World War One
The 1911 census gives the population of Netley Marsh as 1,409. The Netley Marsh Parish boundary (1894-1942), included Calmore, Testwood, Hammonds Green, and Testbourne and Ringwood Road all the way down to crossroads at Calmore Corner/Testbourne. This is why we find men from those areas on the memorial. The majority of men in 1911 were employed in agriculture, in service as grooms and gardeners or in a trade such as blacksmiths, sawyers or builders. At that time, married women did not work. They supplemented the household income by taking in boarders, washing or sewing. Children attended school between the ages of 5-12 (14 became mandatory in 1918).
Voluntary enlistment began in 1914 for men aged 18-41. Conscription began in 1916 and in April 1918 the upper age limit was extended to 51. For many young men this was seen as an exciting adventure. At that time, it was not common to travel far from home, and here they were, presented with an opportunity to travel overseas with meals and pay! Read More
With the men away, additional church services were held on Wednesdays and Fridays to pray for their safe return. During the services, knitting for the war effort was encouraged. The Honorable Lady Palk set up a working party at Calmore Village Hall with people attending daily between 2-7pm to knit garments for soldiers and hospital patients.
Food was in short supply and prices were high due to poor harvests and supply ships being sunk. The average food bill for a family of four rose from less than £1 per week in 1914 to over £2 by 1918. Voluntary rationing had begun in 1917 but within the year, sugar, meat, butter, cheese and margarine were put on ration until 1920. Women helped the war effort by growing extra vegetables, and younger women joined the Women's Land Army.
Children helped the war effort by collecting Conkers, Acorns, Charcoal, Heather and Sphagnum Moss. These were used in the production of gunpowder, in gas masks and as medical dressings. In 1917, a hundredweight of conkers (50kg) was worth seven shillings and six pence. At school allotments were set up and the children helped grow potatoes, carrots, beet and cabbage which they donated to Kelston Hospital at Regents Park in Southampton.
The Hampshire Advertiser records that at the Easter Service 1919, all those who had served were welcomed to the church for a service of thanksgiving, with the front seats reserved for veterans. A Celebration of the Great Peace was held in August 1919. It is likely this celebration had been delayed by the Spanish Flu.
The War Memorial The war memorial records the names of 30 men from the Parish who died during WW1
The 32 Fallen Heroes of Netley Marsh
12 have no known graves.
These names have been researched. If you would like to know more or have information to share, please contact us
A tablet inside the church names two more - George and Thomas Butler-Stoney.
Lt. Col. George Butler Stoney, D.S.O.
killed in action in Gallipoli,
15th Oct. 1915, aged 38.
2nd Lieut. Thomas Ramsay Stoney,
killed in action near Kemmel, Flanders,
10th April 1918, aged 35.
Buried at La Clytte British Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Grave of Robert Broomfield (also on the memorial) can be found in the churchyard (Section C, row G Plot 8 alongside the back hedge).
In everlasting memory of Gunner Robert E Broomfield RGA the beloved husband of Beatrice M Broomfield d 17th April 1918 aged 30.
Establishing the Memorial
At the unveiling ceremony on the 1st November 1919, Colonel Hon. E A Palk, the Chairman of the War Memorial Committee, referred to the memorial as a 'non-sectarian, village institution'.
The War Memorial Committee* first met at the school in April 1919 and discussed a number of options before approving the construction of a granite obelisk in the centre of the village. Members of the committee went door to door asking for names that should be inscribed and for donations. The whole process, including raising the required £150, only took seven months.
*Members of the Committee included: Colonel the Honorable E.A. Palk (Chairman) the Rev. Oakes, Messers Dovey, Lean, C Copper, Wilkins, Benfield, Othen, Broomfield and W Cooper (secretary).
The Great Peace Celebration - Tuesday 5th August 1919
George and Thomas Butler-Stoney.
Transcription from the Hampshire Advertiser 9th August 1919
Tuesday was a great day in the minds of all Netley Marsh folk, for it was then that they celebrated the Great Peace which many of their sons had so gallantly fought for. Everyone from ‘the oldest inhabitant’ down to the tiniest ‘toddler’ donned his or her best apparel and bailed to Loperwood Park, Calmore, where the rejoicings were to take place.
