1941-46 SUSAN CLEAVER NÉE HEPPER

Yes, of course, I have many memories of Fawcett. I was there briefly with Eva and then with Polly. Eva was someone you never took liberties with. She ruled with a rod of iron and put the fear of God in me. I had a great respect for her all the same. Polly was so much more gentle and I know that some of us (me?) gave her a hard time with all our exuberance. Nevertheless, she was very sweet and kind, though I did find religion a little overwhelming at times!!

Jean Walker was a great friend with whom I lost touch soon after leaving school. Do you remember our guinea pigs which Jean and I had ideas of making money selling them to Porton Down? Even our efforts did not make 500 per week!! Our cages were hand made `Heath Robinson’ and our knowledge of the sexes limited. With baby guineas in abundance Polly finally put her foot down – no more. The three extra that appeared had to be bundled out via the day girls.

I remember the Air Raids and we all traipsed down into the downstairs cloakroom. Blowing up lilos. The inevitable hiss as someone’s went down, and a very Wiltshire young cook exclaiming “Oh Lord lighten our darkness!!”

The dormitory with Angela Young, filled with all the models of planes. Polly was very tolerant. Eva would never have allowed that I am sure. It was all innocent fun. How can one forget the war time food? Caterpillars in the cabbage, milk bottle tops in the porridge. Something we called Thames Mud which we spread on our bread at tea. Those unspeakable pies on Sunday supper. Hard pastry wrapped round a lump of gristle, and finally fish paste on fried bread for breakfast!!

I made my riding money clearing docks, picking up potatoes and hay-making. Jean Walker and I went to a farm of friends of hers and we helped with washing eggs and bringing in the milking cows. Polly never knew about the wonderful rides Jean and I had on the two farm ponies!! (or did she??)

We went for a bicycle ride one Sunday afternoon with Deirdre and several others across the water meadows. Deirdre fell in one of the ditches. We had to smuggle her upstairs and wash her skirt in the bath and out came several tiny fish! Alas the laughter brought Polly from her lair. Thankfully her sense of humour did not run out!!

Finally waking up around 4.30 a.m. one morning to the drones of aeroplanes. Looking out and seeing the sky filled with wave after wave of planes going over head. We knew something momentous was afoot, and at prayers that morning Miss Jerred telling us that `D’ day had at last arrived.

I married into the Army and we were abroad a lot and forever changing address, so that I lost touch with many old girls. However, I did have lunch with Anne Millington (Hayley) not so long ago and I write to Vivienne Hobkirk (Saunders) who lives in Wilts. I also managed a Commem. before Polly died; met Ruth and Joan Innes and Angela Young.

1942-45 ANGELA COLLIN NÉE YOUNG

Miss Eva Manning, much respected, and seemed to have a great deal to cope with, considering her apparent great age, which was probably only about 60ish, she seemed all of 80! I was asked to help with her few brown hens who were probably doing their `bit’ towards the war effort by laying eggs, there were only about 9 or 10 or them. I remember she had some eggs due to hatch off from a broody but there was much disappointment when they didn’t and turned out to be all bad. It never occurred to her that a cockerel was vital to produce chickens – I couldn’t believe her `forgetfulness’. There was a very fine ginger cat called Marmalade who she was very fond of and so was I. Miss M. retired soon after I arrived.

Darling Polly – she was the best and in my opinion the most outstanding Housemistress one could ever ask for – I owe her a great deal toward the development of my character – I often remember her even now.

I was an only child of an Army family – looked after by my Grandmother whilst my parents were abroad during the war. I was also dyslexic, which in those days was backward. In spite of this I was very happy at Godolphin especially being in Fawcett. I lived in Yorkshire and felt it was Godolphin’s war effort to take in this backward child from Yorkshire!! We each had in our cubicles, up in the dormitories, a china washbowl and jug of cold water, which froze in the winter. We collected warm water in enamel jugs from the bathroom to wash in the mornings. The fire escape was a good site for midnight feasts usually held about 10.30 if we could keep awake that long. We used to have to share bath water, it was bad luck to have second bath; it was pretty grubby. I well remember singing at the top of my rather fruity voice, not at all melodious “As Time Goes By” – “. ..and when two lovers woo, they still say `I love you.” etc: in comes Polly, with “That will do Angela.” End of song!

Polly used to take House Prayers beautifully, we needed prayers, away from home. The war at full pelt, it was a serious time. Polly developed my power of prayer enormously, she was very forgiving. I used to get into some hairy scrapes, and she was always very balanced and good at pointing out the folly of my headstrong opinions and actions. In these days, when women become ordained, I often think of Polly.

On Sunday evenings Polly read to us for one glorious hour – Dorothy Sayers was my favourite. She read most beautifully and we all had a pash on Lord Peter Wimsey, thought him simply divine, purely through her reading, leaving out the risqué bits no doubt. Her reading was magic to listen to.

We went down to the (A338) main road to watch and cheer and wave to the soldiers, British and American, in every sort of vehicle going to a mass on Old Sarum Airfield ready for the Big Push on D-Day. It was very moving and an emotional occasion. We probably were not supposed to do this but we did and I shall never forget that sight. Living in Fawcett down the Snicket was a 10 minute walk to school which made you make sure you had all you needed in your sack for the morning and work. You had a long haul back if you forgot anything. Each House in Godolphin had a definite character. You could tell a School House girl from a Methuen girl, and a Hamilton girl from a St. Margaret’s and so on; needless to say Fawcett was very special.

Polly always kept in touch with us right up until her death. She made a point of knowing our husbands and showed interest in whatever we did, enjoyed seeing our children; they enjoyed seeing her in return. Dear dear Polly, how very fortunate we have been to be brought up by her whilst at school. You asked “what was it that we were given which enabled us to survive” – apart from what I have written I say, probably, Horlick Tablets after lunch, when the sweet ration had gone.