Evacuation Days with Dicky Waite
The following was written by Dicky Waite's wife, of 70 years, Gloria. See, also, her tribute to Dicky in the Obituaries Section.
In 1939 I was 12 years old when War broke out having just won a scholarship to the Brockenhurst County High School and living at Lyndhurst in the New Forest 9 miles from Southampton. We knew that evacuees from the Southern Secondary School in Portsmouth were coming to the district and I soon became friends with some, first of all with George Allen and Gerry Bugo.
In 1940, my school moved from an old timber building into a splendid new one, leaving the old one for the boys and masters from Portsmouth but sharing labs and fields with us. In the first week of the autumn term in 1940 several evacuees joined us on the bus to school and this is when I first saw Dicky Waite and immediately liked the look of him!! He felt the same and we soon became good friends. He often came to our house where he was always made welcome. He sometimes did my art (he was good at that and I was rubbish!) and I tried to help him with French grammar as he had no idea about this. We would go for walks and to the local small cinema. We also formed a Youth Club and put on concerts when I wrote and directed plays and Dicky played his violin. I watched him play football for the First Eleven and run the mile on Sports Day. I also saw him playing lead first violin for his school orchestra.
But it was art which was his greatest talent and he left school in 1943 to go to College and this was the end of our "school romance"!!
His full name was "Desmond Kenneth" and "Dicky" evolved after a teacher noted his initials "D.K".
I am very proud of my year of entry (1939) to the PBSSS and rightly so for the following reasons. Mainly, we were the first intake (September 3rd 1939) following the outbreak of war, taken away from the comfort of home and surroundings we knew. As with every new year of entry, every student had to get to know his colleagues but we were all strangers in a strange place with no friends or families to help.
What is sure is that the whole school was not wanted by the locals - 400 boys in one go! Added to the problem was the school was an old building (mostly wood) and the new school was still under construction. We had to share the rooms with the local school and teaching was very difficult for both sets of masters. This went on for the first term and into the second before things improved by the partial opening of the new building.
We, of course, survived thanks to the efforts of the teaching staff sometimes doing so outdoors - weather permitting! I have a personal “happening”. Because I was a choir boy and, with another called Dan, we were sometimes together at the Briars Hostel between billets. There, Mrs Davies, wife of the teacher Mr Stan Davies looked upon Dan and I as “her angels”. About 30 years later I attended my daughters’ school, Manor Court, for the domestic science experience of eating a meal prepared by our daughters (Ed: that sounds pretty brave to me!!). There, Mrs Davies greeted me with “You’re one of my angels!” I do hope you like the forgoing and find it interesting. All of it is true and, perhaps, with my permission publish it when the time is right.
Ian Owen ( March 2017 )