A thoughtful and conscientious committee had drawn up a comprehensive programme, comprising sports of every description, entertainment, competitions, dancing and with a grand firework display as a finale, and this was expeditiously and successful gone through. The park provided a delightful and natural setting to the celebrations and thanks are due to the kindness of Mr R.C.S. Pearce for lending it to the occasion. In one corner were coconut shies, roundabouts, swings, houp-la etc. The stalls bearing all manner of refreshment. Children were the chief patrons of these, and the raucous shouts of the showmen, mingled with the indescribable discord proceeding from the whirligigs and the ‘squeakers’ lustily blown by the youngsters, gave the corner of the park a resemblance to a fair on ‘Appy Ampstead.Read More
In another corner, in the shade through by a leady oak was the Totton Brass Band. Its melody undrowned by the din going on elsewhere and which later in the evening provided the music for the dancing on the green. The park was only open to parishioners in the afternoon, but after 6.30pm it was throw open to the public and the jollifications continued until 11. O’clock.
Various sports for children and adults occupied a large portion of the time, the successful competitors being awarded money prizes which were presented to them by R.C.S. Pearce. The same gentleman also handed Peace medals to the children.
“Ernesto” a well-known local entertainer created an atmosphere of mystery with his performance of magic and amused the kiddies with ventriloquial and juggling entertainment. Welcome gifts of fruit – oranges and bananas – were made to the youngsters who truly must have spent one of the happiest days of their lives, so much having been done for their pleasure. Ex-service men too, were not forgotten and it was noticeable that the money prizes awarded them in their sports were double those of the others, which was but a slight form of expressing our gratitude to those men. It was in the evening that Mr A. C. Hallett in a few well-chosen words cordially welcomed home the soldiers and sailors on their safe return from the war.
The committee which was responsible for the arrangements, and who worked extremely hard for the success of the affair, composed Mr G Avery (chairman), Mr G T Othern (treasurer) Mrs Cherman (secretary) Misses Corner, Fay, Hopkins, Othen, Welch and Messrs Babey, Benfield, H Broad, Broomfield, C Cooper, W Cooper, G Dovey, Front, Hendry, Lowman, Muton, Smith, Welch and Weaver.
Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, villagers and the children from the Netley Marsh Scout and Guide group attend a Remembrance service in the church and wreath laying at the memorial.
In 2014, the Beaver group made a poppy for each of the WW1 fallen and presented the display to the church to commemorate the centenary of WW1.
World War Two
The 1931 census recorded the population of Netley Marsh as 2,200 - nearly double that of the First World War period. However, in 1942 the parish boundary was changed and no longer included Calmore or Hammonds Green, only extending as far east along Ringwood Road as Fletchwood Lane. There is no population count available for the new area, but it would have been significantly less and probably explains why (thankfully) there are less names on the WW2 section of the memorial.
During WW2, local women were involved in factory/mills work for the war effort, forestry and working on the land. Men who remained at home (due to health, age or reserved occupation) would serve with the home guard. Read More
Netley Marsh was considered far enough away from Southampton to be a safe place to send evacuees from Southampton, Portsmouth and London. Local children attended the school in the morning and evacuees in the afternoon. Children always carried a gas mask and practiced air raid drills in the 2 shelters on the school field.
At night, people would watch the bombing and fires raging in Southampton. Local people recall seeing soldiers camped in the area, American troops drinking in the Gamekeeper, and Prisoners of War digging the drainage ditches in Woodlands Road.
An Anti-Aircraft Search Light Battery operated on the site of Northlands Farm* The site that is now ‘Spot in the Woods’ on Woodlands Road was a nursing hospital, Springhill House, during WW2 and many local people were born there.
* Netley Marsh Searchlight Site
The Bombing Raid on Netley Marsh
On the 26th October 1942, Netley Marsh was not such a safe place to be: The bombing raid on Netley Marsh at around mid-day on Monday 26 October 1942 is still remembered in the village, and the destruction it caused to the east window of St Matthew's Church is commemorated with a small plaque inside the church.
Ron Thomas, who was at Netley Marsh school during the raid was recorded on video by the Netley Marsh Local History Group on 17 July 2017
Recollections of Jane Humby (later Mrs. Godwin) of Monday 26 October 1942
The following article begins with the written records and recorded recollections from villagers and is followed by conclusions with opinions as to why we think the village was bombed and a summary of the order of events and their locations.
