- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Felicia Riley
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- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 November 2003
When WW2 broke out I was nearly 10, my sisters were nearly 4 and 8 respectively my brother was 16 months old and my mother was 8 months pregnant with my youngest sister. My father was immediately called up into the RAF. My abiding memory of those early weeks of war was my mother sobbing bitterly, which I realised later was due to not having any money. In those days one relied on the weekly wage, and I think it was some time before payments for families of men in the forces reached their dependants. My parents made a decision that we would not be evacuated, but by the second week in September 1940 with the Battle of Britain raging overhead, constantly having to spend cramped nights in the Anderson shelter they decided that the three eldest should be.
evacuated. On the day of departure a bus went round Welling, Kent, gathering up a few children in each school. We went to London, then to Peterborough, ending up in the parish hall of Tansor, Nr. Oundle. The very kindly rector welcomed us with sweets and the ladies of the village took us off to their homes, by this time we were exhausted and miserable.
My sisters & I stayed with an elderly couple who had a large detached house standing in it's own grounds, with a 2 seater privy in the garden and next to a farmyard.
The first months of our evacuation were difficult as not only were we living with strangers, whose routine was different from ours, we didn't know any of the other evacuees as they had come from different schools. Also we had grown used to the constant noise of planes overhead with continuous anti-aircraftfire and the sky lit up with searchlights. In Tansor if there was no moon it was very dark and a lot of strange noises came from the farmyard next door. We went to the village school., but didn't have much opportunity to mix with the village children. The teacher, Miss Kaye was immensely kind and would often have us to tea at her house in Oundle.
Our parents were quite strict but it was a different type of routine to which we had to get accustomed which we found quite difficult. I think I started all my sentences with "My mummy" either does or lets me do, which must have been extremely irritating.
Reverend Lake and his wife had 2 evacuee girls from another school in Welling and we often went to the vicarage to play. The rectory had a very large garden and they kept chickens. Snakes were a problem as the railway line was quite close and one or two of the village boys used to get pocket money for catching snakes. I remember one day at the Rectory being quite surprised when the rector grabbed a hoe and chopped off the head of a snake about to go down into the cellar.
After a year at our first billet we split up, Pat went to a family in the village, Joyce went to the manor and I went to a temporary billet for a few weeks, I rember this billet for the Cos lettuce and white currants they grew in their garden, and the amount of children's books available for me to read.After this I joined Joyce at the Manor where we lived in the servant's wing (which was larger than our modern terraced house at home) and were looked after by the cook and landgirl. This was a wonderful time for us we had the run of the grounds and the farm and were very much left to our own devices and, of course, there was no shortage of milk, cream and butter. At Christmas we were invited into the main part of the house to see the tree and decorations.
In 1942 Mrs. Cummins the cook wrote to my mother to let her know she was leaving the manor. Mother came to collect us and take us home, which we found exceedingly small after the grandeur of the manor.
Through Friend's reunited I have recently made contact with two of the village children who I remembered and was sent a copy of the Tansor Millenium book.I am hoping that one day I will be able to make contact with some of the other evacuees.
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