- Contributed by
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- Eileen Bennett Cowperthwaite
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- Contributed on:
- 11 August 2005
When we first arrived in Winsford with our teachers, there was no room in their schools, so we were given a hall —Armstrong Hall, as I recall — to use. Our teachers looked after us, but after a short while lots, of the children went back home, as did our teachers. Those of us that were left shared the schools, one week we used the school in the morning the next week we had it for the afternoons. When we were not at school, we were taken for walks in the country. Very soon there were only two of us left at our school, so we were able to be with the Winsford children, till I was the only one left.
I remember getting a shoe box filled with presents, from Canada, and also some Lord from Liverpool gave money so that every evacuee in Winsford had a present, we could choose what we wanted, then we wrote and thanked him. I was also given a warm winter dress from the W.V.S.
People were urged to save, and I remember going to neighbours houses, on a Monday morning, to collect their money to buy Savings Stamps, which I took to them after school. We had Penny Saving Stamps, a card held 12 stamps which was changed for 2 Sixpenny stamps, we had books for them. When you had saved 15/- (fifteen shillings) worth you could buy a Saving Certificate, or if you wanted to withdraw money you took your book to the Post Office. People gave me money sometimes, so I saved mine till I had enough to buy some wool with and knit my own vests, gloves and pixie hoods. We were taught to knit at school. We took an old knitted jumper or pullover into school, where one week we washed it, then we unravelled it, wound it round our school peg and re-knit it.
I remember the street concerts my friends and I gave, the money we collected we took into school to be given to the Red Cross. We used to practise on the Bowling Green in the rec, with permission of course; the park keeper lived next door to me. The park keeper’s wife used to take in washing, and sometimes I helped to carry the washing basket back to her customer. One day my Aunt came to see me, and Mr Latham, the park keeper, picked her a big bunch of flowers from the park, to take back to Liverpool. My two brothers, 7 and 11 years, lived a long way from me, and in the early days when Mum could visit us, she came to see me first, being the nearest to the only station, then went to see my brothers. My brother picked Mum a bunch of Bull Rushes from the ocean (pond really) and she took them home and put then in water. The next morning when she came downstairs they had all burst, and she said it looked as though there had been a pillow fight, what a mess. We hadn’t seen bull rushes before. Mind you, most of the evacuees had not seen cows or pigs before either. We were taken to see the farms and animals and watched them being milked and fed. I remember riding on a hay-cart and playing in the barn. I remember half of the fields in the park being taken over to grow vegetables in. “Dig for Victory”. I remember helping to take all unwanted books and papers out into the middle of the street for collection by the Council for recycling. I remember being a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade, aged 11 years. I wore a black and white checked dress and white angora beret when I went on parade. We carried a little shoulder bag with a First Aid Kit in it, to be used in an air raid. I remember when my foster mum promised to get me a sister when the refugees came from the Channel Isles. When I got home from Sunday school I found I had 2 brothers, Leonard and Ronnie, who were brothers from Guernsey, aged 7 & 11. I am in touch with Len, Ronnie died, and I still belong to the family that looked after me 65 years ago. Jennifer was born in 1940; her mum was my foster sister and got married while I lived there. She has sisters and brothers. Jennifer rings me often. I often went back to Winsford. I was there when war was declared in 1939 and also when it ended (on holiday).
I remember when the Yanks arrived in the village; they were stationed behind my foster sister’s house, at the bottom of the hill. They saw us children sitting on the hill, and the cook waved us down and asked if we liked peaches and Custard (something we never got). He gave us a dish each and told us to come the next day, at the same time and bring some basins and bowls with us, which we did. We sat on the hill and the cooked banged on a large tin tray and we all slid down the hill, where he filled all our basins and bowls with Fruit and Custard which we took home for our families.
I remember a train full of Bananas being stranded, as a bomb had dropped on the line, and my foster brothers bringing home a sackful. We had bananas for a week, with milk, on bread, with custard, we really did go Bananas, again they were scarce. I can remember the war days, evacuation and after the war with the rationing (I worked in a Grocery shop). I do talk to my local school every year and they are so interested. It was not until 1989 when I was asked to go back to my old school in Winsford, 50 years after, that a child asked me ‘what it was like to be an evacuee’. I could feel myself filling up as I answered ‘it was the saddest and the happiest days of my life’.
I have so many memories. I have written a poem about how I imagined my Mum felt when she came home after waving goodbye to me and my two brothers. There was no counselling then. We were away for 4 years, my mum lost everything in the May Blitz, we lived in Thetis Street behind Kirkdale Station. My mum and my young brother were evacuated to Wales where my youngest brother was born.
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