- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ann Stone, nee Jones, Christine Robertson, nee Jones
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 July 2005
My sister Christine and I were among the first children to be evacuated from London at the beginning of the Second World War. We all had to be given gas masks and were ordered to carry them at all times. Also we were allowed just one small pack which we had to carry on our backs with our immediate belongings. I was a small seven year old and I obviously couldn’t carry much. My sister was ten years old.
We were taken by train to Northampton along with thousands of other children on the first Sunday of the war. Miss Callow, one of our elderly teachers, accompanied us on the train and had to look after so many children, but she manages marvellously.
It was very late when we reached Northampton. Most of the host parents didn’t want two children, and as our parents requested that we were kept together, we were the last two to be allocated to parents. Oh! What a disaster. We were never happy for a long time after that.
The elderly couple that took us already had three daughters. Two were adult, but the youngest was a bit younger than Christine (9 years). We had to share her room, and she made it very clear that she hated us. Her mother, who we had to call Auntie Minnie, didn’t really want us either. She had only taken us as a last resort. Apparently, she only wanted one child to share with her daughter. As for Auntie Minnie, she can only be remembered as downright cruel. We had to share the school with the local children. This meant we only went to school mornings one week and afternoons the next.
The park in Northampton was the only thing there that was good. The bad part was that the winter was bitter, the worst I had ever encountered, and I actually cried with the pain of being so cold. Christine did her best to comfort me, but our clothing was so inadequate for the time of year, and we were both freezing.
On returning from school, we were made to sit on stools and either knit or read. On a dry day we were allowed to play for a short while in the yard or the loft above the garage. There was a flight of external wooden steps leading to the loft. One day, Christine fell on to the concrete from the top step. She was badly bruised, having hit her head and hands. Auntie Minnie was furious and instead of looking after her, promptly made her use her most painful hand to write and eat with.
One day I came home with a very upset stomach. When I got home, I couldn’t get in, and consequently soiled my pants. How I cried. I was still only seven, and that horrible woman would not let me inside the house until I had washed my clothes in a bucket of ice cold water. I think we cried ourselves to sleep every night.
We were allowed home at Easter 1940. Oh, what a blessed relief to be free of that evil woman’s clutches. I remember us both pleading and crying to be allowed to stay at home, and what joy when Mum said we could.
We then spent the rest of the war in London, but that’s another story.
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