Jean Davey (née Reed)

Joined 1946

Preston Nursing Cadet Division, West Sussex

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Black and white polaroid showing two men or boys, viewed from behind, standing in front of some partially constructed tents in a field, a female Cadet in uniform sat on the ground beyond the tents
Campsite at Ninfiled, Bexhill, Sussex, August 1953 Image courtesy of Jean Davey
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You’d meet other divisions there who were camping at that same week because the campsite has to be open – I think it was for about a month and so different weeks, different divisions would come in and you had to book it for your division and very often the same divisions would come at the same time year after year. So you got to know them and that was sort of interesting but another thing now, when I think about it, the boys’ tents were over that side of the field and the girls’ tents were here and you mustn’t mix. You mustn’t go into the boys’ area to talk to somebody and they mustn’t come to you. Very often the boys used to come over to chat or something and you’d chat and if a senior who was running the camp would see them, “Over the other side, please. Over the other side.” So you went into the field. If you went into the middle of the field you could then talk to each other and that, very strange really but still, I suppose they were keeping an eye on us because I remember we got permission when I was older, in the older teens, and interested in boys we wanted to go. Bexhill, De La Warr, do you know the Pavilion? Yeah, they were doing dance nights. They were having a dance on a night and because we and the boys decided we’d like to go to a dance, so we had to get permission and we got tickets to say we could be out of the camp and we – they found out the bus times back and they would be back on time and we had a good evening and coming back, because there was – I don’t think there was any street lighting there. One of the boys said, “We won’t get off at the stop by the camp. We’ll go on to the next stop.” Okay, so that meant that we got up there and because we had to walk down here in the dark to the next stop and, you know, everybody’s sparring around and laughing and that and thinking we’ve got to walk up that dark lane to the campsite and that. And as we got to there and turned round the corner, there was Irene, who was standing there with her other – I forget the other girls who used to help her. “Good evening, did you have a nice time?” Everybody, didn’t expect her, and she walked back with us to the campsite, “Say goodbye. Say your goodbyes,” and she would see that us girls would go that side and boys would go that side and, looking back on it, I think they were rather good to do that, you know. They were really looking after us. You know, there was no shenanigans going on! No, but you know, it was nice meeting up with other divisions and that. It was really good fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

Excerpt courtesy of Jean Davey