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News > Memories at Hymers > WWII Memories: Richard Barton OH 1936-42

WWII Memories: Richard Barton OH 1936-42

War was looming, talk of Hitler invading countries in Europe and Churchill called it the 'Gathering of the Storm'
Richard Barton OH 1936-42
Richard Barton OH 1936-42

When Richard Barton, OH 1936-42, left school for the summer holidays in 1939, he would not have expected that day to be his last day of lessons in the buildings that are Hymers College.  He never returned to study in those buildings due to the outbreak of World War 2, which saw the students of Hymers College evacuated on 30 August 1939 to Pocklington.

We spoke to Richard about his memories of this time in his life.  He joined the Junior School when he was 10 years old in 1936, whereas most of his pre-school friends went to Beverley or Hull Grammar School.  He remembers fondly his teachers Gordon Fairs, the Junior School Headteacher, Oscar Kidder, Mr Nash, and Mr William A. Nicholls, who would later become Head of Junior School before being called to service, where he sadly lost his life.

He later moved into the Senior School and remembered teachers 'Tommy the Rat', Bill Cobby, who taught History and Scripture, Alfie Birtles (always on a bike), Freddie Telfer, and Mr Bunker, whose initials were G.A.S. Bunker!  Quite apt for the period of time.

Prior to the war, Richard remembered being taught about gas masks and having practices with them in the gym.

They were horrible, smelly rubber things that you could hardly enjoy but we knew they could save a life.  Fortunately in our existence in the war, we never had to put them on.

One day, the RAF were practising with an air defence balloon on Walton Street in full view of the Art Room where Mrs Anderson was taking the lesson.  There was a thunderstorm at the time and a sheet of lightning exploded the barrage balloon lit the whole sky up.  This did not meet with Mrs Anderson's feelings who demanded that the boys focus their attention on the blackboard, little realising that a near disaster had taken place.

On the eve of the evacuation, Richard remembers Stan Turner performing in the assembly, where he was able to change a modern pop tune into a classics in the manor of Beethoven or Mozart.  The announcement caused great interest and the next day, the boys and their parents assembled at 09:00 hours at Paragon Station.

Tears were shed in all directions as the boys embarked on their train journey to Pocklington.  Parents promised to visit them on Sunday ... if they were allowed.  It made few stops; one to pick up students and staff who lived in Beverley and again in Market Weighton to drop off Junior School teachers, in advance of the proposed evacuation of the Junior School there.  The Junior School evacuation to Market Weighton happened a few months later.

On arrival at Pocklington Station, there were lots of adults around with armbands - billeting officers.  Richard's name was called up and he was billeted to Ivy Cottage, the Station Master's Cottage, near the station.  There he would live with Mr and Mrs Tuxworth and another, older evacuee who worked with Mr Tuxworth called Robert.  Richard got on well with Mr Tuxworth and he remembers Mrs Tuxworth as a woman who loved to put on a good meal.

On Sunday 3rd September, at 11 o'clock they all gathered around the radio, where the announcement was not good news.  The country was now at war.  This increased the desire of the boys to see their parents that Sunday afternoon and the parents were able to arrive later that day.

So they adjusted to a new way of life.  They shared Pocklington School.  While the Pocklington students took their lessons in the morning, the Hymers students would do sport.  Their lessons started at 1:30 pm and would continue late in the afternoon until 5:30 pm.

Richard has memories of 3-course lunches being provided at the home of Mrs Buttle, a piano teacher's wife, three times a week.  There she would have about 7 boys over, often for a 3-course suet dumpling lunch.  That consisted of, soup ... with 2 dumplings, a main course ... with 2 dumplings, and as a dessert, treacle sponge ... with 2 dumplings.

His memories of Pocklington School Hall were of a lectern with a quotation of gold letters on red leather, which read:

"The end of education is a man not a book".  This stuck in my mind as very appropriate.

Stan Turner continued to play tunes in assemblies until he had to attend army training.  He returned from leave back to Pocklington where he brought along with him, his new wife Edna, whom they all applauded.

He recalls that at some point, his parents were able to borrow bicycles on their visits.  On Thursday 15 August, they were on Yapham Road, about 3 miles from Pocklington.  They heard the sounds of numerous aircrafts, machine guns, and bombs.  They first assumed it to be Pocklington that was targeted due to the runways of the airfield.  However, it was Driffield airfield, further away, which resulted in a loss of life.  He later learned that 50 Junker 88 Dive Bombers had targeted the airfield from a Danish base at Aalborg.

By this time, the Junior School had descended on Market Weighton, which included his younger brother, Michael.  His parents decided to move to Pocklington and rented a semi-detached house in Pocklington.  Michael could then commute to Market Weighton by train.  They moved to 11 Barnby Road, and shared the semi-detached house with the Cobby family.  Due to the proximity of the airfield to them, his Dad insisted on building a brick air raid shelter that they and the Cobby family used on numerous occasions.  The airfield developed quite rapidly and they were not happy to see the wing tips of Wellington Bombers poking through their hedge into their back garden.

One day, while returning from a private music lesson, Richard heard aircrafts above, along with warnings.  He rushed home and there was another Junker attacking the new runaways.  This further encouraged his parents to move to Market Weighton.

During another Art lesson, the boys witnessed a plane limping home.  The boys rushed to the window and again Mrs Anderson told them off for not paying attention.  Richard walked up to the blackboard and took the chalk off her before he was swiftly sent to see the headmaster, Mr Cavill.

From Pocklington, the family moved to a rented flat in Market Weighton, where it was then his turn to commute to school by train.

Over time, Richard reflected on the assemblies, where the sad news was told of teachers or past students from Hymers College who had lost their lives in the war.  Memories are never forgotten of the sacrifices made.

In 1942, Richard left Hymers College to work as a trainee Bank Clerk at Barclay's Bank in Market Weighton.  He was there for a year before the family returned back to Cottingham as the war neared its end.  His younger brother commuted for a short while from Cottingham to Market Weighton before the Junior School returned to Hull.

To hear more of Richard's memories in his own words, please listen to the following:

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