During the autumn of 1940, seven young children were removed from the dangers of living in war torn London to rural Buckland just outside Broadway. The evacuation and rehoming of the children was funded by the American Red Cross and the Surdna Foundation1 who had arranged for The Waifs and Strays Society (now The Church of England Children’s Society) to run a War Nursery2 at Buckland Manor.
In July 1940, Lady Ismay of nearby Wormington Grange3, whose husband, General Hastings Ismay was Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant, had taken in 30 London evacuees under the age of two. Children under five4 were difficult to place with families and Lady Ismay was approached by the Society’s secretary, Mr W.R. Vaughan, to find another suitable home for a small number of very young children.
At the time there were three Receiving Nurseries in London in which children under five were received for medical inspection, issue of clothing, etc., before being evacuated to the country to nurseries set up to specially cater for their needs.
Mr & Mrs Charles T. Scott of Buckland Manor offered their home to the Society and by November 1940, seven youngsters had taken up residence in a wing of the house under the care of Matron Miss Bride. Mrs Jane Scott (who became the Nursery’s Commandant) was often seen taking the children for a walk and her cook, Margaret ‘Bessie’ Andrews, prepared the children’s meals. Lady Victoria Forester, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Mary, who lived at Furze Hill, Willersey, was also involved in the children’s welfare. Clothes and toys for the children were provided by the Women’s Voluntary Services both in London and Broadway, and additional children’s clothing from sewing parties held in the village.
Miss Bride told a reporter from The Evesham Journal that the children can “run just where they like” and although many arrived tearful and homesick they soon settled into life in the Cotswolds countryside. Miss Bride’s charges were all from London; Tony (the eldest), Maureen (the youngest, aged 20 months), Ernest, Eileen, David, Sailor and Ronald.
Queen Mary visits the War Nursery at Buckland Manor
By 1944, under Matron Miss Frank, the nursery at Buckland Manor had grown to be one of the largest in the area caring for 36 children5. Amongst the children, all aged under five, were children of Birmingham City transport workers as well as those with parents serving in HM Forces.
On Thursday 10th August 1944, Queen Mary paid an informal visit to Buckland Manor to see the children. The Queen was accompanied by Lady Constance Milnes Gaskell, Lady Victoria Forester and Major Forester, the local MP William Morrison and his wife Katharine Morrison, and Colonel George Mackie (County Director of the British Red Cross). The Queen stayed for half an hour and on leaving was presented with a bouquet of roses by two year old Gillian Adams from Birmingham.
The War Nursery at Buckland Manor closed down shortly after the end of the Second World War in late 1945/early 19466.
Debbie Williamson Broadway History Society
The Surdna Foundation was established as a charitable foundation in 1917 by the American John Emory Andrus to pursue a range of philanthropic purposes.
The first War Nursery was set up in February 1940 at Dallington in Northamptonshire. By the end of 1940, 30 nurseries were in existence housing over a thousand babies and young children. After the United States of America entered the war in 1942, the Ministry of Health undertook full financial responsibility for the nurseries, the total number of which grew to 400.
In November 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady of the United States ( 4 March 1933 – 12 April 1945) visited the War Nursery at Wormington Grange.
Approximately 89%, of all under fives evacuated were sent from the London area, and by August, 1945, the Metropolitan Evacuation Panel had dealt with applications for over 60,000 children many of which were applying for temporary evacuation. 9,046 young children were evacuated through the London Receiving Nurseries.
The War Nursery at Wormington Grange had also increased in size, caring for up to 60 children.
The War Nurseries were gradually closed after the end of the war. However, some 10,000 children across all ages were unable to return home for various reasons and had to be cared for until homes could be found. The War Nursery at Wormington Grange closed in February 1946.
Town Class Destroyer HMS Broadway (H90) was first launched on 14th February 1920 and was the first ex-American destroyer involved in the capture of a U-boat during in the Atlantic during the Second World War.
