IF ANYONE CAN TELL US WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE, WE WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL. TAKEN FROM A PHOTO ALBUM ONLY CONTAINING
THORNHAM PEOPLE & PLACES
Sunday School tea party in March 1949
This shows Mrs Smith, two sisters whose names cannot remembered, Maureen Crouch, Veronica Cobb and Eric Francis.
Victor Ames, Alfred Cobb, Maurice Ames, Violet Ames and Unknown
Joan Ames, driver? Maurice, Victor and Alfred Cobb.
(Alfred Cobb was Henry's father and Veronica's Grandfather)
some people say this was the first car in Thornham, not sure on this, if it wasn't it must have been close to it
Doris & Henry Cobb (Veronica's parents) with their motor bike and side car in the 1930s.
The leather coat Henry is wearing was his 21st birthday present from his parents.
Taken by the Coronation Seat and the old barn between the King's Head and the Church. It must have been taken around 1953. Back Row: Tony Whiting, "Oxo" Walden, John Potter, Ronny Wadlow,Bruce Wilson. Front Row: Derek Fenton, Robin Burrell, Brian Fenton.
Peggy Cornell and Joy Matthews in approx. 1947
Robert (Bob) and Winifred (Winnie) Matthews with Mr. and Mrs. Harwood
Mrs. Ester Mann with Joy Morrison's twins, Donald Morrison Jr. and Patricia in pram and Jacqueline walking in 1962
Bernard Corston 1942
Nataniel & Annie Corston
Brenda Corston nee Greaves & Ronnie Corston
War Time Experiences at Thornham
I never knew
of this document until a few weeks ago, yes it was my father that wrote
it, he was 11 at the time. As a lot of people in Thornham can still
relate to what it was like during the war in the village, I thought it may
be of interest to people. It is typed exactly how it was written,
which for an 11 year old is pretty good.
On Saturday 2nd September 1939 we were taken to Brancaster Beach for the day, by the Strattens (visitors who stopped every year with us.) During the morning they listened to news on the wireless which didn’t give much hope of German troops leaving Poland, eventually they decided to take us home and return to their own home at Hendon. On Sunday 3rd September the Church Service was postponed until the afternoon, to listen to Mr. Chamberlains announcement at 11 o’clock of declaration of war on Germany, during that day my Mother prepared a refuge room, criss-crossing the windows with tape, blocking the chimney, cracks in windows and doors against gas, as she expected Jerry to attack by air the next day, thankfully gas was never used.
As an eleven year old school boy I was marched with other children to the Drill Hall sometime before the declaration of war to receive our gas masks, these always had to accompany us everywhere under punishment of a fine after the outbreak of war. Ration books and identity cards were also issued to the population.
Evacuees were billeted in the village from Tottenham; my Mother had the responsibility as Post Mistress for paying the sum of eight shillings per week per child to foster parents. The first troops to arrive at Thornham were a detachment of the Royal Engineers with a Searchlight Battery which was situated on the green. The Manor House (HQ) The Laurels, Marshlands and The Bay Tree Cottage (Officers Quarters) and York House (Canteen) were later requisitioned when in rotation the Norfolks, Pioneer Corps and South Staffordshire Regiment occupied these premises.
Not much action happened between September and May during the Phoney War. As children we were very pleased when the evacuees arrived as they shared our school for the first few weeks until they used the Drill Hall which meant we only had half day of lessons and had nature walks for the rest of the day. During this time we dug a trench in the school pasture to take cover against air attack. Anderson shelters where later distributed to some villages but not Thornham. At the outbreak of war all windows had to be blacked out at night, if a small chink of light was see you soon had a shout from the Special Constable “ Put out that light,” wood shutters were made for the Post Office windows which had to be put up for 5 ˝ years at dusk.
During the spring of 1940 the Germans Launched their offensive through the low countries and France culminating in the evacuation of allied forces at Dunkirk, 5 of our village lads who were members of the territorial’s were taken prisoner and one killed at St Valery en Caux.
The Country then had to prepare for invasion firstly a road barricade was made on the A149 road, mines were laid along the coast and Pill Boxes built, scaffold type poles were bolted together along the beaches to stop invading tanks. Members of the public were not allowed on the beach. Men between the age of 16 and 65 were called into the Home Guard, no church Bells were allowed to be rung as this was the warning of invasion.
We didn’t receive any damage from enemy bombing at Thornham, although many enemy aircraft flew over at night when attacking the Midlands. Sometimes bombs would be dropped on the marshes upon returning home, a magnetic mine was dropped on a field at Choosely road which didn’t explode, nobody was allowed up that road until the mine was defused. A Heinkel III flew low over Thornham after dropping bombs at Hunstanton and bombing at Burnham Market, two Dorniers were also seen. Two Hampdens, a Wellington and a Thunderbolt crashed on Thornham Fields.
