- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Owen Stephen Barnard (now known as Steve), Brian Barnard
- Location of story:
- Kentish Town, London; Trethosa, Cornwall
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 May 2005
This story was entered by Coralie, Storygatherer, on behalf of Owen Barnard.
Kentish Town, London
My first recollection of the war was walking along Grafton Terrace to the market with my mother. We heard what we thought were explosions, and my mother thought we were being bombed. She asked the ARP warden what it was and he said that there was no air-raid at the moment. It was late 1939 and I was six at the time.
Not long after this, my brother, Brian, who was four years old, and I were taken by our father to a Victorian school in Kentish Town very early in the morning. He spoke to a lady there, said 'goodbye' and left us. We didn't know what was happening: I thought I was being taken away for being naughty but my brother thought we were going on holiday because there were a lot of other children there. We had no belongings with us at all except a gas mask, of course. A lady came and put labels on us both with our names on them and told us to sit down and be good. We were taken to Paddington Station and put on a train. I was very frightened because we had no idea where we were going.
Late afternoon, having only had biscuits on the train, as far as I remember, we arrived at St Austell station. We were transported from there to Trethosa school. Lots of local people were there and 'chose' the children they would house until we were the only two left. We were then walked round from house to house and to out-of-way farms and anywhere people had not taken children previously. It was getting dark when we went to the house of an elderly lady who was putting the chickens away. By this time my feet were bleeding from walking so far.
She agreed to take us until somewhere else was found for us, but we were still there in 1945, six years later.
The lady was called Mrs Pascoe, and the first thing she did was to put us in a tin bath in front of the fire. We had a good meal and she put us to bed. We slept so long that we had missed breakfast and it was nearly dinnertime. She took us down after dinner, a lovely roast, to the WVS where people had donated a lot of clothes for all ages. We were both rigged out completely with clothes - I particularly remember the hobnail boots - and Mrs Pascoe burnt the clothes we had come in.
We went to school, but only part-time as the school was too small to hold all the extra children. Trethosa Chapel Sunday School was used in addition and a teacher, Mr England was sent down from London to teach us. He was our teacher and I remember him very clearly.
Each year we had a school sports day in the field next to the Sunday School and had sack races and all the other usual races. We had refreshments of large yeast buns and home-made lemonade. It was lovely and everyone tried to get a second glass.
Mrs Pascoe was very religious, and strict, and taught us manners and we had to behave ourselves. We had to go to Sunday School every Sunday afternoon and then she took us to Chapel every Sunday evening as well. I still have the Methodist School Hymnal that I was presented with in 1943 for good attendance.
We were given chores to do and had to help out finding eggs and so on. At harvest-time everyone helped each other out so we had great fun and it was like a holiday. We helped with the sheaves of corn and gathering up potatoes when they were ploughed up. The farmer's wife brought us tea and hot pasties for lunch.
We were very happy there and for the first time had a double bed for the two of us and a room to ourselves. At home we had slept head-to-tail as there were seven of us. At Trethosa we had lovely fresh food from the garden and our own chickens and eggs and Mr Pascoe supplemented the meat ration with rabbits that he shot.
After all these years, I am still in touch with Mrs Pascoe's relations and neighbours' families and visited regularly every year, once I had a job. I felt that the Pascoes were more my family than my own family.
I can remember a big bomb being brought to our school on a trailer from St Mawgan or St Evel. They were selling National Savings Stamps and we stuck them all over the bomb which we were told was to be dropped over Germany the same night.
I also remember seeing Truro from a distance when a German plane was being chased by a Spitfire from Plymouth direction and it dropped its' bombs over the city.
I remember well the Americans being all round the area before 'D' Day, in the fields and everywhere. We used to go and ask them 'Have you got any gum, chum?' and were given gum and sweets which we hadn't had for years. They were there one evening and the next day they were gone and we heard they had gone to Utah Beach.
Kentish Town, London.
In 1945 we were sent back home having not heard from our mother or father for the whole six years, although we had written to them regularly. We were sent back to the same school we had left from and a strange man appeared and said 'come on you two'. We didn't recognise each other but it was our father. He took us home to the same conditions we had left.
We came home not able to read or write well due to the short hours of schooling in Cornwall, but we had been very happy there.
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