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From the war time Basingstoke diary of Evelyn Bailey

by Judy Melluish

My aunt Evelyn Bailey worked for Archdeacon Anthony W Chute at Basingstoke Rectory for 20 years until his death on 2nd April, 1958. She always spoke fondly of her time there. Afterwards she went on to become Housekeeper to Rev David Howe at Hook Rectory and then at Broughton Rectory near Stockbridge until the retirement of the Rector there. Evelyn continued to live at Broughton until shortly before her death on 4 January 2005.


Thu 24 Aug: Crisis. Anxious days. ARP preparations at the rectory.

Sun 27 Aug: Peace service at St Michael’s.

Mon 28 Aug: Hectic times, Crisis hanging on. Busy with ARP preparations.

Thu 31 Aug: Busy preparing for evacuees.

Evacuees at the Rectory Basingstoke
Evacuees at the Rectory Basingstoke

Fri 1 Sept: Awful day. Poland declares war. Children evacuated. 3 tiny boys here. Gerald called up. [Gerald, my father) and Archie were Evelyn’s brothers]

Sat 2 Sept: Little boys very good. Busy nerve wracking week.

Sun 3 Sept: England declares war. Sad day. Arch called up.

Wed 6 Sept: LWH [Toc H League of Women Helpers] further meetings cancelled.

Fri 8 Sept: Took Mickey [Mickey Delaney was one of the evacuees] shopping and home to tea with me [Evelyn’s mother lived in Burgess Road]

Sat 16 Sept: Saw Gerald off. Trains full of troops. Troops teeming through town all past week.

Sun 24 Sept: Gerald went through with troops going abroad.

Sat 7 Oct: Soldiers to use Toc H HQ as recreation rooms.

Sat 11 Nov: Arch Lance Cpl now.

Wed 6 Dec: Dr to Peter [an evacuee] unsuccessful. Visit to dentist with him.

Thu 7 Dec: Took Peter to clinic to have tooth out. Successful this time.

Thu 21 Dec: Peter and Mickey gone home for Xmas. Saw them off at station.


Wed 10 Jan 1940: Very jolly evening at LWH. Most interesting talk on America by Mrs Chesterfield.

Tue 16 Jan: Mickey knocked down by car. Not badly hurt. [An effect of the blackout perhaps?]

Tue 6 Feb: Mickey’s birthday. Aged 7.

Mon 12 Feb: Gerald home on leave from France.

Thu 29 Feb: Toc H dance at Town Hall very successful.

Wed 17 Apr: LWH Mr Willis speaking on the history of Basingstoke.

Fri 10 May: War news bad. Germany invades Low Countries.

Mon 27 May: Peter’s birthday. His mother and Joan [sister?] to tea.

Thu 30 May: Evacuation of Dunkirk. Very dangerous conditions.

Fri 31 May: Loads and loads of BEF returning. Great anxiety for Gerald’s safety.

Sun 2 Jun: Saw heaps of BEF trains.

Wed 5 Jun: Heard of Gerald’s safe return from Dunkirk. Thank God.

Sat 15 Jun: Very grave war news.

Tues 18 Jun: Gerald home on leave. Cheers.

Sun 21 Jul: Peter gone away to Warminster with his mother to live.

Fri 2 Aug: Tommy Darling [evacuee] arrives.

Tue 13 Aug: Sirens. Sheltered 1 ½ hours.

Thu 15 Aug: Sirens. Tommy has poisoned hand.

Fri 16 Aug: Sirens 3 times. Bombs dropped Burgess Road, Church Street, 6.10. Terrible time. I was home.

Sat 17 Aug: Time bomb explodes Church Square and one dropped on Burgess Road. Windows at home all broken and ceilings damaged. St Michael’s and the Methodist church badly damaged.

Sun 18 Aug: Sirens at 1.15.

Mon 19 Aug: Sirens at 11. Gunfire. Busy times.

Tue 20 Aug: Peaceful day.

Wed 21 Aug: Sirens at 10 and 1.10. Lasting an hour.

Evelyn with her brother Gerald, Judy’s grandfather
Evelyn with her brother Gerald, Judy’s father

Fri Aug 23: Evelyn kept this letter from her brother Gerald, Judy Melluish’s father who was stationed at Newcastle Under Lyne, Staffs

Well, you certainly have had your share of sirens and bombing. Yes, it was much too close to be comfortable, and I thank God that you are all safe. It was a good job you were home with Mum. She is wonderful, isn’t she? I’m very glad it didn’t affect her too badly. The sirens seldom go before the damage is done in spite of all the precautions. I often wonder why they are allowed to get through so far, but I suppose they come over in such numbers some are bound to get through and we still haven’t a large enough air force to cope with them all. It’s a damned shame, all the damage they do and the terrible loss of life. I’m sure they must have had a terrifying time at the Rectory, and it’s a great shame about St Michael’s. I expect Mr Chute is greatly put out. I expect they were after the railway or Thorny’s. Anyhow, I’m glad you told me all about it, for, as you say, I might have heard rumours and worried myself. They appear to have dropped bombs all around Basingstoke and I believe some places have suffered very badly. It’s a good thing to know that you are all safe, but it must have been draughty with all the windows out. I hope, please God, you won’t have any more raids and haven’t had any since you wrote.

Sat 24 Aug: Siren.

Mon 26 Aug: Siren.

Sun 8 Sept: Siren, 8.30.

Wed 25 Sep: Sirens.

Sat 28 Sep: Bad night. 2 sirens.

Mon 30 Sep: Sirens.

Tue 8 Oct: Sirens.

Thu 24 Oct: high explosive bomb dropped at Cliddesden Road. Lots of damage done.

Sat 9 Nov: Bombs dropped at Solby’s Road and time bomb at May Street.

Sat 23 Nov: Bombs dropped in rectory grounds,town and Penrith Road. All evacuated as thought to be time bomb. Boys home with me. Damage slight considering. All safe at Rectory. Casualties at Penrith Road.

Wed 27 Nov: Started clearing debris at Rectory with Norah.

Sat 14 Dec: Busy clearing up. Rectory full of workmen.

Sun 15 Dec: Patrick [evacuee] went home to Portsmouth.

Fri 27 Dec: Gerald returns. I return to Rectory with Mrs Creed and Norah. [Norah was Norah Cottrell, who became Norah Holt. Mrs Creed was believed to be the cook replacing Mrs Kettle who left with her husband on Fri 9 Aug.]

Bomb crater in Rectory Garden
Bomb crater in Rectory Garden

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