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Leverstock Green in the 1930's
Leverstock Green During World War II
If you can add to the information/photographs contained on this page in any way, particularly if you or your family lived in Leverstock Green during WW2 and especially if you were evacuated here, or shared your home with evacuees, please get in touch with me.

Perhaps, David's Burks' memories lower down on this page may inspire you.
Barbara Chapman 29th May 2006

It is now over 66 years since the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and although to many it may not seem that long ago, particularly if their memories are vivid of the time, there are now two or three generations born after 1945 to whom it is just the subject of stories told by their parents, and grandparents, or featuring in old movies.

It is however a very important part of our history, and I hope to be able to gather and record on this page and that of the Leverstock Green Home Guard as many memories and photographs as possible before they are lost forever. Studying WW2 is part of the National Curriculum and I hope these WebPages will add an additional insight for local children into the way the war played an important part in the lives of the children and their families who lived here many years ago. 

Therefore if you have any memories, photographs, ephemera or other information you are willing to pass on concerning our village and those who lived here between 1939 and 1945, please do get in touch. Full acknowledgement will be given if any information supplied is published on this page.

For the information published to date I am very grateful to Madge Field, Jill Ray (see Life at the Leather Bottle) & Tony Shuffrey & Jule Smith for their contributions, and to Alan Phair, Headmaster at Leverstock Green JMI for entrusting me with the school logbooks.  I am also grateful to the person who loaned me the photographs of the ARP wardens and drilling the Home Guard which I originally published in my book on Leverstock Green & Bennetts End.   Unfortunately I have mislaid the information carefully collected at the time as to your identity.  If it was you, please let me know and ownership of the prints can be duly acknowledged. 

Barbara Chapman, 1st October 2005

"Memories of life in the Village  during the War Years."

by Mrs. Madge Field
During the war I lived with my parents at The Leather Bottle Public House in Leverstock Green.  Things were very restricted and at night we had to go through the ritual of fixing blinds to our windows.  If a chink of light was showing the local Special Constabulary or Home Guard would mention it.  Our local Home Guard was based at Mr.Shuffrey's farm and enlisted local people, my father was a member and they had night duties.  ARP Wardens patrolled as well. 
We had air raid sirens to warn us of raids and it was a relief when the "All clear" was  sounded. We were fortunate to have a good cellar which we used as an Air Raid Shelter when necessary.  Although it was rather chilly down there the smell from the barrels kept our spirits up!  Some people did have shelters or dug outs in their gardens where  they went for safety.  We had gas masks in cardboard boxes which we  carried around.
RIGHT: This photo taken in 1940 of local ARP wardens, includes the contingent from Leverstock Green.
Ration books were issued (see picture above) and we were allotted coupons for cheese, butter etc and as there were no eggs we used dried egg powder.   One thing we did miss were bananas.
We were allowed to buy clothing on coupons and people would save these up and collect them from friends if they wanted to buy a wedding dress.  Underwear and wedding dresses were sometimes made out of damaged silk parachute material.  Stockings were also in short supply.

Evacuees from London were billetted in the village with local families and joined us at School.

They kept in touch with some families after the war.

We did have several incenduary devices dropped in the village but the most frightening one was when a landmine fell along the St. Alban's road (past Finches farm) which left a large crater and we were all inquisitive next morning.   I woke up one morning to find a tank outside my bedroom window.
I would say propoganda posters were effective and the particular ones I remember are "Dig for Victory" and "Careless talk costs lives" 

As as Inn The Leather Bottle served the community as a Social Club and Committee rooms where the locals regularly met and also welcomed the American and Canadian Airmen who were stationed at Bovingdon Airport.  One of our local girls was a G.I. bride and left to live in America.

As so many people lost their lives during the war we are very fortunate to have survived and lived to tell the tale.

On the whole I would say there was a very good spirit amongst the people and they did help each other.

