Watford in WW II

School days

We came to Watford at the beginning of the war because my father had been moved to an office in London. Blitz 1940/41: put to bed under the stairs until the air raid shelter was built in the garden. Concrete with bunk beds, a pick & shovel to dig ourselves out if necessary, 2 buckets. Put to bed there each night during that winter. After the war it was useful to keep the milk in as we did not have a fridge – only a meat safe in a very cold north east corner larder, off a scullery with a quarry tile floor that gave my mother chilblains.

Going to school with my gas mask: Oxhey school at first until it went 1/2 day as part was taken over for a shelter. Then those of us on the Oxhey side of the railway line were sent to Oxhey Hall where a room was requisitioned for a class. Later on to the junior part of the grammar school.

Air raid practice in the cellars. 1st year of the 11 plus – ok for those that passed. Lying in bed hearing V1s coming over. They never managed to take out Bushey arches but St Matthews and St Marys lost windows and roads on Oxhey Hall were hit.

A map of Europe out of a newspaper pinned on the kitchen wall with allied flags stuck on it – moved as the troops advanced.

Dont remember news of D Day but do of Arnham and have seen the war graves since. Rationing seemed to go on for ever – bread after the war and I had to take my ration book to college in the 50s.

Strange to see the road pattern now, we used to get the bus near Oxhey Park and it took us straight up the High Street to a stop opposite the library (very different then, lots of dark mahogany and silence notices but at least there were plenty of books, unlike now).




This page was added on 15/05/2012.

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  • Dear Aubrey
    HALS staff could assist by searching the 1939 and 1945 electoral registers (for a charge of £15). If you are interested, please email hals.enquries@hertfordshire.gov.uk

    By Marion Hill (12/02/2019)
  • My wife’s uncle served in the 166th Royal Newfoundland Artillery. At the time of the war Newfoundland was part of the United Kingdom. Newfoundland in the late 1940’s joined Canada.

    Among his wartime papers is a postal receipt for a (name withheld) living at 5 Sharp Crescent, Oxhey, Herts …. (I believe this is address)

    I am trying to identify the address and then the family of the name on the receipt.

    Any help would be appreciated to this Canadian Family in our hunt for a WWII association.

    By Aubrey O'Neill (07/11/2018)
  • My family lived in Brookdene Avenue and were bombed out in 1940, when I was six years old. The bomb fell in the road, 70 yards from our house. I suffered from shock. I cannot say whether anyone was killed, but I vividly remember the sound of a woman’s screams from a house on the opposite side of the road.
    We were billeted on a house in Vivien Gardens while our house was repaired. There was no shelter at all in that house, and we just lay on our beds listening to the raids, which terrified me. I remember going to school in Oxhey Hall, and then to Oxhey Infants School. Recently I looked at what terms itself to be the Blitz Map of London, which purports to have mapped every bomb to have fallen in the Greater London area during the Blitz, and was appalled to find that the Brookdene Avenue bomb is not mapped, though other bombs nearby, e.g., at Watford Heath, are. How can this have happened?

    By Geoffrey Madell (30/11/2017)