I was not long into the interview with Nellie what I was reliably informed that she is the oldest Finmere born person who still resides in the village. She has considerable knowledge of the villagers who lives and lives where. Until last autumn she still use to ride her push bike until she was taken ill.
Her memories of peace being announced in Europe included the day when a bonfire was lit on the village green. This is the little triangular grassed area between the Water Stratford, Fulwell and Valley Roads. The fire burnt so fiercely, that it set alight telephone wires. Children were presented with commemorative mugs. The celebrations lasted through the night with everyone having a whale of a time at the meet parties. Nellie says that families were closer knit in the war years and more sociable. People would place their gramophones near the front door and sit together in a group, listening to whatever was to be heard. Her husband Arthur and Mr. Cox with his brothers were part of the Finmere Home Guard team and she informs me that despite what is seen on “Dads Army,” the men of Finmere were provided with ammunition and tin hats that were kept in the stable at the Kings Head public house. Whenever Arthur was called fur duty either Mr. Cox or one of his brothers would ensure that Nellie had company. When walking a very young Alan Jones in his pram, she recalls memories of seeing the German bomber planes flying over Finmere, and launching their incendiary bombs for their target, Coventry .When out on such walks, not only did she have to wear a gas mask but baby Alan did. Apparently it was not comfortable for hint to wear, as the complete body was encapsulated necessitating Nellie pumping oxygen into Alan’s mask. When the mask was removed from a baby their faces were blue.
Her Husband Arthur was employed on Mr Tredwell’s farm that sent one hundred fowls a day to London from Finmere station. When war broke out Arthur was called up along with other men in the village, which included George Davis, Belt Horwood and Bill Death. Consequently, Nellie either bad to Surrender her fanning accommodation or take 5 young women of the Land Army into her home. Bringing up a young family Nellie had little choice but to move out and into another property having lived in so many properties in the village. If Monopoly was based on Finmere I think Nellie would have collected rent from most properties, she has lived in so many. The young women of the land Army were employed to manage a large piggery, which supplied other areas of the country with their rations. Although the village was frequently attacked by German bombers, she does not recall any serious damage being caused. Nellie’s auntie was hospitalised in Buckingham, where she would walk to visit her, passing through Tingewick which at the time had, among other things, two bake houses two butchers and five public houses. The Jones family moved to their present accommodation in the early 1940’s, before the back door had boon fitted, when the weekly rent was 16/5d (82p). One of Nellie’s final employers before war ended was at Squadron Leader Hull’s house, which still stands today at the bottom of Captains Lane. There she cleaned the silverware, and when the Squadron Leaders wife asked how much she owed her Nellie replied, “£1 please,” to which the reply came, ”don’t be so silly.” Away went the lady of the house to fetch her purse and to Nellie’s surprise she was given £10.
Interview and text by Ian Hudson for the 50th Anniversary of V.E. Day