During 1942 the Army decided to open an Artillery Range firing shells from 25 pounder and 100 pounder guns from Thornham Common the shells passing over the village to land on the beach if we were lucky, six shells dropped short on the village, one in particular was an air burst which smashed the Post Office window whilst I was behind the counter, an evacuee Mr Chart lived in Chequers cottage, he the husband fired the gun that nearly killed his wife. The Church Tower was used as an observation post for guns. About the same time a tank range opened at Titchwell and tanks used to come to Thornham Green to fire onto the marshes. Ruby was called up into munitions and worked in a factory at Letchworth, Uncle Fred was called into the army and took part in the D Day landings on June 6th 1944.
On December 7th 1941 Japan launched their treacherous attack on the American Fleet at Pearl Harbour which brought the USA into the war, by 1942 detachments of the American Air Force began operating from East Anglian Airfields flying Liberators, Forterresses Mustangs and Thunderbolts which we used to see forming up over Thornham for daylight raids on Germany. In the evenings we used to see the RAF bombers flying from Lincolnshire bases to Germany.
A few days before D Day thousands of United States Army Vehicles passed through Thornham in an easterly direction. At the age of 16 years all juveniles had to register for Youth Service, my turn came July 1944 when I joined 42F Squadron A.T.C. for 2 years prior to my RAF Service. During the war I followed its progress with maps and flags, I went to camp at RAF Coltishall during the August and found my maps a long way out of date after the rapid Allied advance after the breakout of Normandy.
From September 1944 – November 1944very heavy explosions were heard in Thornham which we have since learned were V2 rockets. Aunt Eva Greef and her husband were killed by a direct hit on Boxing Day 1944 in London. A V1 was see flying over Thornham, luckily it kept flying westward.
So, the allied advance carried on and on 8th May 1945 Germany surrendered. We still had the Japanese to settle, but by August 15th 1945 two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and they surrendered.
Soon afterwards prisoners returned who had been so brutally treated by the Japanese, Cousin Jack Greef being amongst those taken prisoner at Singapore and forced to work on the railway of death.
THORNHAM SERVICE PEOPLE KILLED DURING THE WAR:-
MARY BUNKLE killer 1940 Chelsea Barracks Bombed
JOHN HUMPHREYS Killed 15.09.40 Crashed RAF Thornaby
DAVID DRUCE Killed 1941 Western Desert (RAF)
ERIC HOWLING Died 1945 After returning from P.O.W.
SAMUEL HEWITT Died 1945 of Polio in Singapore (RAF)
ERIC PORCHER (ARMY) Killed 1943 Scicily
DONALD WOODS (ARMY) Killed December 1944 Belgium
War Time Experiences at Thornham
Aged 6 at outbreak of war.
I was swimming a frog in the rain water butt when my brother told me we were at war. It didn't mean much to me at the time. Life went on as usual in our village of Thornham on the North Norfolk coast. Some time later, refugee children from London arrived. One family, a boy and a girl, had their heads clean shaved, because of lice we presumed. Those children stayed with their adopted families after the war.
Later the army came and erected miles of scaffolding along the salt marshes to stop landing craft. They also fenced some fields between the village and marshes with barbed wire and "Danger - Mines" signs. Great consternation was caused when cows broke into the so-called mine field. No explosions, no mines. The only sign of war to us was the artillery firing over the village from the hills a mile or so inland to targets on the beach, so we got used to shells screaming overhead, and three landed in the village. We had tanks and search light batteries and the South Staffs Regiment so were never short of playmates - riding on their vehicles and eating their rations, not that we needed to as we never went short of food, there being seafood for the picking - fish, cockle, shrimps, mussels, samphire, winkles etc. Father had a large garden that kept us in veg. We also had pigs and poultry. I remember having a "snowball" fight with eggs.
We went to the beach when it was safe to do so, looking for, and often finding, emergency food packs washed up. These contained amongst other things chocolate, a luxury. Sometimes we would find a corpse then we would go with a farmer with his horse and cart to retrieve it. At times, bomber planes would crash in the fields around the village. We heard them going over and also German planes, which never bombed us. As stated earlier, our side did all the damage.
Three of us boys were cheeky to some soldiers one day so they caught us and their officer ordered us to be tied to a tree then lined up a firing squad and shouted, “Take aim. Fire.” Bullets whistled through the leaves. We were more polite after that.
Later in the war, German and Italian P.O.W.s would come to work on the land. To start with a soldier with a rifle used to escort them but later on they used to come on their own. They would give us little presents sometimes. They all seemed very nice, not like the propaganda we had, i.e. the only good German was a dead one.
What with the army to play with and the farms to play in, the horses to ride and helping on the farms we had a lovely war. I am sure it was the best childhood one could have.