Ivor Noel Morgan White
In his own words
Born 1926, in South Lodge, within the walls of Battle Abbey Park, East Sussex, England
I feel very proud to have been born in this ancient sand-stone cottage on the edge of the famous 1066 Battlefield
The Battle Abbey Estate became my chilhood playground, and among the fields, lakes, ponds and trees of a bygone world, I grew up to follow in the family's footsteps. My Father, Grandfather, and brother all worked as Gardeners in the Kitchen Garden and all answered to the name of "White" when addressed by their employers, but . . . as the very youngest member of "the Abbey family" I was on first-name terms with Evelyn Harbord and Margaret Jacoby who leased the Abbey and the world famous School for Girls.
Educated at Battle and Langton School, I trudged up and down this Lower Lake twice a day from the age of five until I left school at the age of 14. Half way up on the left were Sutton's the Butchers, White's the Tailors, and Oliver's the Printers. Working for Mr Sutton I did a Saturday morning butcher's round with a huge Tradesman's bicycle full to the brim with meat orders which I delivered to as far as Telham southwards, and Netherfield to the north, and all points in between, for 1s/6d (and occasionally a pound of Sausages, if there were any left over at the end of my round.)
School Photo at Age 13
"Lower Lake" from a postcard collection by Ken Clarke On the other side of the road was Mr Stace's Grocery Shop where one could buy sherbert dabs, changing balls, and liquorice bootlaces, and on certain days very cheap bags of "broken biscuits".
The Bus fare for children from Battle to Hastings, Wellington Square was four old-pennies each way, or three old-pennies to Silverhill, so my One Shilling and Six Old Pennies got me to a choice of the six Cinemas in Hastings, and there was enough change for an Ice Cream and a packet of Crisps in the Interval. Sometimes I would visit two Cinemas, and walk home.
I loved going to the Cinemas. Hence my first real job . . Projectionist at the Senlac Cinema, Battle, East Sussex Of course I had to spend many weeks just re-winding films before I was allowed to operate a projector, but after a year I was able to run the whole show un-aided, and often did, during those dark dangerous days of 1941-44. While my Chief Operator Mr.Cyril Parslow was carrying out his Royal Observer Corps duties at Pevensey, spotting, identifying, plotting and reporting enemy plane positions to local airfields where our Spitfires and Hurricanes were waiting to intercept them, I would hold the fort at the Senlac during weekdays, and on every second Sunday I would fill in for him at the Winter Garden Cinema in Eastbourne.
In 1941 the 8th Canadian Recce Battallion were stationed in the Abbey - this meant that I was issued with a Civilian pass to the Abbey
I enrolled as a member of 22 Platoon, Battle Home Guard on the 29th January 1942.
I would shut up shop at the Cinema at about 10.30pm hurry home to change into my uniform, grab some sandwiches, and my gun, and report for duty at Home Guard Headquarters in Senlac House, opposite the Abbey Gateway by midnight, on every third night from 12 midnight until 6am. for a week, and then take a week off. At only 15yrs of age, and the youngest member of Battle Home Guard, I was occasionally called upon to patrol the Abbey Grounds during the night, and remember during one tour of duty helping to rescue an elderly (Dad's Army) volunteer who in the darkness fell into the famous Lily Pond. I was issued with the only (B.A.R) Browning automatic rifle in my Company and ten rounds of live ammunition which I kept at home ready for instant use at any time day or night. And, I became a Certified B.A.R Marksman by the time I reached 16.
Abbey Lodge age 15
It was early December 1944 when the brown paper envelope dropped on our doormat at 13, Senlac Gardens, asking me to report, in my Home Guard uniform, to "The Guards Depot" at Caterham on the Hill in Surrey. I just thought they were just inviting me to Christmas Dinner, but when I arrived there, four days early, they gave me a brand new uniform and told me that I would be staying 'for the duration', whatever that meant. They said "The Sergeant Major will look after you like a Mother" but then they said that to all the other lads as well ! There were 20 of us including a "Trained Soldier" crammed into this wooden hut with a corrugated iron roof, with one cast-iron wood-burning stove in the centre. The "Trained Soldier" already had a screen around his bed in the corner and the rest of us fought for what we thought was the best bed space near the stove.
Because in the Home Guard I had learned map-reading, orienteering, how to operate a two-way wireless set, (Able,Baker,Charlie,Dog,Easy,Fox . . . .it's all changed now), could fire several types of small-arms, including the Browning Automatic Rifle, and had thrown a few hand-grenades, they made me Squad-Leader and gave me a small "Stripe" to sew on my battle-dress. And so began my twelve weeks of isolation from the rest of the world, sleeping on boards, and shaving with cold water, while I too became a trained soldier.
Guards Depot 1944
An Irish Guardsman, able to Troop the Colour, guard Buckingham Palace, drink Guinness, and find my way back to barracks in the blackout without a Compass.
Served in "The Irish Guards" 1944-48, in Germany and Palestine
Mrs Mabel White outside 13 Senlac Gardens
Served in the Territorial Army between 1950 and 1954
My dad died in February 2008 aged 81