Marcus Roberts


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The Jewish evacuees had a very positive experience of Brackley and they found that they were accepted into community life. Derek Froomberg's grandfather even became the President of the local cricket club and brought new kit for the players. The children especially thrived on the rural atmosphere and diversions offered by rural life in Brackley, including hay-rides, may-pole dancing and collecting newts! The boys were fascinated with all of the military hardware to be seen in and around Brackley, as well as watching bombers flying from the local aerodromes fly over ahead and observing the secret glider preparations for D Day at Croughton.

While the younger members of the Jewish families enjoyed their time in Brackley, the adults were anxious much of the time, though many busied themselves in the war-effort on the home-front. Derek Froomberg's father joined the ARP, and as an air raid warden, and Derek says he, 'very rarely donned his tin hat and walked up and down our street telling people to make sure their black-out curtains were in place. My Uncle Saul joined the Home Guard locally and we all took the "mickey"'.

The fear of possible imminent Nazi invasion did play on minds of Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Brackley, even to the extent that one of the non-Jewish guardians of one Jewish girl asked her to take off her Star of David in case the Nazis did arrive for her own protection.

The evacuees had few memories of any anti-Semitism, which was largely of the most trivial kind, for example when the owner of the Crown Hotel seemed genuinely disappointed to discover that Jews did not have horns! Derek Froomberg's Uncle, Adolf ('Dolphie') soon re-named himself 'Alan', for obvious reasons, before going on to distinguishes war-service including work with 'Monty's' staff at El Alamein.

Jacqueline Toff (Tibber) remembers, 'I was not aware of any anti-Semitism, although once I was followed home by some children chanting "you're a Jew" - I was scared although they did not seem threatening, I didn't really know what they meant. When I went to the High School, I had to stand outside the hall door during Assembly and prayers with my sister and one other Jewish girl - I hated that.'

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