This Was My Garden

Anne Hazelgrove came to the 150th Celebration on June 9th and later sent me this account of her childhood at Netley Hospital. Here are a few excerpts.


My father served in the Royal Army Medical Corps at the Royal Victoria Hospital from the late 1950’s through to 1969. I lived with my parents in married quarters nestled within the grounds of the hospital. Aged 4 years to 14, this was my garden.

The transition from Summer to Autumn was magical. Trees changed from shades of green to woody skeletons as leaves dropped. The wheat fields, when harvested and tied into bales, were no longer bales of hay, but castles, forts or dens. 

November was a busy month. The Service of Remembrance was one of my favourites.  

Held in the Chapel, a spectacle of shining dress uniforms set against the majesty of the reds and golds of the Chapel, while up on the balcony the Bugler played the Last Post. It sent shivers down my spine.

  Another social event of the winter was Bonfire night. Preperations began early with the building of the bonfire on the chosen site. We would help by gathering wood and throwing it on to the pile, but  we were more interested in making our Guys. We would take them into the village for “Penny for the Guy” and the proceeds would by sweets.

At every occasion there was something for the children. Christmas was no exception. The children’s Christmas Party was exciting. Held in what we called the Y.M.C.A. which is now the tea rooms. A sumptuous feast of sandwiches, cakes and squash was followed by games. At the end of the afternoon we waited in anticipation for Father Christmas to arrive. He would be carrying a big sack over his shoulder laden with gifts. I would listen, excitedly for my name, and collect my present. 

Every year the army had a sports day . Everyone gathered on the games field. Scoring boards were erected by the pavilion and I particularly remember the tug-o-war, always a source of great amusement. The children also had a Tug -o –War, which I joined in with. Afterwards there was a picnic. Trestle tables covered with cakes and sandwiches. Families sat in their groups of friends, while the children played on the green. Looking back, I remember the sports days as warm and sunny, with laughter and fun. Set against the backdrop of the Solent, and ships passing by.

 Thank you Anne. It sounds like you had a happy childhood at Netley.

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