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My Mum's Diary as an Evacuee Aged Sixteen Part 1

by Irene Hilda Hill

Contributed by 
Irene Hilda Hill
People in story: 
Irene Hilda Hill
Location of story: 
Blaenau Festiniog, North Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 January 2005

Mum aged sixteen

Miss Irene Hill

During the Second Great War Diary 1939

Thursday 31st August

Went to school. 12. 30 am. Wireless - got to know of evacuation next day. Started packing but uncertain whether to go or not.

Friday 1st September

Finished packing and went to see Miss Howells. She persuaded me to go. Set out at 12.30am. Reached Blaenau Festiniog at 6.35pm. The whole town turned out to welcome us!

Saturday 2nd September

Went walking down high street. Plenty of boys around. Went to Pictures at Empire to see ‘Men with Wings’. Did not like it. Met two territorials and asked them what the black ties at the back were for. They said they were in memory of the old Welsh women who used to wear pigtails. I liked one of them very much. Met two others in a shop doorway when it was raining.

Sunday 3rd September

Sick. Went walk in afternoon. At 11am Britain at war with Germany. France at 5pm.

Monday 4th September

Reported to school 9.30am. Thirty six German planes brought down by Poles. Eleven Polish planes by Germans. British Ship ‘Athenia’ bombed by Germans. Mostly Americans aboard. Most saved. Germans driven back by the Poles. France advancing and bombing Germany

Tuesday 5th September

Went on a ramble with Froggie and Mrs. Williams, Mrs Jones and girls. Rowed on lake. Saw Max. I like him. Mary told me his name is Albert Maxwell and he comes from Manchester. He has been adopted by his aunt. She has promised to get me a date with him. (I hope). British planes drop 6,000,000 leaflets on Germany.

Thursday 7th September

Saw ‘The Frog’. Went for walk with Lorna, Beryl and Betty. Saw Max in railway uniform. Met several times that night. I do like him. I’ve got a date with him for 6.30pm Friday night and Lorna has one with his friend.

Friday 8th September

Went for damsons with Lorna, Beryl; and Betty

Saturday 9th September

Did cardigan in park in afternoon. Went to pictures with Lorna and Trevor & Meirion Jones. Saw ‘Strange Borders’ with Tom Wells. Went walk down the valley afterwards. (held hands). I like Trevor but not the other guy. Max is still my favourite. I hear he is going to Derby on Monday with his job. He works on the railway. I wish he were not going! Home 10.30!

Tuesday 12th September

Went to Valley to knit with Lorna. Len Owen and Elywn Thomas came to sit by us. Lorna likes Len and I like Elywn. He will be seventeen in January. Went for a walk at night with them through the slate Quarry. Len started cutting slates!

Thursday 14th September

Started school. Terribly cold in school. Elwyn and Len stand by the station at 12 o’clock to see us. Also at 2pm. Met them at night and went a little walk with them. Took us home and made a date for Friday at 6pm. I like Elwyn tremendously. (‘Quelle heure est-il?’)

Saturday 16th September

Did knitting in park with Lorna in afternoon. Went to pictures with Mary in evening to see’ Old Mother Riley in Paris’. A daft picture!

Sunday 17th September

Gran came to see me. Brought me some clothes and books etc. She missed the charabanc home and will have to stay till tomorrow. I telephoned!

Monday 18th September

Gran went home at 10am. Went out at night with Elwyn, Lorna and Len. We divided into twos. I was with Elwyn! (he put his arm round me) I like Elwyn very much.

Tuesday 19th September

Saw Elwyn again. Four of us went for walk round valley. As we neared the top of the valley he tried to kiss me but I would not let him. We were behind Len and Lorna.

Thursday 21st September

The four of us went out again, after watching Len play football (a draw 2 all). We had our arms round each other. Elwyn and I were in front this time so he did not try to kiss me.

Saturday 23rd September

Got a cold. Went walk round valley with Lorna in morning. Stayed in afternoon. Should have gone for a bath but did not want to because of cold. Bought cough sweets. Fell out with Elwyn and Len because they were not there to meet us.

Monday 25th September

Lorna goes home from school. She’s got tonsillitis! Still haven’t seen Elwyn.

Tuesday 26th September

Lorna got note from Len. Elwyn is going out with Lillian Saunders. (Hang her!) Len makes it up with Lorna. I see Elwyn and say ‘Hello!’

Wednesday 27th September

Notes exchanged between Lorna and Len. I’m the winner! Met Elwyn and Len and some other boys and that so-and-so Lillian and another girl. Later saw Len and Elwyn and stopped Len to give him Lorna’s note. He asked me if I was coming out. I said ‘I suppose so’. He said ’Shall I bring Elwyn on Friday?’ I said ‘Don’t ask me!’ I can’t make Elwyn out at all but I still like him very much. Lorna feeling much better.

Thursday 28th September

Lorna feeling worse. Can’t get up till Sat or Sunday so the date for Friday is off! She sent Len a note telling him and I told her to put in it that ‘it was up to Elwyn whether he came or not’ Len was to write back and let us know. She made the date for Sunday.
Its Billie’s birthday today and I forgot to send him a card. He is seven years old.

Saturday 30th September

Lorna’s birthday! She got my card and I gave her a needle case. Met Elwyn and Len at night and Mary told Elwyn something which he resented. Elwyn was coming out with me tomorrow night but Mary said ‘Elwyn will go with you until he gets tired, so you pay him back in his own coin! Elwyn did not like it.