Jane was born in 1934 and would have been just over a week away from her eighth birthday (29 October). At the time she attended Miss Gray’s Private School in Totton.
“It was during the week, I was home from school and I was in my mum’s front room (at the Yews, a house that used to be on the opposite side of the road from the Royal Oak pub, now the Gamekeeper). The air raid siren had already gone off to say there was a raid and I heard a noise. I looked out of the window just as a German airplane was flying by, really low, near to the ground. I could actually see the pilot in the airplane, and it went straight down the road, like a car going by but much bigger. Read More
The next thing we knew was our neighbour, Mrs. Brown, coming in. “Mrs. Humby, they’ve hit the school!’ she said. She must have jumped up when she heard the noise and looked out from her doorstep. In those days there were not so many houses, and she looked across and could see the bombs come out of the plane. Luckily, the school was not hit directly, but a bomb had fallen on a cottage on the way to Netley Marsh and unfortunately three people had been killed.
All the house around the bombed areas had to be evacuated and streams of people - lots of children, mothers with babies in prams loaded with stuff they had collected in a hurry - were all walking up to the top of Woodlands, like refugees you see on television today. Everyone took someone in, there was no one left down in Netley Marsh.”
Excerpts from Netley Marsh School Log - The War Years
(Published in ‘100 Years of Parish Life - Reminiscences of the New Forest Village of Netley Marsh 1884 - 1994’).
September 18 1939
School opened today, fourteen days later than had been arranged. This was due to the fact that a state of emergency had arisen, war with Germany having been declared on Sept 3rd. Evacuated children from Portsmouth (Northern Parade School) have been billeted in Netley Marsh and District. These children are to attend afternoon sessions 1.0 pm to 4.30 pm while the normal school is to attend for morning sessions 8.45 to 12.15.
Four Air Raid Shelters have been erected at the back of the Church Hall and a form of Air Raid Drill has been worked out and will be practiced regularly. All children are to bring their respirators to school and these will hang beneath the desks during school hours. Read More
October 26 1942
At 12.30 today whilst the children were having lunch in the school classrooms, under the supervision of the head master, the approach of low flying aircraft was heard, followed almost at once by the exploding of a bomb in Woodlands Road. The children in the Infants’ Room immediately entered the Headmaster’s room and were directed by him to the shelters according to a previously arranged plan. The children in the main classrooms followed under the headmaster’s direction, and by this time the blast from further bombs had blown in and dislodged tiles from the roof.
The children were in the shelters before the blast from the bomb caused serious damage to the roof and windows. The headmaster returned to the damaged buildings to make a quick survey of the building to see that no children were left behind and then the roll call was made of all present in the shelters. By vacating the premises in so prompt a manner, not a child suffered the slightest injury and after a short while the children were calmed and even singing.
Upon the sounding of the ‘All Clear’ and consultation with the local police, the children left in parties under the leadership of the members of staff who had returned to the school, and those living at a distance were conveyed home by the headmaster with voluntary assistance from friends.
A quotation from the ‘100 Years of Parish Life’ hints at perhaps why the enemy fighter plane was in the area:
It mentions that the ‘The pilot was aiming for the radio mast at Bartley’. The notorious ‘Lord Haw Haw’, who used to interrupt BBC radio transmissions to spread fear and Nazi propaganda, mentioned in one of broadcasts that the Bartley Mast was a target the Luftwaffe were coming over to bomb.
If the mission was to destroy the mast at Bartley, the plane was very close to its target. The mast used to stand in a field on the Netley Marsh side of the junction of Bourne Road, Bartley, and the A336 Ringwood Road (the south eastern side of the junction). It was one mile from St Matthews Church and only three quarters of a mile from ‘The Royal Oak’ pub where Jane Humby observed it.
