Wartime Schooldays


Stan Kelsey remembers the early years of the war, when he was attending St Nicholas School: 

"There was an air raid shelter in the school in the boys playground, that was a blast shelter for the boys to dive into. Where you go in where the nursery is, it was down there just on the beginning of the playground. That’s where the kids who lived out of town had to go. The local kids had to run home!"

"When the sirens went everybody dashed out of school to go home. The sirens went one dinnertime, we were running down the Blundells and a jerry plane was flying round the brickworks chimneys. My dad was in the coal yard (at the station) and said if he had a 12 bore he could’ve shot it. It circled round, a Heinkel or something, but it got here as the sirens went! Circled round, then all of a sudden there was fighter, out of nowhere and in the distance you could hear tatatatat, they reckon it was shot down over Rugby somewhere. It was on reconnaissance I think. It was only just above the housetops."

"For the incendiaries, all us older ones were taught at school. The fire brigade went up there, made a ring of sand, filled with oil and lit it, and showed us how to put it out, and also how to put an incendiary out. I were only 13 years old! I look back and I think 'Kids today they wouldn’t know what they were doing!' "

"When we got into the top classes, we did gardening. They didn’t dig the field up but all round the school they dug all the borders up and I had a carrot patch.  When we harvested them they were all stored on the landing near the cloakroom in a big wooden box of sand. The carrots were kept in the sand for when they were needed. The girls had cookery lessons and cooked the meals for the kids that stopped at school for dinners, we grew all the stuff. All they bought was the meat.  All that was turned into gardens, potatoes, cabbage, we were learning gardening.  Girls of 14ish, so many each day would do the cooking under supervision. I left school in 1941, age 14."

"The Abbey End explosion took out many of the windows of St Nicholas, which was then closed for a while. Many school days were only half days. We used to get taken to the castle for history lessons or the Abbey Fields."

"That was a thing at school, who got the biggest bit of shrapnel! We would collect bits on the way to school in the morning."

"I used to go with my dad on fire watch, we had tin hats. I always used to sit with me mate on the chapel wall on the corner of Albion Street and Spring Lane. Half the time they were coming over and going all over the place, you could sit there, and they’d go over. The older people used to come out and take it in turns just in case there were any fires."