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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
ICT Suite@Goldsmiths Community Centre
People in story: 
Jean Christofides
Location of story: 
Yorkshire and South Wales
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A2696510
Contributed on: 
03 June 2004

At the start of the last war I was enjoying a summer break with Mum and Dad and my younger brother and sister. We were staying with Aunt Hilda (mum's sister who had married a farmer) and there we were having a great time 'helping' on the farm. I remember Dad saying "You must all stay on here for a while and see how things go!"

Our extended holiday went on for almost 1 year, and we were starting to feel the need for solid pavements under our feet again instead of the green pastures and rolling hills.

No sooner had we returned to London than we were off again to somewhere we knew not where, as the were evacuating the children.

I vividly remember the feeling of excitement as my brother and I with our gas masks and ID tags waited on the station platform for the train to whisk us off to Devon or Scotland? However, it turned out to be neither of these places, instead we had been transported to somewhere in South Wales. In fact a small mining village near Maesteg in the Rhonda valley. The family I was placed with was a Mr and Mrs Richards, and I have very happy memories of my time with them. He worked in the pit and it was amazing to see him return home, absolutely black, as there were no showers at the pit head in those days. Neither did the couple have a bathroom in their small terraced house.

Therefore, Mr Richards had to bath in a wooden tub in the kitchen, and so did I (not at the same time!) which was something I will never forget. Mrs Richards baked her own bread and cakes, and these were taken to the communal bakehouse to be cooked - delicious!

Mr Richards was very fond of music and played the accordion and musical saw. I remember he tried to teach me how to play the accordion.

My brother was placed with another family, therefore I did not see him very often. One day I was walking in the street and caught a glimpse of him on the other side of the road. I was horrified by what I saw, there was my brother looking very dirty and scruffy. I took him home and gave him a good wash, and then sat down to write a letter to Mum and tell her how concerned I was. She travelled down almost immediately and took my brother back home with her. I continued to stay with my wartime family for a year and I have very happy memories of my time in that Welsh village.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Working Through War Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
London Category
South East Wales Category
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