The mast was a familiar landmark for many years and was in use by the BBC until the introduction of ‘Radio 4 UK’ on Long Wave in November 1978, after which it was removed. It’s likely the enemy pilot in the raid on Netley Marsh, being unable to find the mast, needed to dispose of his heavy cargo of bombs in a hurry and looked for other targets so he could lighten his load and have enough fuel to make it back to occupied France. Read more about the radio mast here
Bomb 1 – Ridge Farm
From the recollections, the low flying plane travelled from the top of Woodlands, following the road past ‘The Royal Oak’ (Gamekeeper) pub and continued towards Netley Marsh village. There were four bombs in the raid. The first one hit Mr Fred Humby’s farmyard (Ridge Farm) near a dung heap, which covered the white house opposite in patches of dung (according to Ron Thomas in the video) and possibly hitting the grain store.
Bomb 2 and 3 – The Nook
The next bomb destroyed the bungalow called ‘The Nook’ and killed the three members of the Waterman family.
Kevin Brice supplied the following information about his Great Grandparents.
“My Great Grandfather, William Shutler Waterman, my Great Grandmother, Ethel Isobel Waterman and one of their daughters, Phylis Waterman, had just sat down to eat their mid-day meal when the bomb hit and injured them. They all died later the same day at Fenwick Cottage Hospital. They were brought back to Highfield Church for their funerals where their son, my Grandfather, was Verger.
William Shutler Waterman worked all of his life in the Ordnance Survey offices in Southampton and, on his retirement, was Chief Examiner of Drawings. His obituary in the Parish Newsletter records that he had moved his family to the New Forest when he retired. I tis sadly ironic that what should have been a place of relative safety in comparison with Southampton turned out SO tragically to be ‘the wrong place at the wrong time’.”
There is a bungalow in Woodlands Road still called ‘The Nook’, at the location Mrs Jane Godwin (nee Humby) described, which she mentioned is “set back further than the other houses”, possibly when it was rebuilt. It is number 372 Woodlands Road.
The explosion also brought down electricity wires, and children recalled seeing a Jack Russell in a ditch near Penn’s shop, with electricity wires across. Penn’s shop was about a ten second walk from ‘The Nook’ and was just after the entrance to Willswood Farm, before the corner near the recreation ground. The shop was there throughout the war and existed until the late 1960s.
One bomb failed to explode. Ron Thomas recalls passing it as he walked home from school. It fell in a field on the opposite side of the road between the ‘The Nook’ and Penn’s shop. The army quickly arrived and dealt with it.
Bomb 4 – The Church, School and Bradbeers Shop
The final bomb travelled diagonally and struck the large horse chestnut tree, which used to stand behind the war memorial in the church car park, and broke off a large bough. The ‘conker tree’ was a favourite of many Netley Marsh schoolchildren over the years until it was felled in the 1980’s. The bomb landed near the east end of St Matthew's Church and the adjacent Vicarage, where it exploded. The force of the explosion blew out the larger windows of Bradbeers shop on the opposite side of the road next to the White Horse pub.
Ron Thomas remembered Cotton reels and other shop stock strewn across the road. The blast blew the roof tiles off the school and broke all the windows in the school. Funds were raised for a replacement east window. Installed in 1954 by Goddear and Gobbs, It shows, in three panels the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. Near to the altar is a small wooden plaque that reads:
“The east window was erected 1954 to replace the one destroyed by enemy action 26th October 1942”
The Fallen Heroes of Netley Marsh
These names have been researched. If you would like to know more or have information to share, please contact us
The war memorial records the names of 7 men from the Parish who died during WW2.
The Commonwealth War Graves of John Clift and Richard Lee (both on the memorial) and John Blake can be found in the churchyard.
J. C. Clift Petty Officer RN (Left)
PJ45270, HMS Marshall Soult,
Section C, Row H, Plot 3
16th January 1943 aged 44.
Major Richard Thomas Lee, Grenadier Guards, (Right)
Section C, Row E plot 7
born 3rd May 1906,
killed by enemy action March 1941.
John S.C.Blake Gunner Royal Artillery.
Section F, Row A, Plot 4
Son of C and M Blake, Calmore.
Killed in Action 10th January 1945 aged 21.
Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, villagers and the children from the Netley Marsh Scout and Guide group attend a Remembrance service in the church, which includes the reading of the names, and wreath laying at the memorial.
Unfortunately, all planned commemorations for VE 75 were abandoned due to COVID-19.
However, people still celebrated and commemorated by holding their own stay at home parties, with cream teas on their driveways and bunting - much of which was in true make and mend tradition as the shops were closed!