Welcome to the BHS forum.
We welcome any memories of Byfleet life, or snippets of history related to Byfleet (by which we mean the ancient Parish covering Byfleet, West Byfleet and the nearby boundaries)
The Wikepedia entry for the history of Byfleet - Second World War, contains a paragraph stating that "elderly residence still remember a column of American tanks, stretching from Clock House to the War Memorial, running through the village in the period running up to D-Day. This I believe to be incorrect.
A convoy of Military vehicles of all types did pass through the village during this period and it lasted for two days. During this period pupils at the primary school who lived north of the High St. were told not to attend school. The army obviously did not want small children passing through their convoy with the risks that that entailed. As I lived in Hart Rd. I did not qualify for this holiday bonus. This event does not appear in the West Byfleet school record so I assume children over the age of eleven were deemed old enough to look after themselves.
The "American" identity no doubt arose because all allied vehicles engaged in the invasion wore a large white star on the side and top surfaces for ease of identification. The North American accent which may have be heard would be because the crews were Canadian. I do not think we ever saw Americans in Byfleet.
A couple of days after the convoy passed through we walked up Camp End Rd. in St Georges Hills and saw numerous tanks and military vehicles reversed back off the road in to the undergrowth beneath the trees. In those days of course there were far fewer houses in the area. Obviously this type of deployment must have taken place over a wide area.
My father went to work for the Locke King Estate on Brooklands in 1928.
Amongst other duties around the estate he took his turn to drive the emergency ambulance on a Sunday afternoon and take up station on the north side of the landing strip while the Brooklands Flying Club members flew around and practiced their “circuits and bumps”. Occasionally my mother and I would join him and sit by the ambulance and I think this is my first memory of Brooklands. I was probably three or four years old.
Another “perk” of the job was complimentary tickets for motor racing days and thus I was present at the last race day that was held at Brooklands. We were in one of the stands on the hill opposite the clubhouse. I remember my mother hoisting on her shoulders and saying “There we are duck. That’s the end of it, that’s the last race”. The Members’ bridge over the track was duplicated by the Byfleet bridge where the Oyster Lane entrance was cut through the Byfleet banking. I think many people thought that Brooklands racing would continue after the war until the Oyster Lane entrance was cut through. That finally put paid to any such dreams. In retrospect of course it probably would never have come back in to operation. There was not the money to repair it and motor racing headed off in a different direction anyway. During the war the Byfleet Banking above Oyster lane was topped by a row of wood and canvas houses as part of the camouflage scheme.
During the war my father worked at Brooklands Engineering in the paddock area which was managed by a lady – I am unable to recall her name but somewhere in the Brooklands Society there may be a record. The building is now LBB Motors I believe. It seems one row of racing lock ups still exist, though not I think the original, round the corner from LBB Motors but back in the 30s %26 40s a second row was situated behind the fuel pagoda stretching towards the river. During the war the one nearest the river had been fitted out with rabbit hutches down each side and the products complemented the meat ration. The workers took in turns to feed the livestock on a Sunday and, later in the war, I would accompany my father when it was his turn to carry out this essential service. We would enter “the track” via the Oyster lane entrance turn left and cycle along the Byfleet banking to the Railway Strait then turn on to the perimeter road and over the river bridge to the paddock. At this time the track was camouflaged by wire netting mounted on poles set into the track and the netting covered in metal turnings and traffic ran beneath. In one of the west facing lock ups was a blue Bugatti racing car which I found most interesting. I assume it was “marooned” at the beginning of the war. Having fed the rabbits we would then go on down to the river and do some fishing. In those days there were no trees along the river.
Aviation obviously formed a continuous backdrop at Brooklands and at Hart Rd where we lived we were pretty well under the flight path of most outgoing aircraft which over the years must have amounted to many hundred. I do remember being taken to South Rd. in St Georges Hills before the war and seeing a silver Hawker biplane of the Hart or Hind type wedged in the top of tall conifer tree. Apart from the Warwick crash later in the war there were no other crashes on take-off over a sixteen year period which, considering most were first flights for most of the aircraft is quite remarkable.
One individual I do remember, although of course I never met him, was Mutt Summers, the Vickers test pilot. He would occasionally arrive from the southwest and you always knew he was at the controls because of the way he brought the aircraft in. He used a technique of crabbing from side to side down the flight path and thus achieved quite a steep angle of descent. I have never seen it repeated anywhere else.
White Cottage which stands at the corner of Mill Lane and Church Rd (previously known as Church Lane) was once the home of Leslie Hore-Belisha. On the opposite corner stood the house of the village GP, Dr Alexander. At the beginning of the second world war tank traps were set in to the road in the form of square pits set in to the road surface and covered by a square concrete covers. At the appropriate time mines would have been laid in these pits. A pill box was also built beside the road in the garden of the White Cottage. This was not a coincidence. Hore-Belisha was Minister for Transport from 1934 to 1937 - thus the Belisha beacon at road crossings - and he was also Secretary of State for War from 1937 to 1940,introducing conscription in 1939. Further to this he had a significant disagreement with Field Marshal Lord Gort, Commander in Chief in France, over the lack of pillbox defences. It appears that Hore - Belisha was an advocate of such defences and the commander disagreed.
Whilst searching the web for Byfleet information I came across the following item in a summary of Surrey Policing events
1990, 14 February: During building work on the Brooklands estate at Byfleet a large three feet long Second World War 250kg German bomb was found and dealt with over ten hours as the explosive content was steamed out. http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/history-from-police-archives/RB1/Pt4/pt4TL198690.html
Julian Temple of Brooklands Museum tells me that they have sections of this displayed near their Hawker Hurricane - he remembers it being nicknamed the Valentines Day UXB.
Further to Mike Monatgue's recollections about obtaining apples and pears from the scullery door, I seem to remember getting apples by going through a green door in the wall of the property, but not going to the scullery. I used the self-service method!