Miss Bass now Mrs Cynthia Williams
Teacher at Benfleet Junior School from 1943 – 1964
Miss Bass came straight from College to Benfleet Junior School in 1943 when the shortages of war were starting to be felt. Paper was in short supply and children’s painting would be done on old newspapers with powder paint. Pencils had to be about an inch long before you could get a new one.
Miss Bass’s classes had about 40 children and were housed in the old library across the High Road, the present site of the new library. The air raid shelter for the school was by the new building at the bottom of the playground by the brook.
“When the air raid warning sounded I had to get my class out of the hut across the road to the playground. The County Council wanted to know how long it took to get the last child into the shelter. It was a ridiculously long time. On one occasion we were crossing the road when the plane went over. The Council wanted to reduce the time taken, but it never happened. I don’t know how much protection the air raid shelter would have given the children as you could pull bricks out of the wall.”
At this time there was an ack-ack battery near Cemetery Corner.
Mrs Williams recalls wartime as an exciting time, because there was always something happening. HMS Westcliff was a shore base in Southend, this restricted access to the sea front. All the roads were lined with lorries and tanks in the run up to D Day. Southend was a restricted area and Special Constables would inspect your identification at the Southend Boundary by the Salvation Army Colony and of course we had to carry gas masks.