- Contributed by
- People in story:
- June Leonard (nee Poole); Hazel Poole; Billy Poole; William James Poole
- Location of story:
- Bisso, Truro and Bristol
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 May 2005
This story was submitted by Daniel Howarth, a volunteer on behalf of Radio Bristol Action Desk at City of Bristol College.
I was seven when the war started, my brother was five and my sister four. Our father, Mr William James Poole, was in the Territorial Army before the war, so he was one of the first to be called up when the war started. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corp (RAMC). He was evacuated from Dunkirk and served in North Africa in the 8th Army, and went up through Europe, ending in Belgium. He served until the war finished. He learnt to drive while in the army and instead of coming back as a drayman at George's Brewery, he became a driver. He was born 1908 and died aged 74 in 1982.
In 1940, my mother was pregnant and had kidney problems. She had to go into hospital. As a result, we were evacuated to Cornwall in late 1940. I can remember going to Cheddar Grove school, at Bedminster Down, with my brother and sister. My mother was crying as we got on the bus that took us to Bristol Temple Meads train station. I was only eight, but felt I had to look after my brother and sister.
It seemed to take a long time on the train until we arrived at Truro station. I can remember going into a hall of some sort and being given food. People came and chose who they wanted to take away. I asked for us all to remain together but this didn't happen. I went to live with my sister, Hazel, and my brother, Billy, stayed near by, just up the road from where we were in a small village called Bisso, near Truro, Cornwall. Our cottage was called Bonny Doone.
Two spinster sisters looked after us. They had elderly parents who we used to refer to as Granny and Grandad. The mother had one leg. We were made to wash the mother and comb her hair, as she had fleas, which we didn't like. The hair went down to her waist, and we had to plait it as well.
There were two other evacuees from London in the house. One was called Gladys. We fell into a routine. We started school almost immediately. The school was tiny, and we had to walk about 3 miles to it each day. We were given a Cornish pastie each day for lunch, which the school teacher put on the heater in the middle of the classroom. There was only one teacher in the entire school.
My brother stayed with Mr and Mrs Johnson. He wet his bed on his first night and was made to wash his sheets out the next morning. He was only seven, and had to stand on a stool to reach the sink. The house generated its own electricity through a propeller powering a car dynamo which charged batteries.
The first night we were evacuated there was an air raid. We had to get out of bed and walk to a cave in the village. All the villagers went there when the siren was sounded. The cave was large and dark, and frightening to us, so we held hands.
The toilet to the cottage was an outside toilet down a path, and it was an Earth Closet - a piece of board with a hole in. There was a bucket of sand in the bedroom in case of an incendary bomb.
We were fed and clothed very well, and always kept clean. They made Seedy cake, which we didn't like and fed to the dog without them knowing! I can remember we had some presents given to us from the Americans. I had a ball and my sister had a doll.
Our cottage was near swampy ground, and lots of weeds grew there. Near by, an old gentlemen lived in a hut and made roses out of the reeds, which were quite beautiful.
Grandad used to take us out on his motorbike. He was very nice, and gave his both a bracelet each - my sister had a silver one, and I a gold one. My father sent us presents of lovely books at Christmas.
We had to go to Church twice a day on Sunday. The Church was about two miles away. There were several air raids while we were down there and we were made to push the old lady in her wheelchair to the cave.
I wrote to my mother and grandmother every week. We were in Bisso for eleven months until my mother was better, and moved back when her health improved.
On the day we left to go home, the family packed our belongings, left for the day and made us wait all day outside the locked cottage for our parents to collect us. It rained that day. They took back all our presents, including those sent by our father, although we didn't realise this until we returned back to Bristol. However, we visited the family years later and were welcomed.
My brother did not enjoy his time in Bisso, and was constantly fighting with the son of the family, who was the same age. He later did two years national service in Southend.
The baby that my mother was expecting died during pregnancy.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.