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Rem- 1939 - Elsie

 

 

 

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  Extract from Childhood: Elsie's Story September 1939:   
Evacuated from
London to Bath and then Verwood. 
By Colchester Library

 

One evening my friends and I were playing along the road with a ball (in West Ham, London). We noticed that several people had come out of their houses and were talking together, then some more came out. It was a lovely sunny day but it was very unusual as some were crying, others just talking.

We stopped playing and went to see what was happening, thinking someone might have died. As we drew near, one of the men could see we were uneasy and put his arms around us and said "don't worry, nobody has died" but the news on the wireless said war has been declared. Some of the older people were upset because they had lost family in the last war - killed or wounded. We went to school and were told all that we were to do was not to wander off from our homes when playing.

When the planes came over dropping bombs it was frightening. Such noise - all our windows were blown out. My father covered the windows with boards of wood, so it was always dark so we had to keep the lights on all day. At night outside it was dark too as no street lights were on. That was so that the planes could not see what they were bombing. We were issued with gas masks. One day at school we were all given a letter to give our parents. It was to ask if our parents would like us be sent off to a less dangerous area. My parents said "yes" so I was sent to school with a change of clothes to be kept at school until arrangements were made for our evacuation.

We all had to take a pack of sandwiches. This same routine went on for about six weeks. Then one day we were told to keep our coats on, pick up our clothes, gas masks round our necks and we walked in rows of two's, all excited at this new adventure, marching off to the railway station. We did not know where we'd be going. Some of the children were frightened of going away, but the teachers were very kind and held their hand as they walked along. At the station the teacher called out our names and we got onto the train.

(Elsie was evacuated to Bath , but later returned to London . Then things got bad again.)

When we went to church on Sunday morning my father and I were in the choir. The parson has a talk with my father and asked if he would like me to be evacuated as times were worse now than ever. So I was sent away again, through the church. Again we were taken to a village hall. It was in Verwood in Dorset . I was soon picked out by a Mr and Mrs Brown who had a daughter two years younger than me and a son about eight years older.

They had a small farm with three cows and some farm land against the moor where some ponies roamed. I was Starlight Farm, Verwood, Dorset. I soon settled in and Eileen liked having someone to play with. Her big brother Victor was deaf and very nice. One week later I was in school and it was so different. I had already done the work they were doing in London , but they didn't do much sport as it was a small school with few facilities for sport.

Girls did not play much with boys. Some skipped by otherwise stood in little groups. At the weekends Eileen and I would take the milk and cream to the

people who lived in the lane to the farm. At one house the man and woman were both artists and they had five kittens. I liked them. The mother to the kittens had got knocked down and the vet could pot save her so we used to help feed these baby kittens and it took quite a while. Mr and Mrs Browns were about 10 years older than my parents and had their children later in life....

One day they had a letter from my father to pay for my coach fare back to Victoria Station. I was grateful for all of the kind people who took care of us, especially our teachers who visited us as often as they could at the school or in the homes we were at.

 
 

 
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