- Contributed by
- People in story:
- WILLIAM SMITH
- Location of story:
- LONDON and BEDFORD
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 May 2005
This is my class at Gopsall St school,taken I think about 1936,our teacher was Miss Harris,I am standing 5 children away from Miss Harris.
My NAME IS Bill Smith.
I was born at 88 Fern St Bow East London on 23rd September 1931, my Sister Maudie was born there on 23rd January 1929.In 1933 we moved to 14 Wimbourne St Shoreditch where my brother Alfie was born in 1934,in 1935 we moved to 39 Bridport Place Shoreditch where my sister Sylvie was born,my mum and dads family lived quite close, my grandma and grandad lived in Hyde Rd, and my dads family lived on the other side of New North Rd in Bracklyn St,also it was very handy for my dad he drove a lorry for J Selleys a removal firm their yard was on the corner of Rushton St and Bridport Place about 50 yards from number 39,It was a different world then,nobody bothered the kids you could play in the street you knew what time to be home you went to school and you did as you were told,,alright we were poor,but there was always food on the table, and we were healthy, they were happy times.
we all knew there was going to be a war,all the mums and dads kept talking about it,and we used to watch the barrage ballons in the sky during the day,and at night the sky was filled with searchlights,we moved around quite a few times,after 39 Bridport Place,,, we moved to the other side of the road over the top of a fish shop, from there we moved to Myrtle St in Hoxton, then we moved to 39 Buckland St off St Johns St (later renamed Pitfield St) I went to Hoxton School during the last two moves.
later we were issued with Gas Masks from the gas company showrooms in the narrow way of Hoxton St then in August 1939 we changed schools to Crondall St my two cousins Johnny and 'Nooksie' came with us we thought that was strange as their school was St Monicas which was a Catholic school.
There were no lessons given to us, what happened was this, on our first day at Crondall St they gave every kid a brown carrier bag with a banana an orange and a bar of Cadburys chocolate,we were told to put the bag in our school desks along with our gas masks (which was in a cardboard box with string which we used to carry over our shoulder). We had to go to school every morning and stand at our desks a bell would sound and we had to pick up our carrier bag and our gas mask and then go to the side of the class room and form up in twos,then they would walk us out into the play ground where we would line up with the other classes the teachers would walk us once around the play ground and then take us back to the classroom where we had to put our carrier bag and gas mask back into our desk and then go home,,,well this went on for a couple of weeks then one day as we walked around the playground some one opened the gate and we all walked out into the street,,there on the other side of the road all the kids mums were lined up crying and waving goodbye to us my sister Maudie was crying I really did not know what was happening,as we went along the Rd we saw my uncle John (Nooksie and Johnnie's dad) he had gone to the paper shop and bought every comic there and was giving them to the kids as they walked past,nobody had told me or my brother what was going to happen we found out later that my mum had told my sister Maudie that we were being evacuated and to look after us that was why she was crying,we were walked to another school where we joined up with another crowd of kids someone tied labels to our coats with our name and address on then buses took us to St Pancras Station we all lined up on the platform a train came in and we were told to get on and someone told us we could eat our fruit and chocolate,, when we opened the bag the chocolate had melted and the fruit was all squashie (but we still ate it).There were no sell by dates then...
The train took us to Bedford Station and from there we went on to Ampthill Rd School
where we were given some food and drink,
then after a while we were walked along Ampthill Rd it seemed to me for quite a long way,until we came to a road which I think was called Eastville Rd we walked to the top of Eastville Rd to a Road which I think was called Southville Rd, by now it was getting dark,we were formed in a circle in the middle of the rd and people startes coming out of their houses and talking to each other and the teachers,,, all the while staring at us then all of a sudden an elderly lady who I now know as Mrs Neal took my brother Alfie he was told to go with her, then all the women started to pick the kid they wanted a lady took my sister and Nooksie until every one had gone and Johnnie and me were left standing in the middle of the road there was this women talking to the teachers we were told to go with her,she lived in a house at the end of Southville Rd, when we went in her husband was there and they told us we were going to live with them she said she was Auntie Lil and her husband was uncle Jim,,
I have to say they were lovely people,but we were too much for them can you imagine they were in their late 30s living on their own and we were two eight year old boys from East London who had come to live with them,I think we lasted about nine months which says a lot for uncle Jim and Auntie Lil,,,, Johnnie got up to some mischief and was sent back to London, I was given another billet, and Auntie Lil got Jaundice...
The billet I was sent to was in the centre of Bedford,No 4 Cauldwell Place with Mrs Hancock and her son Alfie who was a year older than me,, I grew up fast there but that is another story.
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