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How to Earn a Sixpence


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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Molly Pilch
Location of story: 
East Grinstead/Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 November 2005

I was evacuated first of all from right by Croydon Airport to East Grinstead, which to anyone who knows the distance is just a short bus ride. I was billeted with some people who were very very religious, and we had to go to church etc. There were two sisters and myself (the two sisters were strangers to me) and when I slept in the middle of the bed I had the most terrible nose bleeds, so I moved from there to another lot of people in East Grinstead. I was lucky because there was a cinema there. This got very badly bombed with lots of children in it, but I wasn’t in it as I wasn’t allowed to go by the second people I was billeted with.
As a ten year old I was rather tall, and ate rather a lot and she thought that I had worms so she gave me worm cakes (the sort of thing made for cats and dogs) to see if I wanted worming! My mother found out about this and she came and fetched me home, and then I was sent to Wales. We were taken up to Paddington Station and put on a train. At that time the bombing had started and I was being sent to Swansea. My sister, who was six years older than me (I was about ten) promised me sixpence if I didn’t cry at the station and then we went on this horrendous journey. Because so much had been bombed it took us 6-8 hours to get to Swansea, but at least I had earned my sixpence! My aunt met me there because she had been evacuated before. I couldn’t stay with her and I was billeted with a prison warder and his wife. They were very kind to me but they didn’t know anything about children at all, and the only thing I remember her doing was dressing my doll one Christmas as a Welsh doll, and then I suppose I was really very naughty. I was very unhappy and I got friendly with the people next door but one, and they took me in. I went back to their house recently, and although in my memory it was huge, in actual fact it was a very small one!
Then I went to school, just half a day each day and learnt to sew. We didn’t do any lessons — I just did sewing pieces of fabric and putting them together to make blankets. Eventually I came home when I was about fifteen or sixteen.

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