At the outbreak of the war the County
Council believed that it was not necessary for the school to take
any major precautions against air raids. The glass in the windows
was treated with an anti-splinter solution and covered with wire
The school was given a stirrup pump, but a shelter was not deemed
The school managers were informed
by the Education Committee that: "The committee are of the
opinion that in a building as strongly built
as a school, the amount of danger will be negligible, and they do
not consider that any elaborate precautions need to be taken"
They further suggested that: "children should be instructed
to seek the safest part of the school building and to sit down against
the wall "
Luckily the school remained intact throughout the war apart from
suffering some broken window panes when a bomb landed in a field
near Bakers Hall. However a few hundred yards further along the
Nayland Road a house took a direct hit one teatime in November 1940.
Two of the occupants who were killed were connected with the school.
Mrs Willingham was the school caretaker,and her husband looked after
There were however happier moments. During these years a piped water
supply arrived in the village allowing new wash basins to be fitted
in the school. School meals of a sort began when a British Restaurant
was opened in a hut in Angel Yard. For 5d a day (2p) the children
were able to enjoy a good meal cooked by ladies from
In December 1942 the BBC Recording Car visited the school to record
the children singing two carols, 'l Saw Three Ships Come Sailing
ln' and Unto Us A King Is Born'.
This was broadcast on the Home Service on December 27th. The following
Christmas the older children visited the new American Air Force
base at Wormingford. The children had dinner and were then given
oranges, chocolates and sweets from a Christmas Tree.
The war produced a greater concern over the health of children in
school. There were more frequent visits from the school nurse,doctor
and dentist and in 1941 all the children were inoculated against
The Dentist's van visited the school at least once a year providing
treatment on the spot. In February 1944, sixty-four out of the 109
children present required treatment.
Normal school work continued. There were frequent visits from County
The Horticultural instructor came regularly, bringing seeds and
equipment and giving talks on subjects such as weeding and pruning.
Whenever possible, time was spent in the garden and the produce
Unfortunately in December 1943 a herd of cows managed to wander
onto the school allotments and damage a part of the vegetable crop.
However sales of produce for that year amounted to £29.15.5
(£29.77) and included 8cwts of potatoes and 148lbs of tomatoes.
A few weeks later the school was
awarded the Bedfordshire Cup for having the best model allotments.
When the war ended in May 1945 the children were given two days
holiday to enable them to take part in the celebrations.
More information on
life at the Primary School can be
obtained from the book produced by Janet Lumley in 2002
Obtainable from the School
When school resumed after the summer break in 1939, Britain was
at war with Germany. The evacuation of thousands of children living
in vulnerable areas of the country had begun on the day before Britain
declared itself at war.
North-east Essex and West Suffolk were seen as safe areas for some
of these children to take up temporary residence. During the first
week in September several thousand arrived at Bury St Edmunds railway
station on their way to numerous small towns and villages.
According to a report in the Suffolk and Essex Free Press:
Forty evacuees arrived in Bures St Mary on Sunday afternoon from
Ilford. They were received by the debussing officen Mr A Hugh Creek,
and by the billeting officers.
Members of the Women 's Institute provided a light meal for the
evacuees, who included a number of expectant mothers,
and willing helpers conveyed them to their new homes.
There has been a great rallying ofARP
workers, and all duties have been undertaken with a cheerfulness
and calm wholly commendable. (17)
The school suddenly faced a sizeable increase in numbers.
Thirty-two children were admitted
on September ll, with another seven arriving during the following
Despite the Government's intention to keep school parties together,
the children who arrived in Bures in the first weeks of the war
came from a variety of schools and location in London.
A few lucky ones came with their mothers but the majority came alone,
perhaps with a brother or sister, and occasionally with a school
ln all there were fifteen different
schools represented and some of the children must have felt extremely
alone, frightened and alienated from the world they had hitherto
The children ranged in ages from five to thirteen. The youngest
was Rita Mott from Ilford, who stayed at Bridge Cottage and returned
home after two weeks.
The oldest was Allen Beckett who came with his brother and was from
Becontree Upper School in Dagenham. The two brothers lived together
in the Croft and stayed for a month.
Many of the children did not stay long, returning home within a
few months, some within weeks, as the expected bombing of London
did not start, and both mothers and children missed each other.
Mr Creek, the schools head and the village billeting officer,
recorded in his log book on October 6th :
Mrs Neild, mother of two evacuee children from Ilford visited the
to explain that she had come down to take her children and those
of her neighbours home, as they considered that with air raid shelters
and eight barrage balloons in an adjacent park, they would be as
Ilford as in Bures.
As the war progressed and the bombing of London did become a frightening
reality, these early evacuees were replaced by others, some of whom
stayed for much longer periods.
Sometimes these later evacuees were accompanied by a teacher, although
not necessarily one from their own school. In October 1940 a number
of children came from East Ham and they were accompanied by a teacher
called Miss Lyness, who stayed teaching at the school until September
1942 when she was transferred to the Sudbury Senior
Another teacher, a Miss Llewellyn, accompanied a group of evacuees
who arrived in the village in the summer of 1944.
However although many of these children stayed for a time, she only
spent a few weeks at the school.