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Marcus Roberts

Places of interest

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Crewe House - 44 Banbury Road, Brackley
The Crown Hotel - High Street, Brackley
Winchester House School - High Street, Brackley
The Red House - 43 High Street, Brackley
The Warshaws - Turweston
The Edelmans - Manor Farm, and Limes Farm, Farthinghoe

1. Crewe House - 44 Banbury Road, Brackley

Crewe House on Banbury Road became the war-time residence of the Froomberg family. Derek Froomberg recalled how they got to Brackley:

'Our family was on holiday in Kent in August 1939 and my father decided to put my two brothers and myself in an hotel in Bournemouth in the care of a nanny and he went off to find a suitable place to evacuate the family. How they picked Brackley is a mystery. We moved to Crewe House Banbury Rd. Brackley, with my grandmother and an occasional visitor my Uncle Joe (unmarried).

The family soon settled into their new life in Brackley, with his mother firstly teaching in the kindergarten and then volunteering for war-work. His father joined the ARP as an air raid warden and his Uncle Saul joined the Home Guard.

Anna Klarenmeyer, who had escaped Nazi Germany, worked as the family cook, at Crewe House, after she left her first employment place at Winchester House and became a long-term family fixture. The family managed to eat well as there was plentiful local produce and Derek's mother had a good relationship with the local shop-keepers.

The boys reveled in the freedoms of the war-time country-side and watching the local war-effort at, sometimes too close, at-hand.

'When we were all mobile on bicycles we used to ride out to the airbases to watch the bombers taking off in the evening to bomb Germany. The nearest base was about 3 miles from our back garden and it was used as a glider training base pre D-Day. This base was bombed with incendiary munitions and this was the only time we were taken from our beds and downstairs. We had a protected room in the basement but we only made it to the ground floor to watch the "fireworks". We used to hear the German bombers going over to bomb Coventry and Birmingham and one night a single bomber dumped a stick of bombs on the nearby village of Evenley, probably being chased by night fighters. We cycled out the following day to view the damage, but the five craters straddled the village without doing any major damage or casualties. After this an army Bofors anti-aircraft gun was based at the bottom of our garden and we supplied the troops with unlimited tea and snacks. This was really exciting for young boys.

The local preparation and launch of D-Day also happened before the eyes of the boys: 'During the build-up to D-Day the Americans arrived and parked their tanks and trucks along the main road but under the avenue of trees. Naturally we went along and got chewing gum and Hershey Bars and were allowed to climb on to the tanks. Another lasting memory is lying on the cricket ground and watching the hundreds of planes flying South with the striped D-Day markings on them. The sky was filled for what seemed like hours.'

Like other Jewish households in Brackley, more exotic members of the family on war-service would make periodic visits. 'My Uncle Dolphie (Re-named Alan]) had volunteered for the army immediately and was sent to Finland very early to fight the Russians, who had invaded. I remember him coming back to Brackley in a drop-head SS Jaguar sports car wearing what looked and smelt like a sheep, he caused quite a sensation! Later he was on Monty's staff at El Alamein and ended up as mayor of Brunswick in Germany driving about in a commandeered bullet-proof Mercedes previously owned by the S.S.

The house has its original war-time name plate, but is otherwise much altered from it war-time condition. It had been through about 4 owners since the War and its current state was largely due to it having been divided into three flats, but has recently received restoration.

2. The Crown Hotel - High Street, Brackley

The Crown Hotel played some part in the Jewish life of the town. Derek Froomberg's grandfather hired and took the Yom Kippur service in a private room at the hotel. Derek also remembers VE Day and, 'somehow we were on the balcony of the Crown Hotel over-looking the Market Square as we were all celebrating the victory.'

3. Winchester House School - High Street, Brackley

Winchester House School took small numbers of Jewish boys as pupils from time to time. Some were sons of leading Sephardic Jews, who had become Anglo-Jewish aristocracy in the 19th century. The school register from 1920 - 1950 has a total of some 50-60 apparently Jewish names. G.N. Carvalho, who entered in 1912, was the son of R.N. Carvalho, the latter was one of the honorary officers of the Anglo-Jewish Association, founded 1871. During the war Patrick Sebag Montefiore was at the school from1942-1945. He was the grandson of Sir Joseph Sebag Montefiore. The greatest number of Jewish boys, were present during the war, and were from the evacuee families who settled in town.

The school also played a part in saving the lives of two German Jewish women, who came to the school as cooks. Some German Jew were able to escape the Nazi regime, if they were able to get invitations of employment in England. Derek Froomberg recalls, 'The school took in two German Jewish refugee sisters aged about 30 and employed them in the kitchens, but they hated it and so we employed one sister, Anna Klarenmeyer, and my grandfather employed the other sister Ruth. They lost the majority of their family in the concentration camps but they were superb cooks and stayed with us throughout the war and moved back with us to London at the end of the war.'

The Jewish boys in the school generally found the regime in the school congenial and that they were accepted without prejudice. Derek Froomberg recalls, 'We were lucky in that there was a very good Prep school Winchester House (a boarding school for boys) but they allowed my elder brother John (who had been at the Hall in London pre-war) to become a day boy and I followed on in his footsteps. This was run by a triumvirate of headmasters, one of whom was a certain Rev. Davies who taught Maths and was definitely anti-Semitic, but the other two were very good teachers and did not discriminate at all.'

