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Village Hall Centenary

2nd of March 2009

1909 – 2009
The Blue Rhythm Boys
In the Second World War the quiet life of Chipperfield changed with the arrival of the American forces at Bovingdon airfield and the billeting of soldiers from the British Tank Corps with local families when they were stationed in the village. One of the billets was that of Jack Midgley, who married local girl Edith and became the village barber. The servicemen were looking for entertainment in the evenings and, apart from visiting the local public houses, there wasnt a lot going on. A group of local young men got together and formed a band called the Blue Rhythm Boys and very soon the Village Hall was resonating to the melodies played by the group. Quicksteps, waltzes, foxtrots and boogie-woogie were all the rage of the day. How the Village Hall rafters must have resounded to the music of the band!
Chris Saunders says that, being a farmer, he was exempted from military service, but he played his part in the war effort as a special constable. One of his duties was to supervise the dances from the door! Apparently the hall was jam-packed full with very little space for dancing. The local girls must have had a fabulous time with the surplus of men! At the end of these evenings, Chris describes how a lorry used to drive round the local pubs and Village Hall and collect all the Americans up and take them back to the air base. Those who had imbibed too much were firmly assisted on to the lorry.
Musicians playing with the Blue Rhythm Boys included Ken Saunders, Chriss younger brother, who sang, played the harmonica and later the guitar; Bob Cutler, who lived in the flint cottage next to the old school, who was an excellent drummer; Ray Swabys brother Geoff, who lived in Scatterdells Lane, on guitar; Charlie Starlings wife from Bay Tree Farm, Bucks Hill, a singer; Vera Freeman, wife of Charlie Woodward of Jeffreys Farm on piano accordion; and an evacuee who lived at the Red Admiral for a time, on piano. Can you add to the list of people in the band?
Do tell me about your Village Hall memories, so we can collect them all together with any pictures you may have before June this year – not long to go!
Mary Nobbs (01923-269480)

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