Four Poplars
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'Four Poplars' is about Clifford Davies' childhood when he was brought up in the village of Wroxham in the Norfolk Broads in the early years of the last century, the youngest child of the village schoolmaster. He enjoyed a childhood of extraordinary happiness and security. There was boating and swimming in the River Bure, which still ran crystal clear (the Broads had not yet become a holiday mecca). There were summer picnics on the river, messing about in (and with) boats and games of pirates and explorers. At home there was a great deal of music, singing and amateur dramatics. But life was not easy. For two years during the First World War, eight-year-old Clifford and his older brother had to work seven days a week looking after the cattle on a farm because the labourer had been called up. There was tragedy too; Clifford could never forget the day in 1917 when his mother received a letter to say that the eldest boy, away fighting in France, had been killed in the trenches. In later years the Church beckoned, and Clifford went on to a career as a Naval chaplain where he served both at home and abroad, in ships and shore bases, from 1936 until 1962. He was awarded the OBE (Military) in 1942 for his efforts to boost and maintain morale on board HMS Despatch, sailing in the Pacific, isolated and out of touch with UK. In 1959 he was appointed Honorary Chaplain to HM the Queen. But memories of those first golden years always drew him back to his childhood. In 1971 he wrote the 'Four Poplars' as a memoir of those times and a tribute to the village where he had known such happiness. The trees of the title, which stood by the spot where Clifford and his chums used to bathe, were a landmark which stayed with him throughout his life. Forty years on and 31 years after his death in 1980 at the age of 74, Clifford Davies’ family have resurrected his manuscript and entrusted it to Memoirs Books to edit and publish. It is an enchanting story of an England which has long gone.