More WWII memories of the army in Market Lavington
At Market Lavington Museum, we are fortunate to have several sources of information about the village in the Second World War (1939-45). These are in the form of oral or written memories from people who were either local youngsters or evacuees here and focus on their experiences.
The evacuees were not the only incomers at the time as there were lots of soldiers here too. (See A Lavington lad’s wartime memories) but our information about them is scanty and piecemeal. In this blog, we will look at a few more details tucked into evacuee Albert Emm’s typed pages of Wartime Memories of Market Lavington. (See also Emms – Evacuees and An Evacuee Remembers.)
The Emms brothers (Albert, older brother Fred and younger brother, Tom)
In his description of the shops and other buildings in the village, Albert mentioned ‘the army cookhouse and transport section’ were in the Market Place and ‘what is now Rochelle Court was the army barracks for the soldiers.’ We learn too of visits of a tea van for the soldiers as Albert recalled that ‘Living near there’ (the barracks) ‘was a lady and her son Donald. He used to make the soldiers stand in line on the Market Place when the NAAFI tea van came.’
In amongst his memories of good times in Market Lavington, Albert wrote that ‘The army had film shows in the cookhouse once a week.’ The children were eager to see these for .. ‘Sometimes we would be lucky and get in, other times we would climb up between the outside wall and the cookhouse and look at the films through a hole in the wall, hoping that the sergeant did not see us.’
Another snippet about the military presence came in a description of the Saturday night dances (presumably in the Village Hall) when ‘Sometimes, outside, there were fights between the British soldiers and the American G.I.s.’
Finally, Albert reminded us that war time and the military presence had its sad times too, including ‘the boy who died when the shell exploded in the fire when he was burning rubbish in the garden of the house in the hollow … going up Lavington Hill, also the two airmen who died in the burnt out plane that crashed in the field on the left hand side of Lavington Hill, roughly a hundred yards from the road.’ Maybe this is one of the theories suggested in Mystery of wartime crash.