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Evacuation from Leeds

by dorothy williamson

Contributed by 
dorothy williamson
People in story: 
Dorothy Williamson
Location of story: 
Ilkley
Article ID: 
A1138727
Contributed on: 
08 August 2003

When war was declared on the 3rd of September 1939, plans were made for the evacuation to hopefully safe areas for schoolchildren. I remember being issued with a gas mask in a brown cardboard box, waiting outside school, with other children of various ages, for the bus to arrive, eventually to take us to Ilkley. The parents waited as checks were made, names taken, and also for the arrival of the bus. Two double deckers were considered enough for the children and necessary teachers.

When we arrived at our destination, everyone was taken to a church in Ilkley, given a welcome talk, and then we were shown round the building, including the cellars, which we were told would be the shelters, in the unlikely event of an air raid. We all told to wait in the church hall then allocated the family that would be our stepfamily, for as long as they were needed.

With my school friend Louie, the couple that were to care for us were a Miss Lena Hudson and her father. They owned a market garden at the end of Lister Street, where they lived. We were made welcome at once, and settled in quite well, given the circumstances. Living with a couple next door to the Hudsons was a young German, of roughly our age. I was never sure whether he was billeted with them, or adopted by them. Unfortunately possibly because of his nationality he was not very popular at school, although Louie and I were friendly with him.

The time passed reasonably well, strangely enough we were allowed home at weekends. One Friday night there was an air raid on Leeds. From our bedroom window Louie and I could see the searchlights in the distance, and a few bomb flashes. It was said later that it was possibly a lone plane, and the pilot was dropping his few remaining bombs before returning home. There was Thorpe Arch, a munitions factory on the outskirts of Leeds, which could have been aimed for.
At the end of the street where my Grandma lived, a fish and chip shop received a direct hit shattering the windows of the houses opposite. The morning after the raid, surprisingly enough, I was allowed to go home just for the day. The bus from Ilkley to Leeds did not have a problem until arriving at Hyde Park corner, where my brother was waiting to meet me. Owing to a suspected unexploded bomb on Woodhouse Moor, the driver had to miss his scheduled stop, and make a detour round to the University, where I was dropped off. I was the only passenger to alight at Hyde Park, and so had a lonely walk back to where a puzzled brother was waiting.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Dear Dorothy

Posted on: 27 September 2004 by Leeds Libraries

I must say this is like a dream come true, and to think that after all these years it is unbelievable. We did have some very happy times together in/on Ilkley Moor — bah tat.
Remember the school concert you were Eleanor and I was Edward and Mr Lloyd the headmaster of the boys said we spoke the loudest on stage.
When we were invited to those lovely big houses to parties and concerts we played our part so we could raise money for the church.

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