The ship, originally commissioned and launched by Miss Victoria Hunt as USS Hunt (DD 194), was built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Virginia in the United States. She was one of 50 US Navy destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy from the US Navy as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement of 2nd September 1940.
On 8th October 1940, USS Hunt was commissioned as HMS Broadway in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, for use by the Royal Navy. Like all the other ex-US Navy destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940, her name was common to a village/town in England and a town in the US. HMS Broadway arrived at HM Dockyard Devonport on the south coast on 29th October for a refit and modification to be used as a Royal Navy convoy escort in the Atlantic.
Following the commissioning of the destroyer, Broadway’s Parish Councillor, Gordon Russell, agreed to give a talk to the BBC on the village of Broadway. However, the Chairman of the Parish Council, Arthur Williams JP, strongly objected to the talk on the grounds that ‘the enemy is likely to vent his wrath in a particular village that has given its name to one of His Majesty’s ships’. On 2nd January 1941, Williams sent a telegram to the BBC who replied that they could not stop the programme going ahead as it had already been publicised. Williams then sent a wire to Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary to the wartime coalition, stating that the airing of the programme would give ‘unnecessary publicity, and possible menace to the village’ and he also sent a telegram to the local Evesham MP, Mr Rupert De la Bère. Following discussions between the two, it was decided that the BBC programme should go ahead as it would not adversely affect Broadway or endanger the village or its residents in any way.
HMS Broadway, Convoy Escort and the Capture of an Enigma Machine
After undergoing initial trials HMS Broadway was taken to Scapa Flow for further preparations and to join the 11th Escort Group. However, she sustained damage during the trials and was repaired in Hull, then at the Clyde and Liverpool shipyards before work was finally completed on her back at Devonport and she was finally ready to go to war as an escort of convoys in the mid-Atlantic passage. HMS Broadway returned to Liverpool from where on 28th April 1941 she joined the 7th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command, in Iceland.
On 9th May 1941, whilst under the command of Lt. Commander Thomas Taylor, RN, and whilst protecting the Atlantic convoys with the help of destroyer HMS Bulldog and corvette HMS Aubretia, she assisted in the capture of German U-boat U-110 between Greenland and Iceland.
U-110, commanded by U-boat ace Lt. Fritz-Julius Lemp1, had successfully sunk two British ships during the Battle of the Atlantic. On the 9th May the U-boat was first detected by HMS Aubretia’s listening device and the corvette subsequently moved to engage the U-boat with depth charges. U-110 survived this first assault but when the two destroyers HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway joined the attack the U-boat was forced to surface and HMS Bulldog’s captain set a course to ram the the boat. Lemp seeing this ordered his crew to abandon ship.
U-110 was captured (the first U-boat capture during the Second World War) and a boarding party was sent from HMS Bulldog under the command of Lieutenant Commander David Balme. On board, Radio Operator William Stewart Pollock noticed a unusual looking typewriter. He unscrewed it from the desk, gathered it up and later discovered he had taken a German Navy Enigma decoder machine and codebooks, the first operational Enigma machine captured during the war.
Once in the water, Lemp attempted to swim back to the U-boat when he realised that the scuttling charges were not going to detonate and that his boat might be captured and this was the last anyone saw of him.
The original plan was to tow the U-110 to Iceland. Fortuitously, the U-boat sank whilst under tow. Had the boat reached Iceland, it seems certain that German spies would have seen it and passed word back to Germany.
Although the German Navy (the Kriegsmarine) developed codes that were more complex after this capture, it gave Alan Turing and the code breakers at Bletchley Park their first insight into the Enigma code. The Bletchley Park cryptanalysts had found this code more complex and secure than that used by the Germany’s army and airforce.
Four officers and men of HMS Broadway were mentioned in dispatches and Lt. Commander Thomas Taylor received the DSC and Chief Stoker Arthur Harry Capelin P/K-46363 was awarded the DSM.
