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Evacuee story September 1st 1939

by Chepstow Drill Hall

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Chepstow Drill Hall
People in story: 
Peggy Jenkins
Location of story: 
Hillington
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4148345
Contributed on: 
03 June 2005

Because my parents thought that the countryside of Monmouthshire would be a less likely destination for German bombers than Glasgow it was decided, that I, Peggy Jenkins aged five and a half, should be sent to ‘Bryn Teg’ the house where my grandfather lived, with his son George Jenkins and daughters Alice Jenkins and Kate Martin. Also living in this happy household were Nick Martin, Kate’s husband and their two children, my cousins, Olwen aged 14 and Redvers, always known as Bill, who was 11 years old.

On Friday 1st September 1939 mum and I left Hillington by Green & Yellow Bus, Number 15 I think, to go to Glasgow Central Station which I remember was very busy.

Once we were settled in the compartment, 3rd class, with the other passengers the talking started. I only remember two of the other travellers although the compartment was full. Sitting next to me was a very young sailor who was going to Plymouth to join his first ship and sitting opposite was a catholic priest. My mother, a great talker soon discovered that the priest was going back to Ireland for two weeks retreat. He was looking forward to some fly-fishing. This mystified me at the time; most of my mother’s family were connected with the fishing industry in Fleetwood and travelling fishing with nets I understood, but fly-fishing? I didn’t have the courage to ask what fly-fishing meant.

The young sailor was probably about seventeen years old or maybe younger. He tried to amuse me by playing games like “ I spy” with me, I was not ready to play “I spy” so we played a “follow my actions” game. I had to mirror his actions I enjoyed playing this.

All was going well until the call came “first lunch” and the priest left the compartment to go down the corridor to the dining car. My mother had decided that we should go for the second lunch.

As soon as the priest was out of sight the sailor jumped up and got the priests hard boat shaped hat off the rack. He threw it about and twirled it, then he put it on at different angles. All this was suppose to amuse me but I was a timid wee girl and I was terrified that he would damage the hat, or that the priest would return and catch him playing the fool with the hat. Happily the hat was returned to the rack before the return of the owner.

The train seemed to stop a lot more than usual; when it stopped at a station there were often long evacuee trains on the other side of the platform. I can still see, in my mind, children crowding round the open windows of the doors holding mugs in outstretched hands, while ladies with huge gallon mugs walked the length of the train endeavouring to satisfy the children’s thirst.

At Crewe the priest left the train for his connection to Holyfield, the ferry terminal. Mother and I left the sailor as I think the train was going all the way to Plymouth, or maybe Bristol. We went up all those steps to cross over the G.W.R platform and wait for the Cardiff train. It was very full when it came. I don’t remember this part, no interesting characters on this train, perhaps like me, they were too tired.

I remember having some bread and homemade jam and going to bed on a feather bed. The only light in the bedroom was provided by two candles quite a change from the modern house I was used to!

I wonder if the priest stayed on in Ireland and did the young sailor ‘make it’ though the war I hope they did. He would be eighty four or five today.

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