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The War Years

ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association and affectionately known by troops as Every Night Something Awful) was established in 1939.  It was set up by Basil Dean and Leslie Henson to provide entertainment for the British military.  Many famous stars performed for ENSA including Gracie Fields, Vera Lynn, George Formby, Tommy Cooper and Joyce Grenfell.  During the the war, ENSA performed over 2,650,000 times to over 300,000,000 servicemen worldwide.

With the outbreak of war, the male members of the expanded Laurey Puppet Company were drafted into His Majesties Forces. Dorrie wrote in the Punch and Puppetry Pars, April 1942:

“The women had picked up the work done by the male cast and hoped to launch puppets on definite war work”. 

By October 1942, the company were performing “on the job” for ENSA.  They travelled with nine puppets to entertain the troops and were received with great interest and general acclamation everywhere they went.

One of the showman’s cases/crates containing the puppets Joy mentions is now proudly in The Joy Laurey Archive.

When the war was over and their work with ENSA was complete Joy, Honor and the rest of the company travelled back home. Once again, they could return to entertaining the British people, in towns and seaside resorts across the country.  This also gave Joy time to concentrate her skills making marionettes.

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