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15 October 2014
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The Joys of Wartime Travel

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Margaret Sherlock Dunkley
Location of story: 
A train journey from King's Cross to Hull
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5873538
Contributed on: 
23 September 2005

Throughout the war notices at bus and rail stations read, “Is your journey really necessary?” Civilians were not encouraged to travel. Nevertheless, during 1941 when I was serving as a nurse at St. George’s Hospital in London I needed to take a train to Hull to visit my sister who was seriously ill. My sister- in- law asked me to take her seven- year- old son, Christopher, as ordinary holidays were impossible. I met him and his mother at King’s Cross Station in good time for the train. We put our cases on two seats to book our places in the compartment, and then went to have a coffee. Twenty minutes before the train was due to leave we emerged from the café, only to see the train slowly receding away from us!

Christopher broke the horrified silence by commenting, “My sandwiches are on that train!” We protested to a guard and he agreed the train had left too soon, but said we should hurry to the next platform as that train was also going to Hull. We rushed round and there it was- every seat taken. People standing all along the corridors, in the individual compartments, and even in the toilets. I found a door open and pushed Christopher in front of me saying “I’m sorry, but we must get on!” Then I squeezed in myself and shut the door quickly.

Soon we were off on that tedious extraordinary journey. We stopped at so many stations that it took seven hours altogether. We stood the whole way with nothing to eat, and only one drink each. We watched the country go by, and Christopher found it very interesting. Indeed it may have been his first real train journey. After several hours of silence he suddenly said, “I’ve got some Maltesers in my pocket.” “Then bring them out for Heaven’s sake!” I said, and so we shared them out slowly. We arrived at last, safe and unharmed, but with no luggage. That went all round England, and came back to us four weeks later.

This story was entered on the People’s War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of Margaret Sherlock Dunkley. Margaret fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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