World War Two at our School
Interview with Mr & Mrs Harold Bennett
Mr Harold Bennett and his wife Robyn were ex-pupils of Campbell's Bay School. Mr Bennett was here in 1948 - 1957 and Mrs Bennett in 1947 - 1955.
Were there any bomb shelters left when you were at our school?
I don't remember, but the search lights were still on the beaches.
Did you still do drills when you were at school?
No, but at intermediate and college they did marching, rifle and army drills. In 1956 at Rangitoto College, Mr Bennett did army drills. They were formed into platoons, and did rifle drills with no bullets. Mrs Bennett didn't do drills, only the boys did. The Army helped with the training and the teachers would be in army uniform too. The boys all went on a two week live-in course at the Papakura Army Camp. They learnt to shoot with live bullets there. Everyone thought there could be another war at any time. They were sure they would have to fight at some time in their lives, because their fathers and grandfathers had all been to war.
Were the guns in Kennedy Park still there?
Yes, and they were still firing at practise targets. The school opened all the windows when there was going to be shooting, so the windows didn't break.
Were the disguises still there?
Yes they were still on the guns. The whole of Kennedy park was all out of bounds, it was still army land and you weren't allowed to go there. If you went to visit some of the army kids to play, you could try and sneak in, but the soldiers would always kick you out.
Did you use the trenches in any way?
Was there still rationing?
Yes there was still rationing. There was also a black market and you could often buy things you really wanted, if you had the money.
Did you know anyone that went to the war?
Mrs Bennett's dad went to the war. She didn't meet him until she was four years old and he came back as a war hero. It was very exciting when he came back, but also very emotional for everyone. Mrs Bennett's dad had fought in Italy and Egypt and she lived with her grandparents , because, with her dad was away, they had no house.
Did you have to have black outs?
Yes we did have black outs
Did anything change?
The two story building at school was new and the harbour bridge was still being built. The school had a small library, no bike shed, but milk crates at the gate for the school milk. Campbell's Bay School was so full, that the senior kids did their work at the Health Camp up at Park Rise, where the Orongo Home now is. They used to walk through the bush to run messages for the teachers. During the polio scare, the school was closed and the children did lessons from the radio. Some kids got polio and had braces on their legs.
What job do you do now?
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Assistant General Manager. Mr Bennett was in charge of keeping the America's Cup Racing fair, he had to make lots of important decisions. He helps a lot with youth sailing. He has been to many different countries with sailing, even Pakistan.
Has Campbell's Bay School changed since you were here?
Yes it is much bigger and has more people. The school was the only school in the area when we lived here. Mr Bennett got the bus from Murrays Bay. None of the children wore shoes to school. The only other school was Browns Bay. Dr Dale was the Principal when we were here. The dental nurse had a pedal drill that she worked with her foot. It was terrifying to go to the dental nurse. We were given an apple a day and in winter we could buy hot cocoa if we brought our own mug and a penny to pay for the cocoa.
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