- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Author. Elsie Brickley.Mr and Mrs Jenkins. Mrs Pugh
- Location of story:
- Uckfield Sussex and Cwmavon. South Wales
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 November 2004
After the bombing nearby in 1943 (See Dereks evacuation Part 1). Mother,decided that bringing the three of us up in Eastbourne,was too dangerous.She was born in the village of Nutley,24 Miles away and had several friends in that area.One of whom was Doris Turner who lived in Uckfield. Doris found us somewhere to stay near to her house.It was just a couple of rooms in an old villa,which already quartered Mrs Young and two children and the dreaded old Lady who lived in the attic.
Roy and I attended Holy Cross school,went visiting the Canadian soldiers billetted in the town,went to the pictures on Saturday afternoons,joined the boy scouts and probably relaxed, away from the Eastbourne front line.
D DAY exploded in our consciousness,when from the school playground we saw just abouit every aircraft that the RAF and the US Army A.F.possessed,or it seemed that way.The sky filled with Dakotas,tugging gliders,Lancasters,Liberators,Lightnings,Spitfires,Hurricanes and Flying Fortresses,all on their way we learned, to liberate Europe.The war would surely soon be over.
It was not so.
Just a few weeks later,a new sound from the sky,a warbling,gutteral,intimidating noise to scare everyone to bits. The V1 was launched on London and flight paths were over Sussex and Kent.They were as yet imperfect in design,so they could and did land anywhere,with their big payload of explosive.
Quite quickly,there was talk of: Evacuation.Surely,not again....Yes off we went. All Schoolchildren over 11 years old;To Wales.No fear of Doodlebugs there!
Another unmemorable Train journey via Bristol to disembark in Port Talbot,then to the nearby Village of CWMAVON.
Once more into a Church Hall to be selected by "Landladies" Towards the end of that long day Ron Hazeldene and I were some of the last to be chosen. Then we were picked up by a tough looking woman and taken to her cottage.Ron and I immediately took a dislike to the surroundings, the smell of Cabbage and did a bunk. We ran back the way we had come,leaving our belongings, when the "Lady" was off to get some shopping.
Arriving back at the Hall,everyone had vanished except for some Officials and two Welsh ladies. Mrs Jenkins and Mrs Pugh.We explained our misgivings,and were snapped up by them.They had thought they were unlucky.(They probably were!)
Ron and I lived in Lower Row. (Now demolished)I was with Mr and Mrs Jenkins,Ron next door with Mrs Pugh.The Jenkins had no children and were quite elderly,Mr J was a retired Miner from Pen y Craig,both were intensly religious and, it transpired,they made sure that I was too.Mr and Mrs Pugh had two sons,John and Alan,Mr Pugh was a fitter at Margam Steel works in Port Talbot.
That July, it was still school holidays,the sun seemed to shine every day,we caught the bus down to Aberavon and learned to swim off the beautiful golden sands,with The Mumbles in view over the Bay.It took a while for me to get used to my new home,they only had one bedroom,so I slept next door. The cottages looked the same,yet Mrs Pugh slept six and the kindly Mrs Jenkins two!
The food was very good,plenty of Cakes and home made Jams for tea and lava bread with breakfast,when there were any eggs and bacon.On Sundays, churchgoing was compulsory,not just once but twice.C of E in the morning and Chapel in the evening.Mr Jenkins was an elder of the Welsh congregation, women and children sat upstairs,looking down on the menfolk.The Welsh language of the service was totally unintelligible,but the music was lovely.I also had to go to Sunday School in the afternoon.The god fearing Welsh are quite a determined race.
During that endless hot summer I was allowed to go to the cinema occasionally,a favourite pastime in the 1940's.One evening, a small crowd of evacuees and local children,gathered outside, before the show.One local girl appeared to be quite taken with me.We sat together during the film and got quite close,I even put my arm around her shoulder! After the films,I said goodbye to her and made my way up the side of the valley to Lower Row.Several neighbours and Mr and Mrs J.were waiting outside their cottages.As I arrived Mr J,called me over and gave me a right dressing down. Apparently,someone had seen me and the young lady in the cinema and reported us to him. I was only eleven years old at the time,but this was no excuse,I was forbidden to visit the cinema for a week and told never ever to do this dreadful thing with a girl again!! Nor was I ever to visit the local Snooker Hall as it too, was not a good place for boyos.
However,it was soon back to School,where lessons from the local teachers were far better than those at the country School in Uckfield.As Autumn ended there was talk of us going home,could it be true?
In December 1944 with most of the V1 sites overun by the Allies,it was deemed safe to return to the seaside of Eastbourne.
On my return,I was met by my brothers,who found that to their ears,I spoke "funny".
Well I had learned some Welsh,The Lords Prayer and the Welsh National Anthem, so perhaps some had rubbed off.
Sixty years on I have nothing but affection for my Welsh sojourn,it was just a few months ,but full of Love and fond memories.
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