HMS Broadway continued to escort Atlantic convoys during 1942 and 1943 and on 12th May 1943, commanded by Lt. Commander Evelyn Henry Chavasse2, she joined frigate HMS Lagan and aircraft from escort carrier HMS Biter in destroying another German submarine, U-89, which was sunk northeast of the Azores.
After undergoing a refit at Belfast in September 1943, HMS Broadway became a target ship for aircraft and served as such at Rosyth in Scotland until the war ended in Europe, retiring from service during the summer of 1945. HMS Broadway was finally decommissioned and sold for scrap in May 1948.
HMS Broadway received the battle honours, Atlantic 1941-43 and North Sea 1944 for taking part in the sinking of two U-boats and the attacks on many others during which she covered nearly 100,000 miles on duty. She was known for her ‘Magic Eye’ which she had painted on her bows to ward off evil.
Support for HMS Broadway from the Broadway Branch of the British Legion
During the war HMS Broadway was one of two ships adopted by the village (the other being HMS Terrapin3). The Broadway branch of the British Legion undertook to supply HMS Broadway with comforts from the branch’s special war fund. Records, books, games, irons, writing paper, cards and envelopes and a box of football gear from Broadway United Football Club (the club had been suspended for the duration of the war) along with cheques to be spent by the ship’s commanding officer on the crew were amongst items sent. Several fundraisers were held in the village during the war: on Boxing Day 1941, Broadway United Football Club held a dance at the Lifford Memorial Hall to raise money for the crew and £284 was sent to the fund to provide further sports equipment for those on board the destroyer.
In June 1943, a badge made of pear wood was presented to the HMS Broadway by the Broadway branch of the British Legion on behalf of the village (see photo above). The shield was designed by the officers of the ship and partly by the artist, Major W.T. Hart of Chipping Campden. The badge, surrounded by the Naval Crown represents the albatross, being the badge of the US Navy, Broadway Tower and crossed anchors being common to both Navies. The badge was initially on view in J.B. Ball’s shop window on the High Street but is now on the wall in St Michael’s Church. A cast brass shield was also presented by the village to the ship for the ship’s bridge.
HMS Broadway’s Bell
The bell from HMS Broadway was salvaged when the ship was decommissioned. In 1951, in a ceremony at City Hall, the bell was presented by the Admiralty to Mayor Impelliteri of New York along with a leather bound volume relating the exploits of the destroyer after she joined the Royal Navy. The bell was later put into safe keeping at the the Lygon Arms Hotel, in the village, which was under the management of Donald Russell at the time. It was presented to the citizens of Broadway by Captain R.G. Mackay, British Naval representative on the United Nations Military Staff Committee, on behalf of the Admiralty.
The bell is currently on display at the Lygon Arms Hotel, High Street, Broadway, and will shortly be moved to Broadway Museum and Art Gallery, Tudor House, 65 High Street, Broadway.
Talk on HMS Broadway – 18th November 2019
To find out more about HMS Broadway, on Monday 18th November 2019, Doug Eyre, will be giving an illustrated talk entitled 1941, HMS Broadway and the Capture of the German Naval Enigma Machine in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. All welcome. Non-members of the Society £3.
Doug Eyre is Broadway Museum and Art Gallery’s resident artist and he has painted a picture depicting the important 1941 engagement that involved HMS Broadway and the discovery of the Enigma machine and codebooks.
Broadway History Society
1. Fritz-Julius Lemp commanded U-28, U-30 and U-110 and sank the British passenger ship SS Athenia, in violation of the Hague conventions in September 1939.
2. Reverend Evelyn Henry Chavasse, DSO, DSC (1906-1991) served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 1st February 1937 and to the rank of Commander on 30th June 1943. He was ordained in 1954.
3. HMS Terrapin was a British submarine of the third group of the T class. She was built as P323 by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow and Belliss and Morcom Ltd, and launched on 31st August 1943.
