Wartime Evacuees

Horsmonden hosted many wartime evacuees from London and other urban areas

We encourage people to send in their memories of this particularly interesting time.

Some correspondence so far…

“During the war in 1939 I was evacuated to Horsmonden along with hundreds of other kids from London. Do you get any enquiries as to whereabouts of these kids, that is the local kids (in their 70’s now like me) and those from London? I lived in Horsmonden from August 1939 until June 1944 when the Tonbridge school I was going to – was re-evacuated to Exeter.”

“On September 1 of 1939 a group of evacuees arrived in Horsmonden. These kids were from the Burrage Grove School in Woolwich, London, my sister and I were part of this group, I was very pleased to find your website; it brings back lots of pleasant memories. One of the things that prompted me to look for information on Horsmonden was an email discussion I had with a fellow ex evacuee. The discussion was regarding where Wing Commander R. Stanford-Tuck’s plane crashed. My opinion was that it crashed in a small wood just west of a farm, at that time owned by the Larkin brothers. I know the farm was sold after the war, was it sold to the Sprivers? That’s the name you have in the Timeline. On the Sunday afternoon when the plane crashed I was billeted with a lady called Mrs. Lloyd. She owned a very old house on Lamberhurst Road, approximately about a mile from the village green, on the east side of the road. We had just sat down for Sunday lunch when we heard an aerial dog fight; we all (there were six evacuees living in the house) made a dash for the air-raid shelter, this being at the back of the house in a small orchard. As we were making our way to the shelter a plane passed very low over head, crashing in the small wood previously mentioned. That afternoon a gang of us boys and many others went to the crash site, during that time we saw the pilot Wing Commander R. Stanford-Tuck. I am having difficulty in remembering how we got to the crash site. It could have been through the Larkin’s farm yard or a foot-path that goes east just passed the farm and before you get to the Y in the road.”

“I was evacuated to Horsmonden in 1939 I was 8 years of age. I enjoyed my time there, I am not sure how long I stayed but I came with my School named Burrage Grove School from Woolwich S.E. 18. Two of my friends and I stayed with a Miss Tidy for a while which was right near the School then we went higher up the Road to Mr and Mrs Burr (he was a builder). While we stayed with Miss Tidy she took us hopping and we really enjoyed that, not sure where the hopfield was but we used to go on the bus I believe. I have recently been in touch with Evacuees United and found the address of a boy that came from our school and he came to Horsmonden about the same time as I did. He lives in Canada now and I think he knows of another boy that now lives in America. He remembers more of the time than I did I think he is older than I am. I live in St.Leonards-on-Sea now but have come back to Horsmonden on several occasions to have a look around. I remember the Village Green and I think I recall a Dr. Stitch and a Mr.Blood (Dentist) that had surgeries next to each other on the Green.”

“Your History Time line does not mention the Czechs who came to Horsmonden in about 1939 and were billeted at the “Girls School” almost opposite the Village School. These Czechs challenged the local Soccer Team to a match, and I believe they won in spite of a number of the men having no soccer boots and played in bare feet – with a bandage wrapped around their feet. I recall it was snowing at the time. Also in the winter a number of the Czechs could be seen on skis cross country skiing. Perhaps my memory is failing after all these years but my recollection of Stanford Tucks spitfire crashing in Horsmonden – the date I recall was the winter of 1940 – not during the summer (August ) as shown on your Timeline. My recollection was it was a sunny cold winter day – my friends and I were sledding down the hill of a field opposite the entrance to Capel Manor which at that time was requisitioned by the Army, as a couple of Soldiers joined in the sledding with us. I was half way down the hill and I heard a lot of shouting looking up I saw a ME 110 overhead – I ran in deep snow to the machine gun nest halfway on the the other side of the hill, and helped pass the ammo to the Soldier on his Lewis Gun. Just as he was about to open fire two Spitfires came over at tree top level. The first opened fire and bits flew off the ME 110 – but it was still climbing the second Spitfire went after it, closing in on it (too close) he fired and the ME 110 seem to blow up in mid air -unfortunately it damaged Tuck’s spitfire and he was forced to bale out. This is the only Spitfire I recall crashing in Horsmonden while I was there Sept. 39 – July 1944. On your Timeline you also mention a V1 coming down in July – near the Church. I also recall another V1 coming down – I am surprised no one else seems to recall this was in either June or July 1944 in the Orchard near Horsmonden Soccer pitch (this was a special orchard that had very small trees three or four feet high like dwarf apple trees). My brother and I were the first to arrive we expected to find a big crater – what we found was the V1 intact – what had happened was the V1 had pancaked hitting the orchard and the explosive part had broken off going at least 100-150 yards ahead and exploding on the edge of the soccer field in some trees the crater was about 25 – 30 ft accross.My brother and I were sitting on the wings of the V1 looking at the inside of the V1 when a Home Guard person comes up shouting that it is going to blow up – until we pointed him in the direction of the crater. Within a very short while the RAF arrived on the scene with a flat bed with a tarpaulin and took the V1 away. My guess it this is the only V1 that landed intact during the war and it came down in HORSMONDEN – and no-one seems to recall it. I also recall a Dornier coming down in Horsmonden while we were hop picking, and I also a Heinkel being shot down. Also a damaged ME 109 crashed in Goudhurst.”