- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Doris Pinner
- Location of story:
- Farnham and Newcastle
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 23 May 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from Swindon College on behalf of Doris Pinner and has been added to the site with her permission. Doris fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I was 10 years old when war broke out and lived in Farnham in Surrey. What I remember most is that at the beginning of the war we didn’t have normal schooling. We had to go to school every morning and get the homework off our class teacher, and then come home to do it. We took the homework to school the next morning and got the homework for that day. This went on for quite a long while.
I remember the evacuees arriving from London one day. They all carried a small case, their gas masks and each child had a label with their name on his/her coat. I still have that mental picture of these children being walked up the lane from the station with some adults, stopping at each house to see if children could be billeted there. Some people didn’t want evacuee children to stay with them, but if you had a spare room or rooms in your house, you had to have children to stay.
We were very lucky in our road because there was an old tunnel at the end of the road. It was massive. Enough space for all the families in our road to stay. We had beds there, primer stoves to make drinks and cook on — all the children thought it was wonderful and we had great fun. There was a very strong community spirit, we did our own entertainment, we sang songs, played board games and of course we kept radios down there for the adults to try and listen to.
My father was a Geordie and in 1941 he had to go back to Tyne and Wear to work in the pits. This was considered to be essential war work. The Ministry of labour paid to move our home to what seemed the other end of the country. My father went first so he could find us somewhere to live and some weeks later the rest of the family. Mum, three children, the cat and the dog, and as much personal luggage as we could carry — we all went by train. We took food and flasks of hot drinks. We left Farnham at 9am and it was the most terrifying journey ever for me. It was a steam train and every time there was an air raid, the train had to stop. This happened so many times. If there were any German planes near, the train wasn’t allowed to pull into a station because the Germans would then be able to locate the station and bomb it. The most frightening experience was near Newcastle. The train stopped on the River Tyne bridge, all I could see was this enormous drop and water below us. The noise of the planes was deafening and we knew bombs were being dropped. It seemed we were just waiting for the bomb to hit our train. What seemed like hours later the train was eventally allowed to go into Wallsend station at 2am.
At first life in our new home seemed very strange. I had never seen back-to-back houses. Down in Farnham we had left a house with a garden to play in. Now we were living in a flat. The school was very different too but eventually we all settled down.
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