Air raid drills part wartime school life

St Hilda’s Old Scholar Del-phine Anderson. d399921
St Hilda’s Old Scholar Del-phine Anderson. d399921

The 86-year-old Cottesloe resident grew up one door down from the school and was one of two of the first children in the St Hilda’s kindergarten when it opened in 1931.

Ms Anderson is one of St Hilda’s oldest scholars and a member of the Old Scholars Association, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

‘I think it has changed tremendously but we were very lucky because our headmistress Catherine Small, who had come from England, had very progressive views and believed we needed to have a broader education,’ Ms Anderson said.

‘In the war years she was responsible for those boarders whose parents went to fight the Japanese up in the islands.’

During the years of World War II, Ms Anderson recalled practising air raids drills and digging trenches in the picturesque grounds, which overlook the Swan River. ‘It was quite exciting really, we had to chop through the roots of morton bay fig trees,’ she said.

‘There were a couple of air raids ” I didn’t know whether they were mistakes or false alarms.

‘I just went with it; it was my life, very pleasant, trouble free, a nice secure feeling.’

Ms Anderson graduated from St Hilda’s in 1944 aged 18 and went on to work at the Children’s Hospital, living her entire life in Perth where she raised her four children ” her three girls also attended St Hilda’s ” and 12 grandchildren.

‘I enjoyed everything but my results may not have often reflected that,’ she said.

‘I think the girls are very lucky, they have so much opportunity in terms of sport and academically and I think it keeps abreast of the times.’

Ms Anderson still plays bridge with her former classmates.