4. The Boxing Day Dance raised £55 14s 6d. £28 went to HMS Broadway and the balance to the football club fund.
Today we remember Able Seaman Robert Warner Clarke of Broadway who died, aged 19, 76 years ago during the Second World War. Robert, known as Bob, was a member of the crew on submarine HMS P311 when she was sunk by a mine on 8th January 19431 off the coast of Tavolara Island, a small island to the north east of Sardinia.
Bob, was born in Broadway, one of nine children of Frank Thomas Clarke and May Clarke (née Meadows). After the outbreak of the Second World War, Bob enlisted with the Royal Navy Submarine Service and was posted to serve on HMS P311.
HMS P311 was a T-class submarine and the only boat of her class never to have been given a name. She was launched on 5th March 1942 and commissioned 5 months later on 7th August. HMS P311 was supposed to have been assigned the name Tutankhamen but was lost before this was formally done. She had joined the 10th Submarine Flotilla at Malta from Scotland in November 1942 and was attacked and sunk whilst en-route to Maddalena, Sardinia sometime between her final signal on 31st December 1942 and her failure to report on 8th January 19431.
When HMS P311 was lost she was carrying a crew of 71 men, commanded by Richard Douglas Cayley, DSO, RN2. The wreck recently found by divers on 21st May 2016 close to Tavolara Island in the Mediterranean. The vessel is reported to be in good condition with only her bow damaged by the mine explosion and all the bodies of the men are reported to be still on-board having died of suffocation.
Prior to her sinking, whilst in Malta, Able Seaman (no. P/JX 321879) Robert Clarke sent the following letters3 home to his family in Broadway:
4th December 1942
Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,
I hope you received the cable alright & that you are having some good weather & keeping well. I am feeling lovely as where I am the weather is scorching hot. How is everyone down Broadway, tell Dennis Cook4 I will drop him a line very soon but it’s hard to say how long it will take to reach him. When you write to Sid5 tell him I am ok but I don’t expect to see him for a very long time. I wish I could tell you where I am & what this place is like but I can’t.
When you write to me it is best to send it by CW Graphs as they don’t take long to travel.
I am only allowed to send one page so for now I will close with lots of love to all.
20th December 1942
Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,
I hope this short letter finds you in the best of health as it leaves me. I hope you all had a good Xmas as I didn’t do so bad myself accordingly. Last night I had a great surprise I walked into a club with my mate and met Eddie Procter6 the chap from Willersey who married Kathleen Keyte from the bottom of our avenue, he looks well and seems quite happy, him and I are going out together tomorrow if everything is ok.
Has Sid been home on leave lately or has he gone abroad? I would like to see him now. I expect it will be a long while before I am home again but when I do come I hope to have some money saved up. Did you get the £2 I sent to go on my Savings Book that Auntie has got? I will send some more as soon as I can if you will put it on the Book for me.
Give my best to Nibs and all the rest, and tell Kathleen Keyte I saw Eddie.
With all my love Mum,
Bob and the rest of the crew of HMS P311 are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial (Panel 74, Column 1) in Hampshire and Bob is commemorated on the War Memorial in Broadway.
Debbie Williamson Broadway History Society
HMS P311 was reported overdue on 8th January 1943 when she failed to return to base and it is now presumed that she was sunk by Italian mines on or around 2nd January 1943.
Richard Douglas Cayley (1907-1943) was one of the most decorated British submariners of the Second World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1941. His prowess earned him the nickname “Deadeye Dick”.
Bob’s letters are published with the permission of Andy Clarke.
Dennis G. Cook (1922-1977).
Sid was Bob’s older brother born in Broadway in 1921. Lance Corporal 11416496 Sydney Richard Clarke served with the 7th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. during the Second World War. He died, aged 24, on 1st April 1946 and is buried in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway, and is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.
Edgar William Proctor served with the 44 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Flight Sergeant/Air Gunner. He was killed, aged 22, on 22nd January 1944 and is buried in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany, Collective Grave 6. L. 1-7. Son of Thomas and Emily Proctor and husband of Kathleen Elsie Proctor of Broadway, Worcestershire, he is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.