24th February 2014 interview with Connie (Constance/Chippy) Westbrook nee Bradshaw born 1924
Connie’s photo appears in Eastergate Memories published by Eastergate Parish Council in 1994. It was taken in 1940 in the garden of the Thatched Cottage, Barnham Road, where Connie lived with her parents, Harry and Ada Bradshaw. Connie was a hairdresser, apprenticed in 1938 at Goodacres, York Road, Bognor, and then she worked at Littlehampton. She was cutting some children’s hair in the garden when Canadian soldiers billeted at Westergate House, opposite the garage, strolled by. They asked Connie if she would cut their hair, which she did. The Silver Queen bus passed by and a female freelance journalist saw Connie and the soldiers. She got off the bus and came back, asking if she could take a photograph. She said that there was so much bad news in the papers that it would be good to show something more light-hearted. The photo appeared in the Sunday Post.
When war was declared Connie was 15. Everyone congregated at the church. Canon Nash was the vicar and Mrs Kingsmill ran the girls’ choir. Connie’s father, who had fought in the First World War, became a reserve policeman based in Arundel.
In 1940 a landmine fell in Church Lane, Eastergate, at the first bend on the left travelling from Barnham end. It was Maundy Thursday and Connie was still in bed when the air raid siren sounded. Her mother called her to shelter under the heavy mahogany table but Connie didn’t move. Then there was a whoomp! And pieces of plaster fell off some inside walls in the cottage. No one was hurt but there was some blast damage to nearby houses.
The No.64 Southdown went from Yapton to Chichester via Aldingbourne. Close to Tangmere the conductor would pull down the blinds so that any ‘spies’ on board were unable to see the aerodrome. [I have heard this about the Silver Queen and, as both company’s ran buses in competition, this could be true of both. SL]
Connie cycled to Littlehampton to her hairdressing job, going to Yapton and then along Bilsham Road to the A259 Littlehampton road as Ford aerodrome was out of bounds. The new bridge over the Arun is modern and she took the old road along Ferry Road to where the footbridge is today. At the bridge was a soldier who looked at her ID card. One day on crossing the bridge at the end of the day, she showed her card, wondered if she had locked the shop door, showed her card again as she returned, she had, so she showed her card again on the way home. By this time, the soldier would have known her well!
Connie married John Westbrook in September 1942:
Connie is a granddaughter of William Collins, her mother Ada was his daughter. Ada married a Mr Godley who was killed in WW1, their son was killed in WW2 – see Eastergate War Memorial.
Connie said that the two men on the cover of Eastergate Memories are Willie Woods father of Connie’s aunt. His daughter Gertrude married Albert Collins 4th son of William Collins. The other man is Mr Harvey who lived in a big house opposite what is now the doctors’ surgery. [Alfred Harvey was the brother of Adelaide Walling nee Harvey, originally from Chatham, Kent, and he lived next to the village hall.]
Revised May 2020