By the beginning of 1940 enrolments were 666 students and by 1941 they had reached close to 700. Unfortunately 1940 started off with tragedy. Billy Broadway, aged five, a student at Kingsville, rode his tricycle down to Cruikshank Park and slipped into a quarry hole and drowned. His father Mr Broadway ran a barber’s shop on Somerville Road at the corner of Tuppen Street.
By 1942 enrolments had fallen dramatically to 569. This could have been due to the effects on the local community from World War II. Two air raid shelters were dug on the western school boundary parallel to Somerville Road and students would participate in regular air raid practice. The headmaster would blow on a whistle three times and the lower grade students would walk swiftly to the air raid shelters. Students in the middle and senior grades were instructed to walk through the school ground to the western boundary fence and lie down and hide in the plants and rocks. In the event that an evacuation had to take place each student had been given an evacuation bag. This would contain some essential supplies and the children would take it with them whilst being transported to a safe area outside of Melbourne. Their parents would then pick them up once the danger had passed. The US Army also had a base in the wool stores on Somerville Road over the Geelong road corner. Every so often the children would stand out at the Julian street corner to the school to watch the US tanks rumbling past.
On Sunday 26 February 1942 just before 10am anyone standing near the school would have seen a remarkable sight. A slow moving, single winged, Japanese reconnaissance aircraft flew over the Laverton RAAF base, Williamstown, Newport, Spotswood and then towards Maribyrnong before turning to the CBD. It was believed to be searching for potentially bombing targets. Eventually it turned south towards the bay and an unknown destination out at sea where a submarine was supposedly waiting.
‘In about 1942 one of the boys broke into the school on a weekend and stole all of the straps from every class room. On parade on the Monday morning, the head master told of this break in and said that the whole school would be punished if the culprit did not own up. The boy who did it admitted it and became an overnight hero. The whole school wanted to be his best friend’ - Bob Blakely, former pupil.
Unfortunately there is not a complete list of all Kingsville students who served in the Second World War. We do know that one ex-pupil who made the ultimate sacrifice was Bob Willis. Bob attended Kingsville from 1923 to 1930 and was a member of the 10th Sunderland Squadron. Unfortunately he was shot down and killed over the Bay of Biscay during 1942. ‘Skeeter’ Smith and Ernie Bull were both former Kingsville students who also served during the war. They were captured at by the Japanese at Ambo, which is an island in East Indonesia. Ernie Smith was able to return home after the war but unfortunately Skeeter Smith lost his life in the war.
In September 1943 a new headmaster was appointed, Mr A.M. Savige. The district inspector noted ‘….it was a very well run school with the headmaster carrying his fair share of the teaching load. The school is in a sound state and the headmaster and staff are commended for the very good work that is being done’.
In the 1940s some students referred to the school as the 'Old Kingy School'. At this time the school had a caretaker, who was responsible for looking after the grounds and buildings. In late 1943, Jack Fell, was appointed to this role and he kept the school in good order along with the help of his wife Alma. They lived in the caretaker’s house at 60 Bishop Street. The house however in those days had no hot water or gas. The hot water was obtained from a ‘chip’ heater over the bath and cooking was one a ‘one fire stove’. This was commonplace for many houses in these times.
On 15th December 1944 the school held an evening ball. You can see a copy of the programme below. We will have to imagine what the evening would have been like, but it may have had swing music and lots of dancing.
Ink pens were used by students right up until the 1950s. You had to take your pen and dip it into an inkwell before you could write anything. Unfortunately if you knocked over your inkwell you could ruin an entire day of writing!
On the 6th September a new Headmaster was appointed, Mr Louis J. Lia. The inspector commented that ‘…the new headmaster has commenced his duties with zest and gives promise of fine work. He is managing his school on sound lines and is winning very good support’.
During the late 1940s the boys in the playground would be kicking footballs or playing Cherry Bobs. To play Cherry Bobs you would draw and line on the ground and along one side place six cherry stones to each person. About 1 metre away a circle would be drawn large enough for all the players to stand in at the one time. Each player would take an iron or metal disc and one by one stand in the circle and throws the disc towards the cherry stones to try and hit them. At the end of the game the person who has hit the most cherry stones over the line wins. Another version involves a hole being dug into the ground. Odds would be called out (a prize for winning, such as your opponents cherry bobs) and a challenger would try and throw their cherry stone into the hole from a distance of two or three paces. If successful then that player would win the odds.
In the 1940s the shop across the road from the school was known as Lobby’s Tuckshop and many children would buy their lunch there. A pie and sauce was four pence. Otherwise the school Mother's Group would help serve lunch to the students, which consisted of sandwiches, fruit and milk as shown in the newspaper article below.
Student reports in the 1940s consisted of one piece of paper and the student was given a score for each subject. Below is an example.
In 1949 a free milk program started at the school. It was thought at that time that milk helped promote healthy growth in children. Students looked forward to the cool refreshing drink just before play time, except in the hot months of summer when the milk was often warm.
As you can see from the image below, students were not required to wear uniforms in the 1940s. Quite a few of the boys wore ties and the girls commonly wore skirts or dresses.