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Memories of the War

In 1981 Hethersett was the featured village on Radio Norfolk's Village Voice. Hilda Hagg, who was 85 at the time, spoke about her memories of the war years. Hilda ran the Kinkajou Cafe (now demolished) for many years. During the war this was visited by Polish, Czech and American troops. The Medical Service was stationed at Old Hall and soldiers were billeted in the village.

People walked out from Norwich to eat at the cafe where egg and chips cost 9d, egg chips, bread and butter and tea 1s 1d and no meals more than 2s (10p in today's money). Soldiers would come in for 50 cups of tea and then order 50 meals. Eventually the Kinkajou had to change from a restaurant to a transport cafe in order to get food during times of rationing.

The foreign soldiers were lovely. The Czechs would come in. If one of them was missing they would be crying. Then somebody would come in they thought was dead and they would be singing and celebrating. I had letters from them all after the war.

The following is an extract from a letter home from Roy Jonasson an American airman with the USAF 389th Bombardment Group stationed at Hethel airfield during the Second World War.

I pedalled to a little town six miles away by the name of Hethersett, a beautiful little English village. It was about 5.50 p.m as I approached and coming down the narrow, winding road I could hear the church chimes in the distance. When I got round the bend in the road I could see the little English church sitting on the side of the hill. It was one of the most beautiful sights  have ever seen. The church on the hill and the sheep grazing in the green meadow. There was a cemetery just outside the church, at one side, and we saw the most beautiful sunset. I decided to go into the church. I found it somewhat similar to our church. The most interesting thing I noticed was that the people were there for a reason, to give thanks. They let me know that I was welcome but that was all. They do not gather after church, they all walked out solemnly. I liked it so well that I shall go there again when I have the chance.

(The above was featured in the brochure for the Hethersett Revealed weekend being held in June, 2005).