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Rural Living



In previous issues much has been written about Mark Cross through the centuries and up to the modem day School and Church as it is at present. However little has been said about the war years when Mark Cross did not entirely escape the attention of the Nazis. The Munich scare of the late summer of 1938 when the nation thought we would be at war with Germany within days, saved at that time by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his famous 'piece of paper. During one night in October of that year a searchlight appeared during the hours of darkness in what was then the cricket field, (in front of Mark House farm house).

The scare passed, so did the searchlight, and a year of uneasy peace followed. Mark Cross was reminded very shortly of the war on the 15th September 1940 during the morning when a damaged German bomber returning from the London area jettisoned its 20 bombs on 'Cox’s Poultry Farm'. They were of course small bombs compared with what later dropped elsewhere. Immediately the public formed various opinions why 'Down Cox's' was chosen, as the target, the 35 chicken houses, looked like an army camp; it was meant for St Joseph's, which was then a Roman Catholic College for student priests, now "Legat". By the end of the day, other opinions had been expressed and so on, nearly half the village population had visited the site of the 'stick of bombs' holes - many carrying away bits of everything, including torn pieces of corrugated iron as souvenirs. Fortunately only one employee was slightly hurt, no poultry was lost either. (the two houses destroyed were by chance empty). The feeling in the village was still riding high by the winter all the corrugated roofs had been painted green. The bomb holes were filled in by the evacuees billeted in the village at the time. Isolated bombs fell all around the village at intervals; the School House, near the brickyard, was damaged, subsequently repaired and is still known by that name although some 1/4 mile from the school. Another bomber in heavy mist one Sunday dropped several bombs in 'Dunceed' field. The farmer who owned the field jokingly said it was judgement for ploughing on the previous Sunday. It was only due to the war that farm work other than the tending of livestock was ever undertaken on Sunday's - now of course it is often common practice. Air raid warnings continued and the odd bomb was dropped in surrounding villages until flying bombs in 1944.

Then 'Cox's'copped it again; this time on July 6th 1944. Early in the morning a bomb dropped only yards from the earlier line of bombs, in fact it almost destroyed the oak tree which the previous bomber had to fly round being so low. On this occasion far greater damage to buildings was sustained although fortunately no person or stock received any injury. This was a remarkable fact, for one bomb splinter crashed through a bedroom window coming to rest in the opposite wall crossing the bed of a sleeping land girl. Fortunately Mark Cross village did not suffer any further raids, the war ending a year later.

Mark Cross can claim an early bypass and car park following the war, but lost its station, which we shared with Rotherfield in 1965. Since then its mill main store, several smaller shops and of course in 1988 its garage.

Crowborough & North Weald Monthly Magazine - June 1989


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