1939 saw the country at war again and with evacuation of children and the strength of the Company dropped to five, but with what became known as the ‘phoney war’ youngsters returned home and membership crept up. During those war years the main programme took place on a Sunday - Cross Country running, band, gymnastics, fatigue duty, drill and bible class, all before lunch! Quite often activities would finish in the nearest air raid shelter. First Aid classes would take place in the afternoon, with NCOs’ classes in the Captain’s house in the evening. Summer camps would be held away from the bombs on the playing fields of Eton with the London District.
The large Company storeroom had for some time been converted into a factory making candles and in 1944 the hall, which was at the top of Graham Road, was badly damaged. At the end of the war “WD” contacted all his old boys and told them the 14th needed a better hall – following the blitz, the existing one was supported with tree trunks. As restoration was out the question, an appeal was launched for a new headquarters.
In 1952, the captaincy passed to Stan Hancock and the hall was eventually opened in 1954, it was to be known as the Dickinson Memorial Hall, some £3,500.00 had been raised by bazaars, parents’ whist drives, cricket matches and the like.
By 1956, Stan Hancock had resigned and the Vicar, the Rev. Edmund Roberts, placed his curate, George Forrester in charge for about six months to be followed by Fred Brown, a newcomer to the area, but with BB service in Brighton, Surrey and Watford and he held the reins for just over a year before Doctor’s orders forced him to return to the sidelines. John Gale took over; he had been the Company Drill Officer for two years.
A boyhood friendship between Bernard Clewes, the Company Treasurer, and John Gale now proposed for the 14th. Staff were the greatest need and soon John and Peter Bates returned from Cyprus with the RAF. Other senior boys were encouraged to stay and be trained for service in the Brigade.
More boys came to join; we prospered in London Drill Competitions and introduced a full blue uniform which led the way for the Brigade to launch theirs in 1963.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award involved all our senior members – many where to gain the gold. (We also claim the first gold in Kent was won by a 14th sergeant, Roy Redwood).
The early impetus was now on the wane and membership had declined. Our chaplain, Cannon Roberts had moved away and his successor, the Rev Alan Staines had arrived. After some three years he felt the 14th needed a new Captain and accordingly invited the Treasurer to fill the post. The Drumbeat magazine was launched in the same year, 1967 and continues to flourish.
The Company won the London Drill Cup in 1972 and 1973 and followed this with the Daily Telegraph for the next two years. A chance meeting brought Alan Hamer from Blackheath to join our staff and with Ted Peen’s knack of teaching young buglers and John Light’s expertise on drums we began to produce a higher standard. Bell Lyres, unheard of as instruments, were purchased and we began to enter not only the Brigade’s National Competitions at Stafford but also events at Maidstone and Brighton.