Mark Frost: This account recently appeared in Woolverstone Notes and Queries FB site hosted by ex teacher Simon Pearce. Nazis in the Nissen huts!!!! Shagging in the grounds!!!! That place has seen a lot.

John Harper writes: "I contacted my Brother, Reg, who now lives in Australia and told him that I had recently visited Woolverstone, and he has sent me some memories."

Reg. Harper: "I was born in Bettwys y Coed in 1935 on a smallholding up a mountain track, when war broke out in 1939 we were living in what must have been the safest place in the whole of Europe For some reason Dad decided to take up the offer of a job in East Anglia, this being one of the places most likely to be invaded. As the Yanks might say: ”Go figure!”. To a 5-year-old who spoke mainly Welsh it was a great adventure.

Woolverstone was paradise for a boy to grow up in. We had the excitement of the air raids: every night the Germans passed overhead to bomb London and on the way back they dumped any leftover bombs on us. We went out next day to collect shrapnel and used cannon shells.

Suffolk was rabbit central and it was our duty to go out and catch as many as possible to help the local food ration. Our group of lads all kept ferrets and each one knew its keeper.If you touched someone else’s it would sink its fangs in you. At harvest time we would follow the binder around and hit the bunnies as they ran out of the corn and we usually got half a dozen or so each.

The people of Woolverstone were like one big family. When we arrived from Wales they made us very welcome. Every family grew vegetables and raised chooks. Dad had some pigs, chooks and turkeys. Everyone shared what they had. I still remember many of the names of those in the village: the Crookes, Crows, Bill Garnham the blacksmith, Grumpy old Admiral Lines, the Page family at the post office, Mr & Mrs. Rush whose son Ted was in the Parachute Regiment (my hero), the Scotts whose Dad came back from Changi like a walking skeleton. The Demants, Mrs Rice the very beloved school teacher, the Stoggles, Cromwells, Mr & Mrs Hunt who came from Ireland, Canon Todd the vicar, Mr Mann the policeman, the Stennets who were one of the farmers, the Howards, the Double family, the Mayhews, the Says and the Roberts.

As I mentioned before, we were welcomed by the locals and I was introduced to fellow 5-year-old Conway Jennings who lived with his aunt and uncle Mr & Mrs Jennings the blacksmith. Some other mates I remember were Stanley Crookes, Jim Page, Jack and Geoff Hunt, Cedric Stoggles, Oliver Cromwell, Graham Shave, Joe Weyman, Gordon Roberts and many others.

All us boys had to help with the war effort. Each morning before school I had to help in the Dairy. This was down a lane to the left of the gates. A couple of the other lads and I were given the job of wiping the cows' teats before they were attached to the pumps. This was followed by shovelling up some very rich manure afterwards. We boys ran free in nature's wonderland, catching rabbits, fishing in the Orwell and generally making ourselves useful around the Estate yard.

We were fishing one time at Shotley near the jetties where the troop ships were coming in from France: most of them landed at Harwich just across the river. As we were watching, a group of Women's Voluntary Service (WVS) ladies arrived by bus. They were there to welcome home our gallant heroes. As these soldiers came down the gangplank the ladies showered them with flowers and cakes and biscuits made from their precious sugar ration. We boys were amazed; the soldiers were German prisoners of war! The ladies were obviously unaware of it. The remnants of Hitler's Heroes must have been stunned as they fully believed that on arrival in England they would be shot. It was no wonder that after the war so many took up the offer to stay in Britain.

There were some Nissan huts to the right of Woolverstone Hall where a small consignment of POWs were billeted. These men were very young, some as young as 16. These were staunch Nazis. One day we were collecting some chestnuts and mushrooms and wandered over to look them over. They were behind a high wire fence and guarded by a couple of uninterested Royal Marines. The POWs asked us for some of the nuts and in return gave us a ship in a bottle. I don’t remember how we managed to understand each other but we learned some choice German swear word which I remember to this day. They also got us singing Nazi songs to which we used some very rude words.

During the war, Dad was tasked to close the gates by the Lodge each evening and open them next day. Woolverstone Hall was occupied by the Royal Navy and most of the staff members were WRNS. Dad had a rather lucrative sideline letting groups of US Air Force through the gates during night hours. I think the price of admission was a bottle of Scotch or a load of Lucky Strike fags. In the morning there were lots of condoms in the park, when we asked what they were we were told that they were balloons full of poison courtesy of old Adolf. Needless to say we gave them a wide berth. Dad traded the scotch and fags with the villagers for many useful things.