A Mothers Worst Nightmare


It was the summer of 1940. The date was June 8th, The time was 8.a.m.

It was a warm and sunny day, a herald of the fine summer to come, in which the Battle of Britain would be fought high above the heads of young and old alike across our skies, when Britain stood alone in this historic year.

A young couple were married on this day and at this time, in the town of Great Yarmouth, The brideís mother, and the bridegrooms parents were the only witnesses to this quiet ceremony, not unusual at this time, when families were separated by the war.  

The following day the brideís mother left, by train to travel to Weymouth in Dorset to join her husband and nine-year-old son. Her other son was already in the army, and the bridegroom like so many other young men and woman, soon followed suit, joining the armed services later that year.

The bride then joined her parents on the south coast. A baby boy was born in the November of 1941.

Coombe Valley August 1941

Bride with her brother

August 1941

Mother and baby returned to Norfolk in the June of 1942 to live in Gorleston.

Coombe Valley April 1943

Grandmother (Elizabeth Bensley) with the baby (grandchild) and her young son (Aussie Arthur)

April 1943

One morning shortly after the mother and baby now aged 18 months had taken a rented cottage next door to her aunt in Englandís Lane Gorleston, she had cause to call into the Post office in the High St.

Leaving her little one in the pram, thinking it would be all right, as it would only take a minute. On completing her transaction, she was horrified to find pram and baby had disappeared.

The time was around 10 a.m. The police were immediately notified. One can only imagine the motherís feelings.  A full-scale search was immediately launched. Around 2 p.m. the pram was discovered down by the riverside near the malthouses, partially filled with rainwater, as it had been raining for most of the morning. An applecore was found floating in the rainwater.

At 3-30 p.m. the police notified the young mother that an S.O.S message would be announced over the BBC that evening, prior to the news at

Six P.M. If the baby boy had not been found.

Just after 4p.m. A housewife living in Bullís lane Gorleston glanced out of her window to see a little boy being dragged down the lane by a 14 year old girl .She quickly accosted the girl, a crowd gathered, the police arrived and it was all over.

 The distraught mother was reunited with her little boy who appeared to be none the worse, apart from being cold, wet and hungry.

A statement was taken from the 14-year-old girl who said she just decided she would take the little lad. End of story. Except to say the mother was my sister, the little lad was my nephew, who is happily married and now living in Surrey.

Arthur. E. Bensley



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