Holidays spent in the harvest field

HOLIDAY time in Suffolk for a schoolgirl in the 1940s was recalled in a recent Kindred Spirits by Margaret Sherman of Foxhall Road, Ipswich.

David Kindred

HOLIDAY time in Suffolk for a schoolgirl in the 1940s was recalled in a recent Kindred Spirits by Margaret Sherman of Foxhall Road, Ipswich.

Margaret told us how she enjoyed her harvest time stay at Erwarton in the summer of 1945, soon after the end of World War Two. This was a time when expensive holidays were beyond most families trying to rebuild their lives and children in rural areas were expected to help at harvest.

Joyce Wright (nee Coleman) of Westminster Close, Ipswich, tells us how children living in rural Suffolk in the 1940s were delighted in a visit to Ipswich.

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“I was born at Shop Corner, Erwarton in 1937. Soon after I was born my parents moved to Church Lane. There used to be three cottages there, today it is one big house.

“My elder sister and I had to walk to school at Shotley. I started school at four-and-a-half-years-old as my sister hated it, mum and all thought if I went she would settle down, this was 1941.

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“I can remember the sirens going, we were told to put gas masks on and lay down. Father or the Land Army girls would come and look for us, and stay until the all clear went, we would continue on to school.”

“Margaret told of her stay in the country, for us a day into Ipswich was out of this world. I can remember Margaret coming to Erwarton, we did play together. Later on when I married I came to live at Foxhall Road, Ipswich.

“We had been there a few years when new neighbours moved in next but one, it turned out to be Margaret and Tony Sherman. We made friends and have remained so for 43 years.”

Frank Symonds of Derwent Road, Ipswich, added “This brought back memories of pre-war school holidays when many of us 12-year-olds spent the whole of August holiday in the harvest fields.

“We were spread out round the field edges and killed any rabbits that tried to escape. All the rabbits were heaped up in a corner of the field, sometimes there were over 100.

“The farmer would patrol around the field and we watched until his back was turned, and then threw two or three rabbits over the hedge, and once the farmer was out of sight we were away home with our rabbits. Mother was very pleased with them, and gave one to our neighbours.

“Father would clean the rabbits and skin them, the skins were given to me and I would then take them to the nearest scrap yard and receive 4d each for them.

“On the way back home I would call in the nearest shop and buy a bottle of Tizer drink for 4 pence. When you returned the empty bottle you were given a penny, which was spent on sweets.”

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