Chronology of Known Events 

from Dacorum Within Living Memory, by Cathy Simpson and Don Jackson [S19]
Leverstock Green School Log Books [S73] and other sources.
June,1939 -  A Conference was organised by Hemel Borough in order to make  suitable arrangements for the educating of evacuee children  who were to be billeted in the Borough.  Amongst others,. Leverstock Green Junior and Infant Schools were told to operate a two-shift system.  Under this system, resident children would use the school facilities in the morning, and evacuee children would use them in the afternoon, alternating the times each week.   Other accommodation would have top be found for the children not using the school facilities either in the morning or the afternoon, as teachers were to remain responsible for their children throughout the day.  When school resumed, ( village children were to use the school from 8.45 to 12.15, and London children from 1.30 to 4.30.  The following week the arrangement was to be reversed. [S19  p.63 ]  Mr Ayre had noted in the school log book for Aug 4th " school closed.for the summer holidays, to reopen on Monday September 4th."

July 1939 -.  Local school children were being prepared for expected gas attacks and issued with gas masks.  The children of Leverstock Green were able to test these in a Home Office Gas van which toured the area.  [S19 p.63]

The Leverstock Green Cricket Club was disbanded and not reformed until 1948/49. [S102]

August 24th, 1939   -. Teaching staff were brought back from holiday and told to prepare for the evacuation and reception of school children. [S19]

September 18th 1939  "Owing to the outbreak of war the school did not reopen until this morning."  [S73] 

August 30th, 1939   -. Ministry of Health warned local authorities to be ready at 24 hour notice to receive evacuee children. [S19]

September 1st, 1939 -. Evacuation scheme came into force. Blackout regulations came into force. [S19]

September 18th 1939  "Owing to the outbreak of war the school did not reopen until this morning."  [S73] 

September 20th 1939  "School hours now 8.45a.m. to 12.15 p.m. & in the hall and chapel 2 p.m. to 3.30p.m..  Scawfell Inf & Jr. (L.C.C.- Shoreditch) have the use of the school lalternatively with us." [S73]

October,1939. The double shift system was still operating in Leverstock Green Junior and Infants, who alternated with Scawfell Shoreditch Junior and Infants. [S19]

December 1st 1939  "Gas mask inspection  14 had none with them." [S73]

Friday 8th December 1939  - Reported in the Hertfordshire Advertiser & St. Albans Times under the Headline BLACKOUT OFFENCES  Irene Ambrus of Grenville Hall, Grenville Place, London SW was summoned for failing to obscure a light at "Little Heath", Greenacres Leverstock Green on October 26th.  PC Goddard said the house was unattended, a light was on, and the curtains not drawn.  With the assistance of Sgt. Ayre  of the Special Constables, he nailed a sack over the window.  On November 1st a man attended on the defendants behalf  to extinguish the light.  .When the witness saw the defendant she said: "When I left the house I must have accidentally switched o the light."  Mrs Ambrus was fined £1 plus costs.  [Hertfordshire Advertiser & St. Albans Times 8th Dec 1939]

1940 - The Leverstock Green Home Guard was formed. See separate WebPage on Home Guard.

January/February 1940  Mr. Ayre recorded in the school log books that the weather was very wintry, often with snow. The school was badly hit due to an initial shortage and then a complete absence of fuel. [S73]

February 12th 1940  "School very cold  43° due to no fuel..snow at lunchtime." [S73]

April 29th 1940 -  "Admitted 34 children from Scawfell Infants School LCC  amalgamation.  188 now on roll." [S73]

May 10th 1940-  "Air Raid practice.Closed today for the Whitsuntide Holiday  to reopen Monday, May 20th."  [S73]

May 14th  1940  " School reopened this morning, by Special Order, owing to Emergency."  Infuriatingly there was no indication given in the log  book of the type of emergency! [S73]  However it would seem that all schools throughout the country were recalled owing to the general war situation:  The following is a quotation from the school log book of Harrowgate Hill Infants School, Darlington."The school closed on 2nd May  Ascension Day. Later in May the Whitsuntide holidays were cancelled owing to 'the serious war situation'. An extra shelter was provided so that all classes could attend full-time."  (On May 14th the formation of The Homeguard was announced, the following day, 15th the Dutch army surrendereed and May 27th the evacuation of British & French troops from Dunkirk began.) [  ]
June 7th 1940  " Air Raid practice this morning  trying out walking to the Church, as an alternative Air Raid Shelter."[S73]

