Second World War evacuees from Portsmouth school say thanks with plaque

Some of the first evacuees leaving Portsmouth
Some of the first evacuees leaving Portsmouth

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FORMER pupils of a grammar school evacuated to the country during the Second World War have shown their gratitude to the people who cared for them.

The Old Secundrians Association, made up of former pupils of the Southern Grammar School for Boys in Portsmouth, unveiled a commemoration plaque.

Ian Owen and fellow evacuees at the plaque unveiling

Ian Owen and fellow evacuees at the plaque unveiling

The plaque has been placed in Brockenhurst Village Hall as a thanks to the people of Brockenhurst and other communities in the New Forest who helped looked after the evacuated students and teachers from Portsmouth between 1939 and 1944.

It also says thanks to the high school which used to stand next to the village hall.

During the unveiling Martyn Robinson, chairman of the association, gave an introduction touching on the history of the school and the events during the evacuation.

Bruce Read, a former chairman of the Village Hall Trust, said that his relatives, who owned the bakery, had taken in two evacuees.

A spokesman for the Old Secundrians Association said: ‘The unveiling of the plaque was performed by 89-year-old Ian Owen who was the oldest evacuee in attendance.

‘He had travelled from the Lake District with his son to be present – a wonderful tribute in its own right.

‘Other evacuees who attended were Gordon Blackman, Peter Bolt, Biff Maber, Colin Peters and Leslie Parkhurst.

‘About 35 were present at the event – all of whom enjoyed refreshments after the unveiling.

‘Heartfelt recollections of the evacuation years and the kindness of the school, the residents of Brockenhurst and other communities were heard in abundance.’

The plaque, which sits at the village hall on Highwood Road, says: ‘With warm appreciation and thanks to Brockenhurst and New Forest communities and the Brockenhurst County High School for their hospitality in accommodating and caring for the pupils and staff of Portsmouth Southern Secondary School during their WWII evacuation September 1939 until December 1944.’

The Old Secundrians Association has 450 members following the closure of the Southern Grammar School closed in 1975.

For more details visit southerngrammar.com.