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My Ireland Home

by CSV Solent

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Solent
People in story: 
Rosemary Cook (nee Bates)
Location of story: 
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Article ID: 
A4155121
Contributed on: 
05 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from CSV Solent on behalf of Rosemary Cook and has been added to the site with her permission. Rosemary Cook fully understands the site's terms amd conditions.

I was born in 1931, the elder of twins, with a younger brother Peter. We, the children of Charles Donald, who was in the Territorial Army as the war started (when he was working as a publicity officer for Pathe Pictures) and Gladys Elizabeth Bates (nee Wilson) who was a doctor, a graduate from Queen's University Belfast and who worked at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin, during the "Troubled Times" to gain the needed experience in the delivery of children.

In 1939 we were building sandcastles and bathing in the freezing, stone-clad bays of Ballycastle with my maternal grandparents and staying in rented summer holiday accommodation, when my mother told me that the war would come and we three children were to stay safely with Granny and Grandpa while she went to be a doctor in London, as all the male doctors were being called up.

During the Blitz, she was emerging from a bombed-out underground shelter, where she had been tending to the dying and the dead. to be met by a sergeant who told her to comb her hair as the King and Queen were at the entrance to greet them all!

My father sent us pocket money postal orders, even when he was returning as part of the Dunkirk retreat. I remember that all his letters were heavily censored.

As the Belfast bombing started, we went to Cushendall, County Antrim, without our grandfather, who remained in business in Belfast, but with our grandmother. We saw army patrols on every headland.

One day, with the local lads and lasses and the other "evacuees", we decided to climb a hill called "Fairy Hill" and try to rouse the fairies. This we did by shouting like banshees. The whole populace thought that the Germans had landed and a full-scale Police and Army Defence Squad, complete with all the weapons they had, surrounded us. We were sent to bed wihout supper and were in disgrace for many, many weeks!

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