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15 October 2014
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My Sanctuary, The Farm

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
William Casey, Brian Casey, Tom Moss, Charlie Moss, Mr and Mrs Moss
Location of story: 
Hanley, Stoke on Trent
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Stuart Marshall from Crawley Library and has been added to the website on behalf of William Casey with his permission and he fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was living just outside Hanley, Stoke on Trent as an evacuee with a small family in about 1941. I was about seven or eight at this time. I was very unhappy there because they didn’t really include me as part of the family. I had just had my appendix out and I was confined to a wheelchair temporarily.
I had not seen my older brother Brian for some time. He was also an evacuee in the same area. One day Brian came to see me, I think he had discovered my whereabouts by speaking to my mother. He could probably tell I was unhappy and still recovering from my operation. He asked me if I would like to go and live with him on a farm, which sounded quite romantic so I said yes.
I couldn’t walk, of course, so Brian picked me up and put me on his back and carried me to the farm. It seemed a long journey there but it was worth it.
The farm was small, more of a smallholding really at the edge of a moor. It had one cow, some pigs, two horses — Charlie and Dolly, chickens and a dog called Floss.
Mr and Mrs Moss owned the farm and their two sons, Tom and Charlie, helped to run it. I got a great welcome. From then on I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, I had complete freedom and I was very happy there. I was immediately accepted by the family and protected by Mrs Moss in particular. One time I was caught peeing on the open fire and putting it out but I was not admonished for this and I never did it again anyway.
One of our jobs was to go into Hanley with the horse and cart to pick up all the waste food from Woolworths and other shops. Brian and I would bring this back to the farm to use as pigswill. It was put into a large round pot with a fire underneath that never went out.
On one occasion there was an incident coming back from town. I would always sit on top of the pile of food as that was the only space and my brother would be in the seat. Suddenly Brian shouted: “Look! Free air!” pointing at a garage. So we stopped to fill up the tyres on the cart.
As Brian was doing this, one of the tyres exploded and Dolly, the horse, bolted. I was still sitting on top of the food and Brian was hanging on to the cart trying to stop it. I managed not to fall off and somehow the cart was stopped.
We limped back to the farm with the wrecked tyre and tipped some of the food into the big pot. Floss, the dog, was obviously starving and he jumped up onto the rim of and tried to pick bits out gingerly. Suddenly the dog had fallen in to the bubbling pot and was unable to get out. The farmer, Mr Moss, came to his rescue and managed to pull him out. He had lost a lot of his fur which never seemed to grow back but he was still alive when I left the farm.
Tom, the farmers’ youngest son was eighteen at the time and he was almost like a father figure to me. My brother Brian left the farm when he was old enough to work leaving me behind. Eventually both the sons, Tom and Charlie, were called up to fight and I was alone at the farm with Mr and Mrs Moss.
My mother visited us at the farm once and was concerned about the way we were living. She thought that it was a messy and chaotic place with the animals free to roam even in the kitchen.
Once Brian had returned to Dagenham, my mother decided to fetch me back home too. I was woken up by Mrs Moss and told that my mother was at the door and wanted to take me home. She told me to dress. It was only afterwards that I learnt about what had happened. Mrs Moss did not want me to leave and they argued about it. She eventually slammed the door in my mother’s face, trapping her coat so that she was unable to move until she banged on it.
It was only after threatening them with the police that they gave in and let me leave with my mother. She took me straight to Hanley where she brought me new clothes and threw away my old ones.
As a child of eight I was confused by the speed of my departure from the farm and it was only later in life that I felt a lot of sympathy for Mrs Moss. She was reluctant to see her last ‘son’ go.

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