Monday 2nd October

Elwyn and Cyril both wanted to come but Cyril came. (I wish with all my heart that Elwyn would come back to me) We separated tonight and I went with Cyril. He is quite a nice boy but I kept thinking of darling Elwyn! Cyril made a date with me for tomorrow night. (6.30pm at top of valley) I don’t want to go. I want Elwyn! Elwyn!”

Tuesday 3rd October

Lorna and I go to meet Len and Cyril. Len annoys me. He told Cyril to put his arm round me and he did. I did not want him to!

Saturday 14th October

I’m looking forward to seeing Pop and Aunt Lu tomorrow. Lorna received letter to say her mother and father and Howard and uncle were coming tomorrow in her uncle’s van.

Sunday 15th October

Did not go to Chapel in morning but met Pop and Aunt Lu. Dad bought me a new skirt for my birthday. A lovely bottle-green one with a flared skirt. Aunt Lu bought me some brown leather gauntlets. Norah sent me some chocolate and her mother sent me a shilling.
Went to chapel at night with M.

Monday 16th October

Harvest Thanksgiving! A holiday from school. Went to chapel three times. Told off for giggling. Told not to come again but I went! Did not see Elwyn all day.

Saturday 4th November

Saw Elwyn at night in street and in Woolworths. I bought toothbrush. Elwyn wore his blue pullover. I love him I think but Lorna and I were thick and ran out of Woolworth’s. I think if we had waited, Elwyn would have taken me to the pics because I went with Mary to Forum afterwards and he was there with Gwyllem. Met ‘Si si Senorita’. Alias Jack? And another boy I met at Whist drive. Asked for date and after much argument, we said we’d go to pics on Monday night 5.30pm with them but I don’t want to go. I only want Elwyn! Two other boys asked us for dates in the afternoon but we refused!

Sunday 5th November

Bonfire night! (But no bonfires!) Could not go out tonight because of the rain (dash it!) I did want to see Elwyn! I’ve heard he has a lovely home and everything is perfect in it. I can quite believe it because he looks such a nice decent boy, well turned out!

Saturday 11th

Armistice Day. For the first time I did not observe the two minutes silence because no hooters were sounded and no one stopped. Saw Elwyn! Another row with Mary. I asked her if she wanted to get rid of me! She was not so bad afterwards.

Saturday 18th November

Late for school again at County for biology in morning.. Went to Empire at night with Mary. Saw ‘What a Woman!’ with Melvyn Douglas and Virginia Bruce. Very good! Before we went to Empire, we saw Elwyn and his friend ‘George Formby’ with two girls from our school, Beryl Holmes and Joyce Clayton! We followed them down the road to make sure it was them.

Sunday 19th

Went to Presbyterian Chapel in morning and Church of England at night. Both good services but I can’t follow the latter. Nor can Lorna. David Jones attends the Church of England. Hilda Halsey told me some weeks ago that he is crazy about me and I’ve just found out who he is. I like him very much indeed. He kept winking at me all through the service and pointing to the door and saying ‘outside’. I’m not so hot on Elwyn but still I like him. As a matter of fact I think he is a bit of a flirt! Lorna likes Davey Jones too.

Monday 20th

Delighted because we can go home for Christmas if we like! Oh! boy! I love Elwyn and everybody today! Saw him going to school.

Tuesday 21st November

Most miserable day I’ve ever known! Lorna gets letter from home saying she may stay home for good when she goes home at Christmas. I hope not because it will be terrible without her! Saw Elwyn several times going to and from school. It is his fortnight off. They work a fortnight in a month now because trade is bad in quarries. I dislike Beryl Homes and Joyce Clayton very much but I like Lillian Saunders and her friend. They were in detention with Lorna and I last night and they were jolly good sports. I entirely ignored Elwyn today but I answered his ‘hello Irene’ tonight. Lorna and I both very bad-tempered and irritable. I’m sure Elwyn and his friend were waiting for Beryl Holmes and Joyce Clayton coming from Confirmation class. I hope he had a long wait!

Saturday 25th November

Went to pics at night with Mary to Empire. Saw ‘Bulldog Drummond’ Jolly good. Went first house and Elwyn and ‘George Formby’ came to sit behind us. I do like him so much but I never even said’ hello’ to him! Rained like the dickens!!!

Thursday 15th December

Learned that fare to go home would be fifteen shillings so had to write home for more money.

Friday 15th

Tried at G.W.R station to get half fare and succeeding in passing as under 14!

Saturday 16th December

Our school party but did not go. Went to Woolworth’s shopping with Mary. Saw Elwyn, passed him. Oh! He’s marvellous. Then we went to town and he was there! Oh boy! He shone his torch on us coming down the street but did not speak. Oh, I love him!

Monday 18th December

Packing up in school and home ready for going home for Christmas. Excited! Got presents too.

Tuesday 19th December

Up at 6.15am. Caught 7.15am train. Goodbyes! Landed at Woodside at 12 noon. Met by Aunt Beck, Billy and Ronnie. Bustling around all day. Missing Elwyn. Saw Norah!

Monday 25th December Christmas Day

Took wreath to my mother’s grave in the morning. Went walk with Norah in afternoon and evening. Quite a nice day but quiet.

Monday New Year’s day January 1st 1940

Went over to Aunt Ev’s. Plaza in afternoon with Aunt Ev and family. Saw Deanna Durbin in ‘Smart Girls grow up’. V.G.

Wednesday 3rd January

Returned home although it was very foggy and hard to cross the river. Had to wait about twenty minute for a boat.

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