On the Home Front

By kind permission of John King, Author

Meanwhile the Scouts had become more organised. On Easter Monday the troop had drilled on Chislehurst Common before cooking themselves a meal, while in August the Scout Master took them on holiday with him to Tunbridge Wells. They became involved in the defence of London when three or four of the seniors were stationed at night at the Searchlights, as War Service Scouts. Duties included running with messages to other nearby stations as they were not linked by telephone.

The Sunday School also enjoyed an excursion in August when they rode in brakes to Keston. The reasoh for the local nature of the excursion was that the railway which was under great pressure due to the war, would no longer grant excursion facilities to children. St Mildred’s made an even shorter journey
— less than a mile up the hill, to the home of Mr & Mrs Stanley Coles of Enfield House. Their entertainment was a Punch & Judy Show in the nearby field of William Winkworth while another dairy farmer, Thomas Clark, provided free milk.

The farms were affected in various ways by the war. Several farm workers joined the forces, their positions being covered by children and women, although it was to be some time before the latter became formalised as the Women’s Land Army. Some of the farms also had to contend with the demands of the new residents at the Workhouse. In particular, John Woodman at Melrose Farm obtained a contract to supply the army with vegetables, thus necessitating the employment of over twenty Land Girls.

August saw the closure of the Belgian hostel in Baring Road. It was not that it had not been successful, but some of the refugees had returned to Belgium while others had found employment elsewhere. Two Belgian soldiers, no longer fit for service, continued to live there as caretakers and gardeners. Of the remaining Belgians, the Fund found rooms in Ronver Road for an elderly mother and her daughters, paying the rent and giving them a weekly allowance.

The month also saw the death of Lieut G D Mayo of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Gallipoli, his family living in Somertrees Avenue; and F B Goodall whose family before the war had lived in the house in Baring Road that became the Soldiers’ Institute.

At the end of September, yet another institute for ASC men was opened, this time by the YMCA, in Lee Road, in the group of shops just north of the Tiger’s Head and the present Post Office, known as the Lee Green Soldiers Club.

Back to Grove Park in the First World War

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