Market Lavington Museum

A boy’s WW2 summer and autumn

Following on from the previous post, we will round up evacuee Maurice’s year and learn what boys found to occupy their late summer and autumn days.

They obviously followed the seasonal farming activities and Maurice spoke of his pride if he was allowed to take the reins of the horse and cart at haymaking time.

In the autumn he went scrumping for apples. Rabbiting was another way of getting some food for free and off ration. Maurice remembered this being done by sending a ferret down a rabbit hole, which frightened the rabbit out of its burrow and into one of the nets which had been pegged over the other exits.

Before the days of combine harvesters, corn was reaped and then tied into sheaves. Several sheaves would be stood up together to form a stook and the stooks would be left to dry in rows until they were gathered up and taken away for threshing. This photo is of a binder at work on Salisbury Plain in the 1930s.

Maurice explained how the rabbits living in the cornfield would run away from the binder into the uncut corn. As the binder neared the centre of the field, the rabbits would attempt to escape from danger. The boys, armed with hazel sticks, would cosh the rabbits and made a notch on their sticks for each one killed.

At the museum, we are very fortunate to have this written memoir of Maurice Came’s time as an evacuee in Market Lavington. Much of it records what life was like for a boy living in the countryside in the late 1930s and 40s but, from time to time, we catch a glimpse of how the war impinged upon the locality. He mentioned that film shows and concerts were held in the barn and that there was a searchlight battery at the top of Barn Hill. He also wrote about there being an army unit in a range of old buildings in the Market Place. Thank you, Maurice.