Four Elms From 1939 To 1959.

A Memory of Four Elms.

Born on the 4th January 1939 in 14 Council Cottages, son of Jack and Francis Cole and cared for by my Gran and Granddad who lived opposite, I had super baby years, although Dad was away fighting. I can vaguely remember sleeping in the Anderson shelter in a house in Bough Beech where Mum used to work.
Better are my memories of the school in Four Elms, where we were all in the same class room, except for the infants. I can remember the Head Teacher Mrs French, and her assistant Miss Smith, and the Leigh Brothers who were the bullies, bad luck if you sat near them, a clip on he ear was the start, and you had to put up with it or you were lost. Later they both became Military Policemen, any association is not intended. The Cartwright Brothers were tops, and both could hit the School Bell with a stone no problems. Later I remember them as top Cricketers for the Village Team.

War time memories:

One weekend when two senior girls Joan Bennett (later married Brady Wells, and Wendy Lucas forgot who she married) were feeding the school rabbits a Doodle Bug (Rocket) decided to land in the Cricket Field. The girls had heard the siren and were already in the shelter, so they were safe. However the Cricket Pavilion lost a complete end from the explosion. We were told, if you saw one, and it was blurting, all ok, but if you saw it and heard nothing - up in the shelter. The Spitfires from Bigginhill used to fly under them and tip a wing, causing them to land in the Wield Woods. The holes they made could be seen for years.
We had an Artillery WO as Lodger, Tom Sumers, to us Uncle Tom, he later married Sybil Dawes, who lived across from us. It was Uncle Tom that gave me the reason to sign on in the Army after a few months National Service as a Special Operator Royal Signals for the War Office.

For us youngsters around 10 years of age there was enough to do, helping where we could, and later, when strong enough, hay making and harvesting in season. Mum was by now working in Dunmore for Sir Dereck Greenaway, so I was forced to go weeding with my mate Mick George who was driver for Sir Dereck; Mike's Dad was gardener at Dunmore. After Secondary modern School ( I was head boy there) I started as trainee at Mosely Motors in Edenbridge - that lasted a year. I then went to SEEB in Sevenoaks until I was 18. National Service ended that.
In the earlier days I worked for Major Sparks in his small holding, driving his old Ford tractor, and a cultivator. Feeding the pigs was also part of the work. Ron Burchel, who lived on the square, was a good mate of mine and helped me at Major Sparkes. I always had, two jobs, to keep me busy.

Village persons:

I believe the first owner of the Post Office I can remember was a Mr Bashford, and later Mr Mc Combie took over. They also ran a small cafe which was well used over the week end by cycle clubs out off Croyden; toast and tea was a good seller. I helped at times as Malcombe Mc Combie , their son, was a part of our gang as to say. Jack Mitchel ran the small garage and pumps, we took our radio accumulators to Jack for charging.
Revy Thompson was the Landlord of the Four Elms, a Style and Winch pub in those days. He had a small holding so hay time was a working time for him as well. Revy also provided the tea for Football Matches on a Saturday, when the field near the Parish Room had been cleared of cow cakes.
Mr Austin, Bobby Austin, was the law in Four Elms, and he was a top man....I will never forget, I sat on the banks of the pond with my catapult drawn right back, Me: "got you", as I aimed at a duck - a big hand grabbed my firing hand "NO you ain't young John". Many years later, on leave, I met Mr Austin who was retired by then. He offered me tea and then got out a box "you can have your catapult now John"
The two ladies who lived in the bungalow near the Post Office taught me Braille typing....I was not very good but manged to do some books.
The village groceries was I believe run by Mr Chapman, and Bobby Austen used to stand on he door when bananas were there, to ensure that no extras got to the rich.

Added 01 August 2020


Comments & Feedback

Such wonderful memories! Thanks for taking the time to share with people ,I enjoyed reading them 😀
In the early 1940's my mother lodged with Mr & Mrs Martin who lived in Council Cottages, Four Elms. I cannot remember the number. I was born in an emergency maternity hospital on Broadwater Down in Tunbridge Wells on 19 June 1943. The day before I was born my dad, who was in the Royal Engineers, had set sail to Burma to join the Chindits.
I don't remember the following because I was too young but mum often talked about wartime in Four Elms.
One day people heard a odd noise in the sky so everyone rushed out to see what caused it. A strange craft could be seen flying towards London. There had not been any information about it on the radio but after a few days they were told that it was a flying bomb, known as a doodlebug or V1. People became used to seeing them and were aware that as long as you could hear the engine noise then you could carry on but if the noise stopped then take cover because it would fall out of the sky.
There was a time when a siren went and the whole family rushed to shelter under the stairs when somebody said "Where's Michael?" In the rush I had been left lying on my back in the garden watching the skies.
My mum said she enjoyed her time in Four Elms but it came to a sudden end when the house was damaged by a bomb.
We had to be evacuated to somewhere that the doodlebugs could not reach...Bradford in Yorkshire. We were the last to leave the house and there was no one left to look after the family dog and mum had to take the dog to the village butcher to be shot. A sad end to a happy time.
After the war we called to see the Martin family who had moved back into Council Cottages.

Michael Martin Cody

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