Derek also relates, 'One incident at school is worth noting. It was a Rugby playing school and we were playing from aged 7 onwards. We loved it and I ended up in a very successful School XV with a great team. But I only mention this as we were tough little boys and I was insulted by a more senior boy, who later became religious correspondent for BBC Radio, and he challenged me to a fight. This was arranged in one of the school's changing rooms with a stone flag floor and benches round the walls. This fight was witnessed by most of the senior boys who sat around as an audience. My opposition was much bigger than me, but not much of a fighter, so I destroyed him and after that I had no more trouble from anyone.'
'I did not leave the school until 1947, so I was there as a boarder through the last days of the mandate in Palestine, and Jews were not popular as they were killing British soldiers. In fact I remember the King David Hotel blast as the headlines in the newspapers - but nothing was said and although feeling worried I had no need.'

4. The Red House - 43 High Street, Brackley

The Red House became the extended Tibber family home during the War. The family consisted of the parents, Priscilla and Maurice Tibber, the maternal grandparents, Jack & Eva Deyong (who died in 1943 and 1944), two daughters Rosemary (Friedman ) and Jacqueline (Toff) and one son Anthony and an adopted Polish refugee, Max Wolkowicz, from the kinder transport.

They moved there in c. 1940 - 1941 from Goring-on-Sea, Sussex, where they had been evacuated at about the outbreak of war. Anthony Tibber states that, 'They moved from there to Brackley in about 1940/41, after army officers knocked at the door and said they must move as an invasion was likely and Goring would be a landing point!'

It was a large property with an extensive garden and orchard that later became a boarding house for Winchester School. The house and gardens were perfect for children, though tough to maintain without any help during the wartime. Jacquleine Toff (Tibber) reminisces about Brackley and the Red House: 'My mother was coming to terms with running a big house with little help. Her parents (my grandfather was very sick) lived with us and there was a constant flow of family coming to stay... I loved Brackley. I went from being a little girl in pretty, starched frocks to a horrid tomboy in shorts and my brother's old windcheater. I learned to climb trees, walls and anywhere I could hide. We lived in a big Edwardian house with enormous garden, an orchard and stables. No horses in the stables, they were full of stored furniture and the Buick, now on blocks - it couldn't be used because of petrol rationing. No one took much notice of me.'

The house was often used for religious services on the High Holy Days. Anthony Tibber says of these services; 'I remember one Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur when services were held in our home: the ark was an upturned cardboard packing case and a Sepher Torah was brought from London by David Green, a relative. The services were conducted I think mainly by David Green and some Sklans.'

Jacquleine Toff (Tibber) also says of these services, 'On the High Holydays Services were held in houses - mainly ours, I think. They made little impact on me, I was mainly aware of a lot of big people and I didn't really know what was going on. At Passover there was a Seder, I stayed up late which was exciting.'

The famous RAF pilot, Sydney Cohen, 'The King of Lampedusa', visited and stayed at his aunts and cousin's, house in war time Brackley, after his escapade, when an Italian garrison of 4,300 surrendered to him (perhaps as little as 3 weeks afterwards).

The owners of the Red House at the time of writing the trail have an interesting Jewish connection, as Mr. Marks is a close relative of the famous Jewish ballerina, Dame Alicia Markova (Marks) who is said to have 'brought ballet to the people'. Dame Alicia Markova (1910 - 2004) was Britain's first ballerina and she was important in the development of the Ballet Rambert and the Royal Ballet.

5. The Warshaws - Turweston

The next village just east of Brackley is Turweston. Another Jewish couple rented a house in the village, Ted and his wife Gertie Warshaw. Gertie was Derek Froomberg's aunt (his father's sister). Derek Froomberg recalls walking on the foot-path from Brackley to his relatives. So far we have not been able to identify the property in the village.

6. The Edelmans - Manor Farm, and Limes Farm, Farthinghoe

Farthinghoe is four miles west of Brackley on the road (A422) to Banbury. John Deely, who was a boy during the War, recalls the Edelmans as Jewish and stateless refugees, though he has no particular memories of Mrs. Edelman. He also recalls that members of the Pioneer Corp were active around Farthinghoe, and thinks that they were Polish, or certainly Eastern European (many members of the Pioneer Corp were Jewish refugees and this was particularly the case in Northampton where there was a large Czech Jewish contingent). They were busy installed a circle of lights on poles, at a two mile radius from Hinton airfield, which was being used to develop experimental landing guidance systems for bombers for use at night-time. The members of the corp were digging the holes and installing the poles and John would spend time with them - gathering moorhen eggs which they would then cook on the back of a shovel, though some of the eggs had chicks in rather than yolks!

He also saw both Italian and German prisoners of war working on his parent's farm (Limes Farm)and in the vicinity - the Germans had a much greater work ethic, which was plain to see even to a young boy. The Germans busied themselves digging holes all over his parent's farm to plant vegetables and his mother even had to stop them digging up her lawn, where she had to draw the veritable line in the sand. The Germans wanted to plant vegetables and keep their heads down until the end of the War when they could go home. The Italians, by contrast, enjoyed games of football and of course the ladies and did not apply themselves to their work in quite the same way!

John only came across one Nazi, who worked on the farm, who was blond and blue eyed. The discovered his weak spot was wasps, so they would put wasps in the jar, shake them up and then release them on the direction of poor Hans!

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