June 10th & 11th 1940   " Headmaster put on the Contex to all the children's respirators." [S73]   Contex would appear to have been a special filter fitment made to gas masks to make them effective against the gas Arsine  "The gas masks were all very well for protecting people against the gas but then the government found out about Arsine, in May 1940, and had to take in all the gas masks and fit them with a Contex filter.  It was a bit like a small tobacco tin fastened to the end of the mask with adhesive tape.  [ ]

July 1st 1940  "Air Raid Protection Walls have now been completed; practices can now be resumed."  [S73] 

This page was last updated: July 23, 2015

October 1st 1940 -  After just over a year, the war was coming to Leverstock Green, and causing considerable disruption and terror as recorded by the Headmaster Mr. Ayre in the numerous entries in the school log book referring to Air Raid Warnings, and on some occasions actual enemy fire-power  and bombs:  "Air Raid Warning from to 2.35pm Children assembled on the verandah." [S73]

October 7th 1940   Air Raid Warnings. 10.38-11.10 ( Break after). Air Raid Warnings 1.43  2.7. [S73]

October 8th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 8.48 to 10.12

October 9th 1940 Air Raid Warnings 2.51 to 3.30   3.50 to 4.10

October 11th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 8.55 to 10.00

October 14th 1940 - Air Raid Warning from 11.50  2.30
  Air Raid Warning from 2.50  3.30

October 15th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 10.11 to 10.25 and 11.35  11.45

October 17th 1940  - Air Raid Warning 9.30  10.0

October 18th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 4.0.p.m.  5.30  Children gradually escorted home.

October 21st 1940 - Air Raid Warnings  9.20 to 9.36; 9.45 to 10.12; 11.2 to 1.16.  Then 1.46 to 3,20 No afternoon school.

October 22nd 1940 - Air Raid Warning 1.48 to 3.20

October 23rd 1940  Enemy aircraft machine gunned over the neighbourhood.  Children were out at play, but were immediately called into the verandah until everything was quiet. No Warning Given.

October 24th  28th 1940  The school was closed over the half-term and no entries made in the log book. [S73 unless otherwise stated.]

November 5th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 10.25 to 10.45

November 6th 1940 - Air Raid Warning9,25 to 9.40; 10.9 to 10.35; 2.30 to 3.13

November 7th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 12,3 to 1,5. No afternoon school as the children returned or stayed here for shelter.

November 8th 1940 - Air Raid Warning10.0 10.35; 11.28  11.45

November 11th  1940 Air Raid Warning 9.21  9.50; 10.42-10.55; 2.46-3.26

November 13th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 1.30-2.36; 3.24  4.0

November 14th 1940 - School is open from 9.30 from now onwards.

November 15th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 1,28  2.12

November 18th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 2.50-3.50 All Clear Not Heard.

November 21st 1940 - Air Raid Warning 2.10 to 2.50

November 25th 1940 - Air Raid Warning11.58 to 12.17

November 27th 1940 Air Raid Warning 3.47 to 4.20

December 5th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 1.51 to 2.9

December 6th 1940 - Air Raid Warning10.55 to 11.29

December 16th 1940 - Air Raid Warning 11,49 to 11.57

December 20th  1940  January 7th 1941  School closed for Christmas break  no log entries.

1941 - There was a general order to remove unnecessary  iron railings to aid the war effort.  Leverstock Green School , however, managed to retain its railings in  order to "prevent the misuse of the outside office by the public", and "for the safety of the children ".  [ S19 p.80 ]

The Leverstock Green Pig Club was reported to have been doing well early in the year.  It had made a profit of £15 and all members had had a joint of pork in time for Christmas. [ S19 p.88 ]

January 7th 1941- "School reopened this morningAir Raid Warning 9.17  9.56; 12.00- 12.17; 12.40  4.18 Afternoon session cancelled."

January 16th 1941 - At a meeting in St. John's Hall Boxmoor, it was announced that a scheme was to be set up in Leverstock Green  (as well as other areas) to form fire-watching parties. [ S19 p.98 ]  

January 21st 1941 - Air Raid Warning 10.35 to 12.15   1.15 to 2.05

January 28th 1941 -  Air Raid Warning 1.25 to 2.15

January 29th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 9.40 to 10.45

January 30th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 3.00 to 4.00

January 31st 1941 - Air Raid Warnings 9.25 to 9.40; 11.40 to 12.16; 12.35 to 3.45

February 3rd 1941 Air Raid Warnings 9.35 to 9.50; 10.13 to 10.35; 12.20 to 12.42

February 6th & 7th 1941 - ..Classes 4 & 5 over here instead of old school owing to small numbers."

