Agnes Beavis (nee Potter) met her husband, Reg, when she was 17 and living with her parents at
Aggie Beavis with her wedding dress, 1995
Reg then took part in the D-Day landings in
ACROSS THE CHANNEL - Dennis's Story
Dennis Low, previously of Wanstead, and his wife, Clarice (nee Elvish), of Leytonstone, first met in 1940 when they were both seventeen years old. Dennis and Clarice now live at Clarendale, and both made a significant contribution to the Exhibition, particularly as Dennis kept a photographic record throughout the War years. Dennis was called up on
Thousands of men left the camp and were then parked m the side streets of
We landed on
Dennis Lowe in 1995
The first village we came to was Le Fresne Camffly. There was an old lady sitting outside a cottage, staring because she couldn't believe her eyes. The first town we entered was
The battle of
We crossed the Rhein at Xanten with the 15th Scottish Division on 24 April under heavy fire although resistance was not as fierce as expected, but the 51st Highland Division had heavy casualties at
THIS SIDE OF THE CHANNEL - Clarice's story
"I joined the ATS as a volunteer in April 1943 after three weeks training at Glenparva Barracks, Leicester, and was sent to my unit in Bicester, Oxfordshire. After passing written and practical exams for a DR (despatch rider) I was informed that five other girls and I would have to re-apply as there were sufficient DRs at that time. Of course, like everything else, once they had you in their clutches doing more important jobs in the RAOC, it was a waste of time re-applying. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 years in the ATS and felt the job I was doing, which was preparing spare parts for tanks and guns for the fighting men, was rather important
Den and I exchanged cards and letters all through the War. On one occasion when annual leave was stopped for everyone, I knew more or less that something serious was going to happen for Dennis as he sent a wire to say he would be on leave. I felt I had to see him before he went away - I loved him so much, you see. I broke through our camp at and walked 8 miles to the station. I had a forged pass mat one of my male friends had made for me in case I was stopped. It was very eerie and I felt extremely frightened; I kept thinking someone was following - it was a very lonely place in the country and, being pitch dark, the trees made strange noises and I walked backwards some of the way. I arrived at Bicester station at and had to wait till for a train. The station master, who was very sweet, lit a fire for me in the waiting room. I was quite nervous when I arrived on Paddington station in case I was stopped by MPs (military police). I still cannot believe how lucky I was not to be stopped as I passed three groups of MPs and managed to give them all just a light-hearted smile although I was shaking in my shoes. I carried on with my journey to Wanstead and managed 5 days' leave with my dear Den before I was sent a telegram to go back to camp. I had one week's pay stopped and one week's CB (confined to barracks) but it was worth every minute."
Telegram to Clarice Low (nee Elvish)
Margaret Heam and her father. Bill Wilsher, formerly of Fox Farm House, and then moved to
Bill Wisher's army boots
VICTORY & PEACE IN 1945
From the Diary of Mr A J (Jack) Chapman. Jack kept the Post Office (now Willow Cottage)
May 5th. 1945 - News Chronicle headline: 'Monty's Job Done: War over in N.W. Germany, Holland, Denmark. Cease-fire at Sam. No word yet of Norway: Greatest German Surrender since November 1918: "Haw-Haw" fled by car to Denmark.' This evening wireless news is very good - many more lay down arms.
May 6th 1945. Sunday - News of the World headlines - "Norway is the Problem Now: Nazis call Surrender a Truce: Fighting the Bolshevik Terror: German Shells on Copenhagen: Monty tell of Surrender Drama'
May 7th 1945. Monday - Very warm - a lovely day. In the evening, Peter Surridge came, and was with me when our Church bells rang out the Victory Peals at 10.38 pm. There was also a fire at Waterfield Barn - it's still burning at time of writing this - 11.40 pm. Mr Clem Smith came and heard the great news which stated that tomorrow is V-Day. Mr Churchill will speak at tomorrow, and H M The King will broadcast at . I have just come in from looking about outside - all around flares of all colours are dropping with searchlights beaming about the sky. This is the best news I have entered in this Diary. That the War in
May 8th 1945. Tuesday - Weather fine and bright. Today and tomorrow are National holidays. Percy Mills brought me a Union Jack on a stick. [After hearing Churchill and the King on the wireless] I went into Church Field where Mr & Mrs Custerson had a bonfire. I took 4 Thunderflashes & let them off there. I stayed up until 2 am & listen to the wireless and then to bed. During the night bonfires & rockets & fireworks could be seen going up all around- it was a very pretty sight. There seems to be a huge fire over Clare way. Well, this is the day everyone living has been longing for. What a day. Peace at last, so we must thank Almighty God for our safe deliverance from this terrible ordeal we have all been through for nearly six years. The One Thousand Guineas at
May 9th 1945 Wednesday - Just before dinner, I went to Mr Percy Mills' house with 15 Thunderflashes, and Mr J Dixon below the Hill also took 15 Thunderflashes. Mr Charles Mills came and took 30 Flashes - he is leaving 15 Thunderflashes at Mr Jack Felton's house. Mr Charles Mills told me this afternoon that he went down and rang out our Victory Bells at the Church at 10.38 am.