Wednesday, 26 May 2021


Earlier I blogged about people writing their autobiographies to srae with generations in the future. Following is something my Mum wrote, something I included in my book INTERVIEWS IN TIME:

It was during the autumn of 1938 when the first thoughts of evacuation came into the mind of my family. War seemed to be rearing its ugly head. So off went Mum to the Powers That be to find out all about the evacuation plans and if my sister Margaret and I could go to our Auntie at Southend under the scheme. But because Margaret had caught Chicken Pox at the time, and it seemed highly likely that I would catch it, which I did, the authorities did not feel they could help us.

Fortunately war was not to come yet.

On Friday 1st September 1939 my sister and I were made ready for school. I was to wear my school uniform that day and my sister, Margaret, was coming with me to my school instead of the one she usually attended. We wore our best coats, which had labels with our names on, pinned to our coat lapels. So with gas masks and suitcases we went to assemble in the school hall.

From school we all walked two by two together with our teachers to the nearest railway station which was Vauxhall. I can not remember any tearful partings but we did not fully realise what was happening to us. Only that it was to be an adventure.

We all had raisins and a bar of chocolate to eat on the journey. A journey that did not take us very far, to reading. This was a disappointment to us as it was hardly the quiet countryside we had hoped for.

At Reading the billeting office took children to their allotted homes. Margaret and I were taken to a house where we were to live but no one was at home. So we were taken from door to door in the hope that someone would take us in. Eventually a place was found for us with a family that had two boys and a girl of their own. I could not have been easy for them to have two more children.

On Sunday 3rd September 1939 while out for a walk we met one of our school teachers. She said that we should return to the house immediately as war had been declared. Being of the generation who always did what the teacher said, we went back straight away.

We arrived in time to hear the announcement on the radio by Mr Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, that war had been declared.

We only stayed in Reading for a few weeks as our parents thought that we may as well be in London as reading. So it was back to London and of course we were pleased to be home again. We missed our friends but they too gradually drifted back home to London.

School life started again although not very regularly once the bombing started. I had locked up my books in the desk at the beginning of the school summer holidays and never saw those books again because the evacuations had started before then next term could commence.

Sometime later it was decided that Mum, Margaret and I should be evacuated again. This time mothers were being allowed to go with their children. Once again we gathered at the school hall and off to another unknown destination. This time we had a very long journey which took all day and it was dark when we arrived in Cornwall.

Some of us were taken to a big house where a lady in a nurses uniform came to meet us at the door. I remember thinking how lovely, we were going to live in a big house with a nanny to look after us.

The nanny turned out to be the matron of the workhouse we had just arrived at and were to stay until proper homes were found for us.

We were made very welcome and the food was good.

Mothers, boys and girls all slept in one long dormitory with just one toilet. It could not have been very nice for the Mothers with no privacy whatsoever but we all seemed happy enough and able to relax away from the bombing.

But in London Dad was getting fed up with being on his own so wrote to say that the bombing raids were not too bad. So after a few weeks of getting no nearer to having a place of our own to live, we returned to London.

We settled into a routine of school and air raids.  During the daytime the air raid siren always seemed to sound just as we were sitting down to a meal, Most night we spent under the stairway. Auntie and Granny, who lived next door, would come into us if the raids were very heavy.

Granddad did not bother to come as he was deaf and slept through most of the noise although he did feel the vibrations when bombs dropped nearby.  We also had too neighbours who liked to come into our house when things got too bad because they were frightened to be on their own. It was very cosy in the big cupboard under the stairs where we drank cocoa, ate crackers and sometimes sang hymns.

Dad was always on night duty at the railway so we were worried when he went off to work and wondered what the night would bring.

One morning he came home with his hands bandaged up but as he was always one for a joke we did not believe him when he said he had burnt them. But indeed he had got his hands burned while fighting fires at Nine Elms Railway Depot.

Eventually the inevitable happened and in April 1941 our house was blasted in the bombing, too badly for any more repairs at this time. A land mine had dropped a short way away killing some of the neighbours and leaving an enormous crater. We were lucky to be just covered in soot, dust and grime but alive.

Now we had no home and so lived with relatives for a short while. So while Mum and Dad found a new home for us, Margaret and I were top be evacuated again. My Auntie’s friend had kindly offered to have us. The friend was a widow with three sons and they lived in the Midlands. The Midlands, where was that ?

We were Londoners who only travelled south for holidays, never to the North or the Midlands.

It was a real blessing for us to get out of London once more as by now our nerves were in a very bad state.

This journey was to shape my future although I could not have known it at the time.

The Midlanders were all very kind to us and we soon settled down and felt at home.  It was lovely to be able to walk in the countryside of Sutton Park and not to worry that the sirens would go off and the bombs fall. Even though we were so near Birmingham, which also was having bombing raids, it seemed to us another world free from all the stresses we had come from.

Also we were living in a house with a bathroom, a luxury we had never known before.

So life went on very happily. Margaret returned home before I did. I went back to London when the war ended but returned to the Midlands in September 1948 when I got married to one of the sons, Ken.

So the lady who was my Foster Mother for four years became my Mother ion Law.

I now regard myself as a Midlander but of course can not forget that my roots were on London all those years ago.

I am very thankful that Ken and I never had to make the dreadful decision to part with our two sons because of war and the need to evacuate them to a safe place.

Pray it will never happen again.

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