- Contributed by
- BBC Radio Norfolk Action Desk
- People in story:
- Derek Doug Barnaby, Ron Barnaby
- Location of story:
- Butlin's Holiday Camp Lytham-St-Annes, Blackpool, Wadeford, Aylsham, North Walsham
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 July 2005
This contribution to WW2 People’s War was received by the Action Desk at BBC Radio Norfolk. The story has been written and submitted to the website by Rosalie Davis Gibb (Volunteer Story Gatherer) with the full permission and on behalf of Derek Doug Barnaby.
I was 12 and my brother Ron 8 when we were evacuated in September 1939 to a schoolmaster’s house in Aylsham, Norfolk, then to Mr Coward, a butcher in North Walsham. We liked him and his wife better. The previous couple looked down on London evacuees. Mr Coward took us to watch him slaughtering pigs and cows and we always had plenty to eat.
One day our parents, who’d been sent to Wadeford in Somerset, collected us. My father worked for Dennings, farm machinery engineers. When I was 15 my father got me a job in the Drawing Office. I hated office work, which caused conflicts between us, so at 17 I volunteered to join the Navy but was not taken on, so volunteered for the Submarine Service, but you had to be 21.
When I reached 17½ we had a real row, so I said I’d join the army — dad replied ‘you haven’t got the guts’!! Next morning I went to Bristol, took a test, a medical, then the oath, was given six shillings and told I would be called within a month. I was and told my parents that the next morning I was joining the Army. They were dumbfounded. I left home about 7 o’clock to catch a train to Lytham-St-Annes, Lancashire. I was met by shouts and orders from Army Sergeants, marched off with hundreds of others to Butlin’s Holiday Camp, issued with a kitbag full of clothes and shown the chalet I would live in with several other unknown quantities.
Suddenly shouts of ‘Lights out’ then darkness. I threw everything aside and soon fell sleep. We were awakened by shouts of ‘Rise and Shine, hands off cocks, pull on socks’ accompanied by batons being banged on bunks and bedclothes being strewn on the floor. Hurriedly I put on the denims, adjusting them as best as I could. I was 4ft 11¾ tall and these were made for someone about 6 ft.
We were marched to a breakfast of bacon, beans and tea. More shouting and the hell began. DRILL, INNOCULATIONS, INSPECTIONS, HUT CLEANING, ROUTE MARCHES, PHYSICAL TRAINING — I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, jumping in a trance to constant shouting, swearing and orders. Then we were issued uniforms, taken to the tailors to be fitted for alterations, then the dentist. We were told we wouldn’t be allowed out until we had learnt to walk properly. Our only respite was a night in the NAAFI. To my relief VE Day was declared. We were allowed past the gates of the camp and into the fleshpots of Lytham-St-Annes and Blackpool! We made full use of the pubs and any entertainment going. I can’t elucidate on what we did, but I woke up on Blackpool beach next morning with an ATS Private each side of me. I was late back to Camp which resulted in attending company Orders, got seven days confined to Camp, after which I couldn’t look a spud in the eye!
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