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Evacuated to Newark

by Terryvardy

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Miss Cobain
Location of story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 November 2003

This story is by Miss Cobain

I was 12 years old when the war broke out. I remember hearing Chamberlain's announcement that we were at war with Germany. At that age I knew what was going on was serious but didn't understand what would be involved.
My parents had received a letter advising that children should be evacuated - not compulsary but advisable. Most people, however, allowed their children to go.
Everyone was issued with a gas mask which had to be carried at all times. For me, as achild, this was difficult, I had to go to Owler Lane Methodist church schoolroom to be fitte for it. It had to fit properly or I wouldn't be able to see out.
I was evacuated to Newark which we all thought was a bit of an adventure. We had our name labels pinned to our coats and we were all given a bar of chocolate. We had to change trains at Retford then when we arrived at Newark we all had to stand in a row while the people who we were allocated to walked down the line to chose which of us they wanted. Two of us were chosen by a man who came with a car, we thought we were in luck! But it turned out he was a policeman and it wasn't his car, so the rides we were looking forward to never materialised.
I wasn't happy with the couple who'd chosen me. They had had the choice of either child evacuees or soldiers billeted on them and as they were newly married chose not to have soldiers. I remember always being hungry.
I had been at grammar school at home and now had to go to Newark grammar school we were not welcomed - treated like orphans I suppose.
On the day I arrived in Newark the lady of the house sent me to the local shop for some Keatings Powder. I didn't know what this was but when I got it and read the label I found it was to kill fleas and was to be used in my bed - this upset me. The next Saturday I told my mother and, of course, she was angry.
We found we were living very close to Grantham Aerodrome which didn't bother me at the time but it later occured to me that this wasn't a very good place to be. Also the road I was on was Bankroft Road just off a very busy road so there was nowhere for us to walk - no parks near so we went for walks through a nearby cemetery and read names on gravestone for interest. There was also a small factory nearby called Ransome and Marles.
On Saturdays, Mr Becket who lived near my family in Sheffield and had a motor coach business, used to bring parents to Newark to see us.
Time went on - we were sent to bed early every night and I wasn't used to going to bed at 7 o'clock. There was a programme on the radio - Bandwagon with Arthur Askey which we weren't allowed to listen to - we'd been sent to bed. I began to get home sick!
THEN I got toothache! The following Saturday Mother had to tell the lady we were with that I must see a dentist. An appointment was made. It was a big house I was sent to, a very imposing place. The dentist must have been well over six feet tall - he looked down at me and frightened me to death! All he seemed to be concerned about was how was this little evacuee going to pay him! I stood there with raging tooth ache while they haggled about money. I did finaly get the tooth out.
My heart sank when my mother brought all my winter clothes - it was now September and it occured to me that I was to be there for Christmas! After a few weeks, however, my parents decided that I would be better off at home so that the family could all be together - whatever happened. Perhaps if my parents could have seen I was happy there, they would have left me.
At home four houses shared two air raid shelters so we were sharing with our next door neighbours which meant seven of us in one air raid shelter with wooden bunks to lie on. At the start of the war the siren would go and it would be a false alarm but never the less we'd all get dressed and trooped down to the shelter only to hear the all clear.
I couldn't go back to my school because it was being used for wounded soldiers so we had to find out where I was going to go to school.
Apparently the school authorities had asked people if they would provide rooms in their houses for children to be taught in I think I went to one of these houses on Bellhouse Road 2 or 3 times a week - not every day but was given a lot of home work. I thought I was supposed to do this on the day I was given it not realising it was for the days I couldn't go for lessons. I'm not sure how long this went on for but we did eventualy go back to the old grammar school.
I remember being asked why I'd come home and innocently replied "because I was always hungry" The whole class laughed.
I remember one night while we were in the air raid shelter a land mine dropped on Bolsover Road and we thought it might be our house because it was such a loud explosion - that was December 1940.
The next morning my sister and I walked right into town, we saw bomb damage all the way along, they had all been incediaries, the first thing we saw was Burngreave methodist church - with its roof open to the sky - just the walls standing. Then all through the Wicker and up into High Street and down the Moor we couldn't believe the damage we saw. Tram cars burned out, just their shells left. Not a single shop had been missed.
There was, of course the blackout so that no lights showed.
Men who were not volunteer fire fighters or ARP had to volunteer for firewatch. My father had to go to Hindhouse Lane where there was an automatic telephone exchange. He had to keep watch all night and report any fires.
There were ration books. Most things were rationed, milk and bread were not but practically everything else was. The meat ration per person per week was eight ounces!! My mother had an awfull job providing meals for us some days. One day she found out that the butcher was to get some rabbits - they weren't rationed but she had to queue for over an hour. Sweets and clothes were rationed and we had cloting coupons.
We all had identity cards, I can still remember my number.
The other thing I remember well was listening to the radio a lot, there was a man who defected to Germany - William Joyce, nicknamed Lord Hawhaw who broadcast propaganda from Germany.
My sister joined the ATS.
Throughout the whole country there was a great community spirit and Winston Churchihill's speeches inspired everybody

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