Ivy Powell's War Memories

Ivy Powell (Neé Hymas) Clearly remembers the day the Second World War, was declared

Ivy on her 100 birthday. August 2009
Ted and Ivy. (1954)

Ivy, who was born at No.5 Railway Cottage, Laindon and is now living with her daughter, Joan in Outwood Common, Billericay, reached the tender age of 100 in August 2009 and remembers quite clearly the day the Second World War, was declared.

11.15am Ted, my husband, was out working with the ARP, when the expected announcement came. My next door neighbours, Bert Taylor and his wife Olive came round to listen to the broadcast and when it finished, we both looked at each other and Bert said ‘what do we do now?’ I replied laughing ‘better get a shovel out and start digging a big hole in the back garden’.

Ted in fact was in the Red Lion pub in Billericay High Street at the time. His office was in the old Town Hall (now Café Uno). He and his colleagues had taken an “executive decision” to have one last drink before the balloon went up and that was where they were when the sirens started to wail, a sound they were soon to become very familiar with.

We were living in Mill Road, Great Burstead at the time and whenever the sirens went off at night we would drag the beds into the passageway where there were no windows. On one of the raids a bomb was dropped at the bottom of Mill Road near the Kings Head. Many homes were damaged. Unfortunately there was an old couple living opposite us and the wife was killed when a piece of wood lodged in her back. Her husband was found several days later over at Orsett where he had drowned himself.

We moved to Archer Road, Laindon in 1940, to be closer to my sisters Daisy, Maud and Beat. Our little white bungalow was cockleshell dashed, rather than the more usual pebbledash. That was quite normal in this part of Essex, with the shells being used from the cockle sheds of Leigh. Not something you see theses days. The front garden faced the High Road school playing field. We did not initially have an air-raid shelter so we used the school one. On one occasion my sister Daisy and I were sleeping in the shelter when a bomb dropped at the back of the cracker factory on the Arterial Road . Daisy in fact was awake and got very scared when she could hear footsteps coming towards the shelter. It turned out to be two very drunk Home Guards men wanting glasses. Well, their Headquarters was the New Fortune of War pub.

Ted received his call up papers and passed various test to become an  ‘RAF Flight Mechanic first class’ but Mr Seaman, the officer in charge of the ARP in Essex kept him back so he could train Ambulance drivers in First Aid and assist in the organisation of ambulance service in S.E.Essex.

We eventually got an Andersen Shelter but this was stolen so a brick one was built. From our Front window we could see the children going into the shelter for lessons, I used to get very uneasy when children who should have been in the shelter were outside messing about.

It was a relief when the war ended and the blackout was lifted and we were able to turn on the lights without having to worry about covering the windows. Neighbours of mine were fined for showing a glimmer of light. That is something I would not want to go through again.

After the War, Ted joined J Toomey Motors Ltd in the High Road, Laindon and one of his jobs was to collect the Prisoners of War from the camp in Dry Street and take them over to Aveley where they were put to work building prefabs. Joan their daughter, sometimes went along for the ride, being only 4 at time the prisoners made a great fuss of her and they made several wooden toys for her. One in particular was a wooden scooter painted red and white.

In later years Ted, along with other members of the local SJAB, was made a Serving Brother of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in recognition of the work they did in the Canvey Island floods of 1953.

Ivy was to experience on the 13th October 1996 at the age of 87 a flight in Concord.

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  • I love reading about our family history. Aunt Ivy’s memory was amazing! We loved hearing all her stories. It’s great reading everyone’s comments as well. Far to much history has been destroyed in Laindon and it’s good to keep it alive!
    My grandad was Les Hymas and my mum was Christine Hymas x

    By Bonnie Dellar (Hymas) (06/11/2019)
  • Hi Joan, my mum Marge Taylor (Saltmarsh) was a good friend of your mum, my grandparents lived at number 6 Railway Cottages.

    By Alan Taylor (10/11/2013)
  • Hi Joan, I am Trevor Collison, remember me? When you were little, In the 40’s and early 50’s I lived 3 houses up from Ted, Ivy, and you, at 34 Archer Road with my Mum Doris (High Road school art teacher “Mrs Collison”), and brother Denis. I remember the three of you well. The old grey cells are slowing down a bit now, but I have a vague idea you had a younger sister is that so? I live in Queensland Australia now, but Denis is still in Essex.

    By Trevor Collison (20/08/2013)
  • Hi Joan, My grandad has asked us to look into his family who he has lost contact with. His name is Reg Rugg and his mother was Alice Hymas. From what he has told me I think Ivy may be his aunt? 

    If you have any other information about the family I know he would love to see the family again. Look forward to hearing if the information we have is correct 🙂

    By Louisa Rugg (18/04/2013)
  • I to went to Laindon High Road 1946–1950. I remember Mr.Woodward teaching Maths, Mr.Mrs Gay, Mr.Clough, Mr.Reeves teaching History, Mr.Lane, Mrs.Verlin, Miss.Fairburn, Miss.Jollyman, was the art teacher, Mrs.Collison?? I cannot remember the name of the R.E.teacher or the cookery teacher, but I remember having to make a apron and cap in needlework with Mrs Gray before we could do cooking.

    By Mary Hawkins (Pratte) (11/12/2012)
  • Hi everybody….just thought I let you know Ivy has just celebrated her 103rd birthday

    By Ken Porter (19/08/2012)
  • I can remember a Dougie Hymas from my days at the High Road school 1946 to 1950.  The head was Mr Radford and then Mr Woodward; teachers, Mr and Mrs Leeb, Mr Clough, Mrs Pierce, can’t remember the Art teachers name but she taught us dancing after school. Mr Lane was geography teacher. Happy days.

    By len boret (03/08/2012)
  • I am happy to say that cousins Douglas and Beattie visit their Aunty Ivy regularly.

    By Joan (09/01/2012)
  • It was nice to read about my Auntie Ivy who is now 102. I lived at 1 Buckingham Road, Laindon and I was probably one of the boys who she saw outside the air raid shelter!  We were allowed outside in the sun and it was most enjoyable.   

    I had my first ‘snog’ with a young girl (we were both 12!), her name was Benita Bettice, I wonder if she remembers?

    I remember a land mine going off at the top of Archer Road creating a very large crater. I also remember going to a Christmas play at the POW camp put on by the German prisoners; some were dress in drag!

    My one friend at Laindon who I would like to contact was Frank Yule who also lived in Buckingham Road, Laindon.

    The Schools were closed in Southend and I was getting one lesson a week in a private house by a teacher who went round dozens of houses. He was teaching all ages (I was 7) and the homework was far too hard but OK for a 10 plus child.

    We moved to Laindon in 1940 to be near our relations and for me to get a full time education.  I got a scholarship at the age of 13 (failed the 11 plus) and married my wife who lived at Pitsea but didn’t know her until we met at Southend Municipal College.

    By Alan Waller (08/01/2012)
  • Kate and Percy Hymas lived next door but one to us in Denbigh Road; I remember daughters Beattie, Maudie, and Kathy, sons Lesley, Dougie and David; if I am right and these are her relatives, does she have visits from any of the surviving ones?

    By Andrea (08/01/2012)
  • My grandad read this story with a big smile across his face, he lived opposit Ivy as a young boy and remembers her well, he was amazed by the photo of her 100th birthday, it has inspired him to start telling me more of his memories to go on this site.

    Thanks Emma I look forward to reding his memories

    By Emma Thomas (25/03/2011)

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