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15 October 2014
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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Joyce Bumstead
Location of story: 
Harpenden and Hastings
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4391309
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Wendy Wood of Hastings Community Learning Centre, a volunteer from BBC Southern Counties Radio on behalf of Joyce Bumstead and has been added to the site with his/her permission. Joyce Bumstead fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was a 10 year old living in Hastings in 1941 when my parents decided that myself my older brother age 14 and my two younger sisters 6 and 8 would be evacuated. I remember we had to meet at Clive Vale school to be taken to Harpenden in Hertfordshire. The big blue Skinners coach looked very exciting. I had never been on a coach before — what an adventure. We had labels on our coats with our names on. We had been on the coach only a short time when I was thinking I want my mum and dad but I had no choice.
When we arrived we were taken to a church hall. We had to sit on wooden benches, families came to choose a child to take home. My mother had said she would like the three sisters to stay together but no one wanted 3 little girls. My elder brother had no trouble being taken by a family but we were left. I felt very lonely and homesick. It was decided I would go to an old lady Miss Ealing who seemed about 90 years old! She lived down in a little cottage by the river Lea. I stayed with her for two years looking after her, cooking, washing her clothes and I also had to go to school. My room had a small bed a chair and a chamber pot under the bed. However despite all the hardship she was a lovely lady and I felt happy most of the time. In the meantime back in Hastings it was getting dangerous with the bombing. My parents evacuated to Bridgewater with my youngest brother aged 3. It was only a few weeks after they had left Hastings when our house in Albion Street Hastings was bombed to the ground. My father came back to Hastings to see the damage and what was not destroyed was looted. When my parents returned to set up a new home they were given £100 to buy furniture from Reeves in the old town. They were offered a house in Tin Town which got its name because its houses were made of steel (this area is now Fellows Road and Clement Hill). They were prefabs built after the 1914-18 war. They were like fridges in the winter and ovens in the summer but they were home to us when we returned to Hastings in 1943 and we were a family once again.

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