Life In A Kent Village During World War Two

A Memory of Benenden

Benenden was my home for the first 5 years of my life. We lived in Greenwood, a lovely white Kentish weather-boarded house on the Cranbrook Road, sadly knocked down and modernised a couple of years ago. I was born on February 14, 1940 in a glorious country house in Langley called Rumwood Court, which is still there. It was a maternity home in the War. Of course my mum called me Valentine, because of my date of birth, but luckily Anthony came first. My brother, John, who was six, wrote to my mum, saying 'Call him Chysanthemum.' She kept the postcard for years, to show what a clever boy he was to spell it correctly. My parents had moved to Kent to escape the bombing in London, but of course the Battle of Britain was fought right over the homes of Kent. I remember seeing planes being shot down in flames just above where we lived. Later when the V-bombers came I remember running into the house with my brother and sister shouting: "Doodlebugs.' It was terrifying for our poor mother but thrilling for us. My father stayed in London during the week, working during the day and carrying out duties for the Home Guard in the evenings. He often cycled all the way to Benenden at weekends. We lived in a house near the church on the green, a second house at the other end of the green facing the church and also in Little Barn, behind the second house, before we finally settled in Greenwood. This is what I've been told by my family. I remember walking with my brothers and sisters to the village school on the green. What a lovely place to begin your life, despite the war. Our dog, Sam, was a bit feisty. He once jumped from the top window to the front path, so he wouldn't be left behind. Sadly he died in London traffic when my Dad took him back there. My memories include falling in the pond in the garden and being fished out by my brother Pete, who was a teenager; playing with frogs from the pond and once accidentally squeezing an unfortunate frog. There was a farm next door and I've dreamt of finding a crashed plane in the field there, though I'm not sure if it happened or not. I've often re-visited the village and quite recently my sister and I talked to the lady in the village shop on the green. She said:'You're not Dorans are you?' She added that her big sister had been at school with and played on the green with our older sister. One day the teacher said: 'Whose sister is playing the mouth organ outside?' Our older sister Pat said:'I'm afraid it's my small sister Maureen.' Maureen was able to tell this story to the lady in the shop, Miriam, more than 60 years later. My sister has her own memories of Benenden which she may decide to share with visitors to this website.

A memory shared by Anthony Doran , on May 4th, 2012.

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