- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Florence Christie, Monica Withers
- Location of story:
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- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 July 2005
This story has been added to The People's War Website by CSV Volunteer, Ann Toomey, on behalf of the author, Florence Christie, who understandS the site's terms and conditions.
In 1939 I was at Truro County School. One of the jobs we had to do was to cut up brown paper tape to stick over the hundreds of tiny windows at the school.
Several evacuees arrived at school, Monica Withers from Bristol, others from London, plus some who had relatives living in Cornwall. As time went by there was a deluge, West Ham High School, Stoke Dameral High School, Plymouth and other famous public schools. Hundreds followed mostly from the Eastend of London - tiny children down to three years of age. The schools were kept separate and taught at different times with the evacuees usualy getting the classrooms and the locals getting taught in the corridors etc. I especially remember the kind smiling face of Dr. Barnet (Burnit) of West Ham High School. School lunches were very good, supplemented by food that was rationed.
Our School adopted a ship, HMS Weston - named after Agnes Weston,who was the Florence Nightingale to Sailors. We used to send mitts, scarves etc, and wrote to the sailors. Later on an Officer and rating came to school and brought us bananas. He gave to the school two busts, of carved ebony, a man and a woman, I think they went to Richard Lander School.
The evacuees from London were brought down on trains, when it was announced that a train was arriving everyone went up to the railway station, this was more out of curiosity than kindness. The WVS arranged homes for them. Many of the children were not very clean and had nits, these spread throughout the schools and had to be treated.
There was also a group of German Jewesses, young and very clever, who lived in a large house in Perranporth. All the children had
lovely curly hair.
One day in the summer about twelve of us, under the supervision of the Mistress - Olive Lambert - went to the beach in South Cornwall and picked a special bright green sea weed, which after being sterilised, was sent away to aid the healing of wounded soldiers.
There was double summer time so we had nice
long evenings when we occasionally used to go for bicycle rides when we had time in between doing hours of homework. Other entertainment was going to the cinema - I remember going to the Plaza in Lemon Street and seeing George Formby. They served tea in the interval and there was a restaurant upstairs. Films were morale boosters - only news was the Pathe News. In the Cathedral Messiah was performed by 1000 young people it was wonderful for everyone.
There was a canteen at the bottom of Lemon Street, my mother was one of a team organised by WVS to look after this. I was 11 years old and cleared the tables after school. It was always very busy chiefly with soldiers. The lady helpers came from all the womens organisations including the churches.
There was a shortage of food in the towns and in the city, but in the countryside there was a little more food and sometimes they would kill a pig for meat. Prices were very high. We had plenty of apples but no bananas, oranges or pears. When my father was home on leave he would go to the Salvation Army and get one bar of chocolate.
Bombs were dropped on the Royal Cornwall Infirmary - a nurse was killed her name was Appleby and she is buried in Kenwyn Cemetery. Many more were injured. At that time there were German POW patients in the hospital. Apparently the stack of the furnace of the hospital was thought by the enemy to be a munitions factory.
There was a whole new vocabulary - words such as shrapnel, evacuation, evacuees, bombardment, duration, rations, barrage balloons, black out.
When there was a raid on Plymouth you could see in the sky the terrible angry glow of the City burning.
When the Spitfires shot down a Luftwaffe plane they would do a victory roll.
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