A scant 21 years after WW1 the parish found itself at war again and a surprising proportion of the population was caught up in either the Regular Forces or War Work. As a result, the need for labour was filled by either prisoners of war or "Land Girls". Some children were evacuated here. The Army held exercises in the surrounding Downs and the odd German bombs fell in the area. All this is captured in the diary of Oliver Morgan, who attended Ogbourne St Andrew school and whose family lived in Rose Cottage, next to the Wheatsheaf (now Silks on the Downs). Obviously part of his school work, his diary captures a fascinating mixture of world and local events from 1939, when Oliver was aged 11, to 1943.
A few items give a flavour of the diary, a copy of which is available for members of the History Group to look at. Our thanks to Oliver’s son Philip for his permission to reproduce these extracts.
June 17 th France asks Germany for Armistice Terms
June 24 & 25th: Air Raid Warnings given in Ogbourne by Messrs. C. H. Joyce: A. Reynolds and R. Simpkins (12.30am)
Rations for 1940 (per person): Butter ¼lb; Sugar ½lb; Cooking fat 2oz; Bacon ¼ -
October: Italy declares war on Britain
March 14th: Bomb dropped on the Rockley – Marlborough road (one minor casualty)
March 16th: Other bombs dropped by Manton Stables
May 10th Hess lands in Scotland
July During the last 4 weeks the children of Ogbourne St Andrew have saved £7 18s 1d – enough to buy:
a rifle (£7), a respirator and case (18/=) and a split pin (1d).
July 7 President Roosevelt sends American Force to occupy Iceland for the British, thus helping to win the
"Battle of the Atlantic"
July 16th Book written by P. G. Wodehouse – the traitor author – taken from our school library.
July 17th Seeing a very low flying plane drop a peculiar object, a number of boys ran to retrieve it. Donald Dyke
picked up what appeared to be a talc(?) shutter. This is, of course, being reported.
July 30th Their Majesties, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth saw a tank battle at Barbary, Rockley.
September 16th A trooper of the Q.B’s was run over by a tank and fatally injured on Lawson’s gallops, Og St Andrew
[actually Manton – ed].
Eight Italian prisoners employed by Mr. Whatley. Each man wears a brown corduroy tunic with a large
red patch on the back and smaller ones on the right trouser leg. The men wear no hats in the daytime
but later in the day have head gear of Italian pattern. One of the men can speak broken English, the
rest communicate by signs.
October School holidays divided into two periods – one in August and one in October. Children help with Harvest
and with potato lifting.
November 22 – 29th Marlborough and District raised £121,000 for the corvette "Snowflake"
[after distinguished war service, she was sold in 1947 and became a weather ship, scrapped in 1962 -
January A special "Salvage Drive" held in the district. Weather was bitter but Daphne Simpkins and Hilda
Godfred(?) organised a party of girls who collected over 6cwt of waste paper, etc. John Hatch, Donald Dyke
and two other boys hunted up all the iron and rubber they could and Mr Saunders kindly allowed
Mr Mabbutt to go round with a horse and cart and take it to the Vicarage dump.
February 14th Fall of Singapore
February 23rd School premises requisitioned as Battalion HQ by a Scottish Regt who are on manoeuvres supposed to be
repelling invaders who have landed on the South Coast. 80 of the men slept in the school while the
Officers occupied a room in the School House.
March 29th Palm Sunday. A Day of National Prayer by Royal Proclamation. Names of all serving with the Regular
Forces were read out in church. (27); Home Guard etc: (24).
April 21st Land Girls are at work with the threshing tackle in the rickyard next to this school. There are six of them.
April and May Women work full time sorting, spiking, weighing up planting potatoes for Mr P A Saunders and
Messrs Whatley Bros.
April Heavy raids on Bath 2000 casualties. Marlborough Fire Service called out. Messrs J. Walker and
O. Potter go from Ogbourne.
May 30th Biggest air raid in history carried out by RAF over Cologne. 1,000 planes took part, dropping
900tons of bombs. 44 of our machines failed to return.
May Glider, cut loose from tow plane lands on M’boro common with its crew of 7 or 8 men.
June 7th Practice of paratroopers landing near Four Mile Clump and Barbary Castle. The Home Guard participated
September 22nd Training plane crashed near New Barn. No one injured.
September 26 th Sgt Hatch severely injured by tank while walking from Marlborough on left of road.
Sept 23 -
November The Archbishops of Canterbury and York declare that, for the future, women and girls will not be
obliged to wear hats in church.
November 20th Russians gain a smashing victory in the Caucasus.
January 15th Parachutists, including one with motor cycle dropped on Manton Down (practice by our troops).
April 25th Easter Day. Grand service in with bells ringing and Home Guard and Civil Defence workers present.