All Saints, Fawley - Community & Heritage

Sheila Stacey (Nee Smith)

My grandfather’s name was Fred Smith, and he was born in 1875.  In 1907 Fred married Florence Farman, whose grandfather was a well known Norfolk reed thatcher, which Florence’s brother Billy continued and had the honour of thatching the Queen’s doll’s house.

My grandparents lived in a cottage in Hampton Lane, Blackfield and then moved to Merriemead, on the corner of the Drove, which they built around 1912.

Merriemead - the house on the left of the photo. The car is coming out of the Drove. Click for larger image.

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It was from here that they opened  the Blackfield Post Office in the front room of their home.  Fred became the local Postman and Florence was the Postmistress.  Fred was the practical one but Florence was very much the ‘brains’ and business woman. 

Fred was a keen photographer and signed his photographs with ‘FS’, like in this picture of Fawley village.

Fred Smith's early photograph of Fawleylooking towards Ashlett Rd

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Fred was also a member of the Fawley Band. He is in the back row, the last on the right.

Fred in the Fawley Band

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Fred’s instrument was a Type A50 Bb Baritone, manufacture by Boosey & Hawkes , in their Euston Road factory, on 26th 1916, built by a Mr Bill Abbott, a craftsman of some note.  This information was supplied by Boosey & Hawkes following a letter Sheila sent them in 1982, asking about the insturment her grandfather had played.

Fred was also a keen cricketer and played on Fawley cricket club.

Fred in his cricket clothes

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Fred and Florence had three children, Fred, Maud and Peggy. Maud Smith is seen here outside the Blackfield Post Office (Merriemead) aruond 1928.

Maud Smith outside Merrimead

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Maud’s Empire Day Certificate can be seen below:

Maud Smith's Empire Day certificate

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Maud was married to Charles Roff in Fawley Church on 5th August 1937.  The picture shows Fred walking his daughter into the church,  with the row of terraced cottages behind, called Prospect Place, demolished by Esso.  
Fred walking his daughter into the church. The row of terraced cottages behindis Prospect Place, demolished by Esso.

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Florence remained Postmistress until she retired in 1946; she had been postmistress for 34 years.  The post office then moved into the village, just south of the crossroads.  There was Henderson’s the grocers on the crossroads, then Withers and then the post office.  Fred and Florence converted the room used for a post office back into a home and stayed at Merriemead until Florence died in 1953.

Fred and Maud Smith

Sometime before Fred had bought quite a bit of land on Long Copse, which was then undeveloped, and he had given his son Fred and his daughter-in-law, Dolcie, some land to build a house on.  Fred came to live with Fred junior and Dolcie until he died in 1955.  He is buried with other members of the family in Fawley Churchyard.
Sheila was one of three children of Fred and Dolcie Smith, and was brought up in Long Copse.

Sheila’s penfriend standing outside the front door of the house at Long Copse

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This picture of the house shows Sheila’s penfriend standing outside the front door.  They are still friends now and both visit each other in their respective countries.

Fred Smith also sold some land for a house to Mr Gordon Burnett and he built a house next to the Smiths in 1939. The photograph below is another old photo of Long Copse, the first house belonging to Geoffrey Wheeler’s mother, then came the Smiths and then the Burnetts.

Another view of Long Copse - house belonging to Geoffrey Wheeler’s mother, then beyond it the Smiths and then the Burnetts
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As a child I lived in Long Copse which is the road from Holbury down to Rollestone crossroads and during the build-up to D-Day in June 1944 we had the American army camped alongside the road with their tanks, jeeps and lorries waiting to go across to France.  I was only 4 at the time but can vividly remember it.

The soldiers were very generous to us giving the families sweets, chewing gum, cigarettes, even cans of petrol and in return they were welcomed into our home.

One of the soldiers was particularly kind and he said to my parents that he would ask his Mom to send me a parcel of goodies.  However, we woke up one morning to find them all gone and probably my parents didn’t expect to hear from him again.

But just before Christmas a postcard arrived from France and this was followed by an amazing parcel from America.  I remember my mother opening it and we were all overwhelmed by the generosity of his Mom – I had never seen so many sweets, lollipops, and chewing gum and there were also Nylon stockings for my mother (the ones with the seams down the back), and two dolls for me.  I still have one of the dolls somewhere in the attic and I named her Joan, after his sister.  Bear in mind that this soldier was a very young man who, under the enormous stress of the war, took time to write to us.  
Postcard sent to Smith family by American soldier Written side of postcard - see main text for transcript.

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The message reads:
U.S. 3rd Army – France-
My dear Freckle nose, “Sheila” and
Mr and Mrs Smith –
Remember me?  - I’ll bet you don’t but I was parked in front of your house before coming here to France and I played with Sheila most of that day.  How is the little angel? – I do hope she is fine & in the best of health  [also mom Pop Smith crossed out]
I am fine and in the best of health and getting along fine – The weather here is getting much colder and right now it is snowing quite hard – I am working hard and don’t have much time for myself so you’ll just have to excuse my not writing sooner – Thanks! –
My Mom told me that she sent “
Frecklenose” a little package and I do hope she may receive it before Christmas so she’ll know and believe that there is a Santa Claus – I am sure that Mom picked out something nice to send Sheila cause she knows what little girls like – Mom tells me that she writes to you also and I’m so happy to hear that for I want you to be good friends –
Well – the object of this card is to wish you all a very Merry Xmas “and a Happy New Year” – may the next one find us much more Happy and our Countries at peace -  Please write if you have time for I would like to know how Sheila and you are getting along – God Bless You – Love – Norman
P.S.  You said you would remember me by my first name being the same as your Brothers or something like that – Bye now –

The area around our home played a huge part in the build-up to D-Day.  Exbury House became HMS Mastodon, the Beaulieu River was used for the landing craft waiting to leave for France and Lepe Beach was used to build the Mulberry Harbour.  My Dad was employed to work on the Mulberry Harbour as he was a carpenter and he would cycle each day to Lepe to work.  Some days Mum would cycle to meet him with me sat in a seat on the back of her bike, but we were only allowed to go so far because of the tight security surrounding the operation.

My father was for part of the war in Chalfont St. Giles and these are some of the postcards he sent me from there:

Postcard - 2 girls on bench with sailor boy. Sailor says "Trust me girls, I'm always ready to carry on"  Text on postcard reads "I do hope you haven't started this game yet or look out when I come home! Daddy."

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Postcard of a little girl rolling up sleeves and saying "Tough guy? Huh!"  Postcard text reads "I do hope you won't treat little boys like this or you won't be a good girl!"

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After the war, I attended Fawley School from 1945-1951, then I went to Brockenhurst Grammar School.  In 1954 (aged 14) we were asked to write our ‘Earliest Memories’, this is what I wrote:

‘One of my earliest memories is the Second World War.  

I can remember time when the siren would sound and Mummy would rush me out to the shelter which Daddy had built under the ground.  We would then stay down there until the ‘All Clear’ sounded.  Sometimes we would have tanks and lorries parked down the road.  At one time the men in the lorries and tanks were black men.  These had a banjo which they would play to pass the time.  I remember one day I was standing by the gate with three other children watching the trucks pass by, when suddenly one of the tanks went to stop by the gate but somehow got too near the telegraph pole which is by the gate.  There was a loud tearing noise and we found that a large piece of iron had been torn off the tank and was now stuck in the telegraph pole.  This piece of iron remained in the telegraph pole until last year when a new one was put in.  Often at night I would hear planes flying overhead and at first I was scared by gradually got used to them.’