Carter Lane School
I don’t suppose there are many who remember our boys who were fortunate to return from Dunkirk in late May early June 1940 after the remarkable evacuation and the part Mansfield played. On their return to Dover they were put on trains and sent to the Midlands and the North.
Mansfield was one of the destinations for the fortunate soldiers of the BEF who had managed to return to these shores. Carter Lane School was one of the destinations for the said escapies. I suppose other Schools in the Town and area were also recipients of the Troops.I do not know which Railway Station they arrived at but I would guess it was the Midland Station as opposed to the Great Central but it may have been both.
Preparing the school
Carter Lane School at that time was closed and we had an extended Holiday. I at the time lived opposite the school and in the process of making it a temporary reception centre / barracks the desks/chairs and other items were removed and the residents of Carter Lane, Asquith Street, and Gordon Avenue were expected and encouraged to provide storage facilities and the school became empty. I vividly recall our front room being filled with desks and chairs virtually roof high.
The soldiers then started arriving – marching up Rock Hill and as children we would go and meet them and welcome them and march alongside them. The boys were obviously dishevelled but over the moon and were throwing Belgian and French Coins to us . I imagine they managed to get cleaned up courtesy of the bathing facilities at Mansfield Baths and the Crown Farm Pit and provided with fresh uniforms before returning to their Regimental Base.They seemed to remain in the area for several weeks.
In the meantime the local populace were invited and encouraged to provide in particular a Sunday lunch for them and provide an element of normality before being moved on. We entertained two soldiers from the Brighouse and Rastrick area in Yorkshire for a couple of weeks. As rationing was now in force we were given extra Rations in particular meat and sugar to provide really good meals for them. After a short time they were on the way to rejoin their Regiments
Air Raid Tower
The other event if you can call it that was the erection of a small tower at the Asquith Street end of the school to mount an Air Raid Siren and an ARP centre set up in the cellar and training of Wardens in fire drill undertaken in a shelter in the playground of the infant school as opposed to the use of the Junior School playground which only had a small bicycle shed.