February 17th  1941 - Air Raid Warning 2.45 to 3.08

February 18th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 2.58 to 3.27

February 20th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 11.00 to 11.37

February 27th 1941 - Air Raid Warnings 10.35  10.55; 11.14  11.28; 12.35  1.18

March 7th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 11.25  11.40

March 20th 1941 - Air Raid Warning 2.57 to 3.55.  There were no further air raid warnings recorded for over two years.

April 9th 1941 school closed after today for Easter Holiday. 9 Scawfell 10 year old girls to be transferred to Boxmoor.

May 14th 1941   The following entry conjures up rather an intriguing picture  perhaps ritual dances around the Maypole were intended to ward off invasion!: "Half-Holiday this afternoon fro war Weapons Week.  Children marched to green where they performed Singing Games, Country Dances and Maypole Dances."

August 12th 1941  School reopened this morning .Classes V7 VI have been transferred from the Old School, Bedmond Road to the Parish Hall, where two rooms are to be used."

November 19th 1941  - HMI's called at 1.45 today to see School Railings & talk about School Meals."

1942 - Four gilded carved mahogany angels were fitted to the riddel posts of the High Altar in Holy Trinity Church.  This was done in memory of the Rev. Arthur Durrant. [ S2 p.6 ] These angels had been commissioned by the congregations a memorial to the  Rev. Durrant, and had been carved by local sculptress Miss Brenda Bessant out of Mahogany.

April 1942 - The Leverstock Green Home Guard, previously part of the 5th Herts Battalion, was transferred to 22 Company, to become the new No. 3 Platoon.  See page on Homeguard.

April 21st 1942  "Miss M. Davis, LCC teacher transferred to George Street School as all evacuee children are to attend Two Waters Evacuee School.  The  Parish Hall ceases to be used as a school."[S73]

May 1943 - . There was a big demonstration in Leverstock Green to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Home Guard. 

It was reported that poultry theft had become prevalent in the area.[ S19 p.88 ]

February 2nd 1944  - "Mr. R.R. Baxter, Chief ARP officer visited this afternoon and gave a short lecture on the "Butterfly Bomb", showing an actual bomb." [S73]

June 16th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  from 2.05 pm to 2.50.[S73]

June 22nd 1944 - Air Raid Warning   - all clear at 10.5  [S73]

June 23rd 1944 Air Raid Warning  - all clear at 9.12 [S73]

July 3rd 1944 - Air Raid Warning   15.23 hrs  17.52 hrs. Children taken home in groups."  [S73]

July 19th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  9.22 to 11.45. Air Raid Warning  10.10 to 11.45 (No All-Clear heard.) [S73]

July 21st 1944 -  Very little work done owing to ARW's.  7.40  10.00; 10.18  11.50; 12.30  14.11; 14.30  14.42  15.33  15.44 [S73]

July 24th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  15.07  15.17  [S73]

July 26th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  14.25  14.39  [S73]

July 27th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  15.21  15.45 [S73]

July 28th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  13.30  13.58 [S73]

August 1st  1944 - Air Raid Warnings  09.48- 10.00; 14.15  14.29; 15.35  15.47 [S73]

August 3rd 1944 - Air Raid Warnings 06.50  09.25; 09.54  11.58; [S73]

August 4th 1944 - Air Raid Warning  15.43  16.10 [S73]

August 8th 1944 - Air Raid Warning 08.57  09.27 [S73]

August 11th  1944 - Air Raid Warning 14.18  14.30.  [S73]

1944 - Under the county Development Plan classes were to be reduced to a maximum of 30 children, and Leverstock Green JMI was to be reconstructed as a 5 class JMI. [S19, p.163] 

