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.

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