Long lost diary of boy, 14, gives a snapshot of life in Fakenham in 1941
10:31 22 November 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
A snapshot of life in Fakenham in 1941, as seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old schoolboy, has been captured in a newly-rediscovered wartime diary.
The diary of Frederick Parker, who was evacuated to Fakenham from London, tells of his school days, his work as a part-time delivery boy for the local greengrocer and mentions national and local news events of the time.
It also gives an account of the bombing of The Salvation Army Temple in Fakenham on May 7, 1941.
The diary was discovered by Mr Parker’s widow Joan just a few days after he died, aged 85, on New Year’s Eve last year.
Mrs Parker, 74, a former librarian who lives in Rochester, Kent, sent it to Fakenham Library and it was passed on to the Fakenham Community Archive group.
The group has published word-for-word copies of the diary in booklets which are now on sale.
Mrs Parker said: “I had no idea the diary existed until after my husband died. I was just going through some old boxes of papers when I picked it up and started to read it.
“I got in touch with Fakenham Library as I felt there would be a lot of interest.
“I am pleased to see the diary is being used in this way by the Fakenham Community Archive group. I would like to see it used as part of a school project.”
Mrs Parker added: “My husband spoke a bit, but not a great deal about his time in Fakenham. He made some good friends at the school but I think he had a difficult time there because he missed being away from his family.
“I have never been to Fakenham but would like to visit the town at some point and see some of the places my husband writes about.”
Mr Parker was born in London on October 16, 1926, the third of seven children.
He won a scholarship to a grammar school in London, and was evacuated to Fakenham in 1941 with the rest of his schoolmates and teachers to avoid the bombing in the capital.
The handwritten diary was updated every day for nearly a year.
The Fakenham Community Archive group is a voluntary organisation which collects photographs and accounts of life in Fakenham and the surrounding villages. Chairman Lyn Maple said: “Frederick was clearly a very intelligent young boy.
“His diary refers to some of the books he was reading, which included short stories from HG Wells and Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts – not the sort of things you would expect a 14-year-old to be reading.”
She added: “This is a fantastic project for us to be involved with and we are very grateful to Joan Parker for sending the diary to us.
“There has been lots of interest. We printed 100 copies of the booklet originally and will have to print more due to the demand.”
The Fakenham Community Archive group is still in possession of the original diary but will send it to the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich to ensure it stays in top condition.
After Mr Parker left school in 1943, he re-joined his family in Luton, working for a year as a clerk in the town hall.
The following year he was conscripted into the Fleet Air Arm as an engine fitter.
He served for three years on various aircraft carriers and spent some of that time in Sri Lanka. He went on to become a teacher.
The booklet costs £3 plus £1 postage and packaging. To order a copy, call Mrs Maple on 01328 863377, go to www.fakenhamcommunityarchive.weebly.com or turn up to the group’s next meeting at Fakenham Parish Church from 2pm until 4pm on Monday.