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by Surrey History Centre

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Surrey History Centre
People in story: 
Elsa Laverick (nee Bone)
Location of story: 
Hove and Chertsey
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site at Surrey History Centre on behalf of Mrs Elsa Laverick (nee Bone). It has been added to the site with the author's permission, and she fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Suddenly the War was coming closer and closer. My school, St Saviours and St Olave's Grammar School for Girls in the New Kent Road, was evacuated to Hove.

Prior to leaving we had to report to school each day with our small cases ready packed. We were organised in to mixed age groups ready to leave. We entertained ourselves by singing Brownie and Girl Guides songs and reading poetry.

One of my friends, Pamela Kirk Mills, who now lives in new Zealand, has written a book about the evacuation of our school, called Orphan of the Storm. I am mentioned in the book on page 4, where she describes the day when I dressed up as a charwoman with a dishcloth round my head and sang in true cockney style "My bieby'as fell down the plug 'ole" as if I was in a Music Hall show.

I was billetted with a young couple in Portslade just outside Hove. We were given lessons at the Hove County School for Boys. No fraternising was permitted between the boys and the girls, which did not stop some of them meeting after school. The young couple I was billetted with were keen Baptist Church goers. Every Sunday after the school service, I went with them to their family lunch in Brighton and to their church service.

The family were so good to me. They encouraged me to join the Portslade Sea Rangers, and the lady's mother knitted me a jumper for my uniform.

While we were in Hove, we witnessed the troops returning after the evacuation of Dunkirk.

After a while the school was re-evacuated because the Germans were getting nearer and nearer to Britain and it was necessary to move the children further from the coast. We moved from Hove to Chertsey, where our school was based in Pyrcroft House. I was there for only a weeks before I was old enough to leave school and take up a career in nursing and start my training at St Olave's Hospital in Rotherhithe.

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