October 1944 - Moves to get a speed limit through the village of Leverstock Green failed to win support form Hemel Hempstead Borough Council.  Alderman H. Fletcher told the meeting that people seemed to think that if the speed of cars were reduced all would be well.  He thought that a false hope. Alderman Fletcher went on to add that every village in the country wanted a speed limit imposed, and the result was that on main roads traffic was impeded by endless restrictions.  Fifty years on we are becoming more enlightened and recognise that restrictions in certain areas are necessary for safety.  Nevertheless arguments still continue as to who should be given primary consideration - through traffic or local pedestrians. [Gazette, 6/10/94]

1945 - The organ in Holy Trinity Church was moved from what is now St. Benedict's Chapel to its present position at the back of the church.  It was overhauled at the same time. [S2 p.6]

February 27th 1945 -The top 3 classes at LG school went to the Parish Hall for a concert under the ausp[ices of the Rural Music School [S73]

March 14th 1945 - Air Raid Warning   9.21  9.27 [S73]

March 19th 1945 - Air Raid Warning   8.16  9.26. Many children thus late for school." [S73]

March 28th 1945 The headmaster noted, together with the fact that the  

7th May 1945   - At 7.45.p.m. a B.B.C. News Flash announced Victory in Europe, and on the 9 o'clock news, two days of national holiday were announced.

Tuesday 8th May 1945.    - This was officially declared VE day. There was a street party for the children in Leverstock Green, and each child was provided with 6d pieces and two savings stamps, in addition to food and fun. [S19 p.118 ]

May 8th & 9th  "School Closure for Celebrations in connection with Victory Day  the End of the War in Europe."  [S73] 
First Active Service Casualty

A notification received early this week from the War Office by Mr. & Mrs. A. Collins of No 3 White Horse cottages, informing them that their only son, Pte Arthur George Frank Collins, had been killed on active service has cast gloom over the district.  This well-known and popular young man is the village’s first active service casualty.
Twenty-four years of age, Pte Collins was serving with the 1st Bucks Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a despatch rider when he met his death whilst on Saturday afternoon as a result of a collision with a motor lorry at Culmstock, Devon.
A regular soldier, joining the army three months before the outbreak of was for a period of 12 years, Pte Collins began his service with the Somerset Light Infantry, and was attached to the Regiments General signal headquarters.  With his regiment Pte Collins served for a considerable time in France till that country’s capitulation, when he was evacuated with the other British forces.
Following the evacuation Pte. Collins spent several weeks in a military hospital and later he was among a large number of soldiers from his former Regiment that were drafted to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
Born at St. Michaels, St. Albans Pte. Collins came from there to Leverstock Green five years ago.  Previous to joining the army he had been employed as a builder’s labourer at Guildford.
In this great loss they have sustained Mr & Mrs Collins will have the sympathy of the whole village.
A full military funeral took place at the Exeter High Cemetery on Tuesday.  A service in the cemetery chapel preceded the interment in the special section reserved for military burials.
The coffin was draped with the Union Jack and the late soldier’s helmet placed on it.
Six members of Pte Collins’ Platoon acted as bearers, and the C.O. and adjutant of the Battalion and members of his Platoon were present to pay a last tribute of respect.
The Last Post was sounded by the Battalion bugler as the coffin was lowered to rest.
The immediate mourners Mr & Mrs A. Collins (father & mother), Mr & Mrs J Bacon, (brother-in-law and sister Miss J Collison (friend) L/Col Collinson of the Somerset Light Infantry (friend).
At an inquest at Exeter on Monday afternoon a verdict of accidental death was recorded.

ABOVE: Arthur George Frank Collins. (Copyright Julie Smith)

The report to the left came from an undated press cutting from the Gazette, owned by Julie Smith, Arthur Colin’s niece. However from the CWGC we know he died on 24th August 1940.
24th August 1940 - Death of Pte Arthur Collins.
Click here to go to memories of 1944 & 1945 by David Burks
David Burks memories of 1944 & 1945
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War Graves Commission Roll of Honour
Dacorum Heritage Trust article on LG War Memorial
A detailed history of one village in Hertfordshire UK.
Click to link to principle LG Chronicle web pages.
Leverstock Green Chronicle pre 20th C

Maplinks page (for large scale and old maps of the area.)

21st century LG
Information re The Hemel Hempstead Local History & Museum Society  also their new website.
FALLEN COMRADES - those who lost their lives in conflicts 1939 to the present day.
 the men who went to war from Leverstock Green 1914~1918 Surnames A-O