- 18th September - 8:00pm : ‘The Abel Label’ - By Katie Ellis.
- 16th October - 8:00pm : ‘Fire Safety in Your Home’ - By Melanie Quinn.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Duck making morning at Janice’s

The duck badges are for the Hook a Duck stall in readiness for our stand at this year’s Hollingbourne summer fete.
 Pictured above (Left to right) are Val Williams, Jane Deaves & Mary Henderson
 Dotting the "eyes"
And just the beaks to colour in to finish them off!

Monday, 8 May 2017

New Zealand Troops Visit to North Downs Villages in 1940

Venue: All Saints’ Church Hollingbourne (May 10th 2017)

This is a summary of a presentation given by Jean Talboys and Val Williams of Hollingbourne WI.

We welcomed North Downs WI’s and many other friends to share memories of The New Zealand Expeditionary Force visit to the North Downs in autumn 1940.

The New Zealand flag which hangs over the tower door of the church was presented by a New Zealand Officer, Haddon Donald, in 1943.

After the evacuation from Dunkirk, 700 New Zealand Troops from the 22nd Battalion were stationed in slit trenches in Warren Wood from 5th - 11th September when heavy rain forced them to move to barns, fields and billets in Hollingbourne.

Warren Wood is bordered by Hospital Road, Greenway Court Road and A20 and is now crossed by the high-speed railway to Ashford. 

 The shield of the New Zealand 22nd (Wellington) Battalion

HQ Company was settled around the Church and Upper Street.  The CO stayed at the Vicarage (now the Old Vicarage), with the Vicar, Rev Newman, who were both keen rugby players. The Troops attended the church service each Sunday. The Six Bells was the officers mess.

The Officers were billeted in Grove House, Hollingbourne Manor, Penn Court, and Mr Watson’s Farm which has now been replaced by the Church Green development.

The men camped in the fields around the Church, Monks Pool and Snagbrook.

They used the Kings Head (now The Dirty Habit) as their ‘watering hole’. 

‘A Company’ first went to Greenway Court where they were provided with fruit, eggs, crockery etc by Miss Gray, a First Aid instructor for Maidstone and Major Forbes who commanded the Home Guard. 

‘B Company’ 200 men were first housed in Greenway Court barn but were later moved to empty buildings in Broad Street.  After most of the troops had moved, a bomb fell on the barn killing Private Ian Holmes who was first buried in Hollingbourne Churchyard and after the War was moved to the Commonwealth War Graves area in Maidstone Cemetery.

‘C Company’ were camped first around Broad Street and soon Mr Steed arranged for them to move into the empty houses, including Brushings Cottage, that residents had evacuated due to frequent bombing and anti-aircraft fire targeting nearby Detling Airfield. Mr Steed also organised hockey matches.  They used the Hook and Hatchet as a ‘watering hole’.  Mrs Chapman brought her van with tea, tobacco and chocolate. Buses were hired to take the men to Maidstone swimming pool, Canterbury, Gravesend, Rochester, Tunbridge Wells and Tilbury.

‘D Company’ officers were billeted in many of the houses and the school house in Eyhorne Street. The men camped in the school fields, Snagbrook and Eyhorne Farm including Athelstan Green. Grove Meadow was used for football and hockey, cricket matches were organised on the Cricket Field.  The Windmill and Sugar Loaves were their watering holes. The Thomas Family of Eyhorne House and General Vernon of Eyhorne Cottage provided hospitality for the officers and organised tea dances. Haddon Donald was billeted in Eyhorne Cottage.

Each schoolboy befriended a New Zealand soldier. Gordon Cook’s soldier left him a bike!

Photographs from 1940 of the troops in the village.

Leeds Castle was used as a Red Cross hospital some of the nurses were Hollingbourne residents. Lady Bailey invited the troops to Leeds Castle for hot baths.

The New Zealand Troops left Hollingbourne 5th November 1940.  Residents lined Eyhorne Street to bid the troops farewell and the Vicar suggested that Eyhorne Street should be re-named Taranaki Street.

Personal Reminiscences from local residents in 1940

Early in 1940 Eileen Jenkins (nee Hutchinson) and her mother and sister moved from Folkestone to Leeds to live with her grandfather.  During hop picking the girls met members of the 21st Battalion including Len Harkins (Curley) and his brother.  Both brothers were later sent to the middle East and Curley was taken prisoner.  After the War, Curley returned to Leeds and married Eileen in Leeds Church.  After the birth of their daughter, Linda, Eileen joined her husband in New Zealand, sadly Eileen was not approved of by her New Zealand Mother-in-Law and after two years returned with Linda to England and subsequently married Sid Jenkins of Hollingbourne.  Curley returned to England on several occasions to see his daughter and built up a very happy relationship with Eileen and Sid.

Eileen’s NZ Sister-in-Law sent her a beautiful model boat about 10 inches tall with iridescent sails made from Paua shell, a marine snail indigenous to the coast of New Zealand.

Other New Zealand Troops were stationed at Leeds, Kingswood, Pluckley and Maidstone.

The NZ troops with a Bren Gun carrier in Leeds.

Audrey Browne of Forge Cottage in Leeds where her Grandfather was blacksmith and farrier.  She was 8 years old in 1940 when New Zealand Troops were billeted in the cottage and used the oast at the bottom of the garden as a cookhouse.  Children had gathered around the cookhouse for goodies and listening to one of the troops playing his ukulele, when a damaged Spitfire was heard descending on the village.  The troops rapidly gathered the children away from the flight path and Audrey was given the Ukulele to carry.  She was later given the instrument to keep and she still treasures it.  The plane fell on Burgess Hall which was later demolished to build the houses in Burgess Hall Drive.

Rosemary Clarke of Spout Farm Caring Lane continues to run her family farm. One day during the autumn of 1940 her mother found that all the eggs had been hard boiled!  There were NZ troops camping in their orchard!

Gordon Cannon was aged 12 in 1940 and lived with his uncle and aunt in Woodcut Farm.  Gordon looked after the chickens, feeding them before school and shutting them up at night.  Numbers dwindled and a fox was suspected. One night, Uncle found the remains of a fire in a nearby wood with the bones of 30 or 40 chickens.  He went to the HQ and a Maori officer came to the wood and agreed it was his men and wrote a cheque immediately.
Walter Parks who worked on the Farm told Gordon about fighting between the troops who all carried large knives. On one occasion fighting resulted in one Maori being killed.

The Hollingbourne WI has been linked with Wokatani WI in New Zealand since 1935.  They gave the Institute a table cloth that is used for all meetings and a recipe for a fruit cake that are being used today.

The WI minute book records that on October 14th 1940, Captain Hurst, New Zealand Padre, gave a most delightful description of New Zealand, it’s people and habits.

Many people have helped collect these memories of 1940 including Janice Butler, WI President and David Lyne of Kingswood. Ian Talboys prepared the illustrations.

The WI is grateful to the Church Wardens for allowing us to use the Church for this happy occasion.

Colour photos were taken in 2010 & 2017, black and white photos are original images from 1940.