Memories Of A Youngster - a Memory of Monks Eleigh.

I have many memories of Monks Eleigh. Although only 4 years of age, the sights I saw during the Battle of Britain in and around Monks Eleigh are vivid. Mother and I moved there in 1940, following Father who was with a searchlight regiment. We spent some time in a Tudor-style home known as "Hobarts" and some in "The Bungalow", then owned by a Mrs Gilmour. In the early 1990s I revisited Monks Eleigh with my wife and how the memories flooded back! There is the paddock where I collected pieces of Spitfires, Lancasters and FW108s and aluminium foil. Took them to the police station who promised us they would be made into planes for the RAF. There is the school, and The Swan (not that I visited there in 1940! I remember Father coming home on leave one day and asking me what I was playing with. I didn't know so showed the object to him. He very gently took it from me - I was playing with a live incendiary bomb! Thankfully he knew how to handle it.

"Hobarts" was painted white with black beams and acted as a landmark for both enemy planes and ours. The war department wanted to paint it out but some historical society protested that it was historic and could not be changed. One day Mother was preparing a meal when she heard a load roar and a Luftwaffe plane flew by at her eye hight. She always swore that if she saw the pilot again she would recognise him. He flew on and machine gunned people leaving a church after Sunday Service.

As children we used to watch the planes going off to war or coming home. Often they were in a real mess, shot up by the enemy. We used to cheer as we recognised the friendly planes and boo the others. I doubt we really understood what was really going on. During the six or so years we were in Monks Eleigh I started my education, firstly at the local school. We had a variety of teachers - as the younger were called up to fight, others came out of retirement being too old to fight. They seemed absolutely ancient to me.

In front of "Hobarts" is a causeway that leads across to the village proper. I remember going tadpoling there - naturally fell in a couple of times. I was given my first push bicycle one birthday and learned to ride in the lovely back lanes, came a cropper a couple of times but that is part of learning.

When peace was declared, Father was demobbed and we left Monks Eleigh to live in London. Father returned to the managerial role of Peter Jackson Cigar Merchant in Piccadilly Circus and I joined a local County Grammer School. In 1951 my parents had the opportunity to purchase the house as sitting tenants. To capitalise on the opportunity they sold up and we all moved to Brisbane, Australia.

I will never forget my years in Monks Eleigh. I have little chance of coming over to Britain again, but was so thrilled to find this web site which has been so entertaining and cemented my memories.

If any readers of this article were (or are) in Monks Eleigh about the same time period please email me. I'd love to make contact and exchange stories and memories.


A memory shared by Keith Banks on Jun 20th, 2011.
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