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A Brief History of a WW2 Evacuee

by Stanley Fowler

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Stanley Fowler
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Stanley Fowler
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12 November 2003

At about 9.00a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning in 1940, my Mum took my brother (11), my sister (7) and me (9) to Enfield Lock railway station. There we boarded a train with about a hundred other children. We had with us a small case for our clothes etc., our gas mask in a cardboard box hung around our necks, a pack of sandwiches and a bottle of lemonade. The train stopped at several local stations to pick up more children and then the journey north got started. After about five hours the train began stopping at small stations and some of the children taken off. Our turn came at Seaton station in the county of Rutland. A bus was waiting to take about 20 children to Barrowden, a beautiful village beside the River Welland.

Arriving at our destination we were taken into the village school where villagers were waiting to take us into their homes. My brother, sister and I were taken by Mr and Mrs Jenkins to their lovely big cottage with an acre of garden. A surprise we got was the toilet, which was 25 metres down the garden. It had a big wooden seat with two holes in it to accommodate two persons. I did not like going down there in the dark as there was no electricity so we had to light a candle when we went!

We were very lucky as Aunt and Uncle Jenkins (as we called them) showed us affection and took us to some of the historic towns and places of interest, and treated us as members of their family. Not all evacuees were treated nicely. Some who attended our village school from a neighbouring village told us they never had enough to eat, were not allowed out to play and others said they had been beaten.

It was strange at first being away from Mum and Dad and my home, but I got used to it. I liked the wide open spaces and the beautiful countryside. We used to play down at the old mill by the river and up in the woods, where in the spring masses of bluebells were to be found. Within about a ten-mile radius of us we had five aerodromes - four RAF and one American - all bomber stations. This was a very exciting time for a ten-year old to see the American planes flying out on daylight raids and the RAF on night raids. They would fly our in V formations and my friends and I counted as many as six squadrons (72 planes) flying from one aerodrome.

Mushrooms grew in a nearby field and at weekends we would pick some for our breakfast. The nearest train station was four miles away, there was a bus to the market town of Stamford twice a week - one on Wednesday and two on Saturday. If we happened to see a vehicle in the village it was an object of excitement for us children. To go to the cinema we had to walk 4.5 miles to Uppingham, so had a nine mile round trip. When not at school, I would sometimes help on Mr Skinner's farm, bringing in the cows and taking them back to the fields after milking, and I used to help collect the eggs and feed the chickens on another farm that had 5,000 free-range chickens. On Sundays some of the villagers would take their joints of meat to the village bakery to be cooked. The aroma coming from the bakery was delicious.

I have very fond memories of my 18 months as an evacuee in Barrowden and I have been back there several times, the last time in 1999 and found the village just as beautiful and peaceful as when I first arrived there.

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