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by cornwallcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ken Martin;Bessie Martin; George Martin;Elizabeth Abrahams;
Location of story: 
Redruth Cornwall
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Doreen Bennett on behalf of Ann Bray, the author and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.


I write today, 11 July 2005, the day after I joined the large crowd who were gathered at Boconnic Estate in Cornwall to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of VE/VJ Day.

The event was extremely well organised, the weather could not have been better, a real ‘summer day’, which as I recall in my childhood when, whilst eating my pasty in the back garden of my home in Fords Row, Redruth, I often watched the “Spitfires” having battle in the sky above me — somehow I had no fear of the consequences. However I did have concerns over my Brother Ken’s lack of urgency in joining my parents, two cats and myself in either the Morrison or Anderson shelters when the siren sounded its warning of imminent danger of enemy planes approaching. The refuge itself was an extremely large iron/steel table under which and attached to was a bed like spring. There we would remain until we heard the siren sound the “all clear”.

I have memories too of when the evacuees arrived and gathered in the reception area of the Tabb’s Hotel Redruth which I think was the correct name at that time. Some of the evacuees joined us at Trewergie School. I remember vividly the ‘purple spots’ that were dotted about on some of their faces (the poor souls had Impetigo). It did not look at all nice and probably caused them great embarrassment. I’m sure that the method of using the ‘Purple Potion’ would be unacceptable in today’s society. Some of the children had head lice also — of course there were those of us who caught them from them, me included.

I make mention now of an incident when, on a somewhat drizzly Sunday, on returning from chapel, my Mother, Bessie Martin placed her navy coat on the clothes horse in front of the ‘Cornish Range’ to dry out. Sometime later, an Aunt of mine, Elizabeth Abrahams paid us her usual visit; she too had been caught in the rain. At some point her navy coat was put on the clothes horse to dry out. A little later the air raid siren sounded, we heard the planes approaching. Suddenly there was massive explosion, the whole house shook. The adults ran outside to find out what had happened. On returning indoors my Aunt smelt something burning. On entering the kitchen she became aware that the clothes horse had fallen on to the Cornish Range. Her words ring clear in my mind to this day, “Bessie come quickly your coat is burning” My mother’s reply, after dealing with the situation, “No that’s not my coat, I removed mine to put yours on the clothes horse”. Although times were tough we all saw the funny side and I can remember the laughter to this day.

On the serious and sad side of this we became aware during the next few hours that the explosion was due to a bomb being dropped inadvertently on Redruth Station. Just above the station was an old chimney stack\’Penandrea’ was the name. The Germans obviously thought this was a factory but missed the target and hitting the railway station itself. On the platform was a serviceman who was waiting for a train to return to his duties after having had a few days compassionate leave to visit his wife and new-born baby. Tragically he was killed.

I conclude now with vivid memories of the day when I proudly walked to school with red, white and blue ribbons in my hair, I felt very proud as I made my way to Trewergie School- obviously the war was over.

Sadly now in my 68th year there is still battle going on around the World — will it ever be any different? I don’t think so!

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