- Contributed by
- BBC Southern Counties Radio
- People in story:
- Ruth Tyler, Charles Stanley Hollis, Gwendoline Dora Hollis, Beatrice Clench, Roland Hollis, Dora Hollis
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 August 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from BBC Southern Counties on behalf of Ruth Tyler and has been added with her permission. Ruth Tyler fully understand the site's terms and conditions.
During the war, in late 1940 I was living at the family home with my mother in Croydon, along with my brother Charles, (my twin), and my sisters Gwendoline and Beatrice. I heard that I was to be evacuated, along with Roland and Beatrice. Charles and Gwendoline were not evacuated because Charles was working and Gwendoline was ill.
The day of our evacuation was a huge wrench. It was heartbreaking and we felt so tearful, leaving our mother at the train station to be taken by train and then by coach to a village in Somerset. Mrs Tite a teacher from our school in Croydon came with us on the train and she was our teacher at the school that we went to during the evacuation. It must have been a wrench for her too, leaving her home. I remember at the train station Beatrice and I were so despondent at having to leave. She was only six years old, and I was aged about ten.
We were evacuated together to Wambrook outside Chard in Somerset. On arrival at the train station, we were transported to a village hall along with lots of other evacuees, to be selected by people who were to take care of us. Adults came to the village hall and picked out evacuees, and took them off to their homes. The three of us were left till the last, and no one took us because they didn’t really want to take three children together. Because of this, we were paraded around the village until someone agreed to take us in. Beatrice and I were taken in by a lady called Beatrice Pidgeon and her husband George Pidgeon.
Mrs Pidgeon was quite an authoritarian person, but her husband George was more gentle. Their children had grown up and left home. People were not obliged to take evacuees in, but I suppose they felt guilty and this made them do it. Some people were more willing than others to help. It was up to everyone to do their bit.
My brother Roland was taken in by Mr and Mrs Pidgeon (junior) who owned a farm further up the road. Roland enjoyed his time on the farm and they were very good to him. I enjoyed playing on the farm with him and Beatrice. Mrs Pidgeon (senior) also owned a farm and we lived in the farm cottage.
Beatrice and I shared a double bed together, and Beatrice would whimper at night for our mother, but being the eldest, I had to keep my composure and be strong. Of course I pined for mother too, but I couldn’t let Beatrice see my cry. Eventually I got used to it, because I didn’t have any choice. We missed our mother so much. Our father had already died.
We went to school in the village. There were only 2 classes and the evacuees were segregated from the village children. We were never really accepted by the other children. We saw our brother Roland frequently as he went to the same school as us in the village. He was happy where he was. I remember he would feed the dog under the table when no-one was looking.
One day Roland, Beatrice and I bunked off school with George. We followed a fox hunt. Because we were with young George, we didn’t get into trouble!
Beatrice was delighted to be sent home after a year as she was so unhappy. A year after that I was sent home with Roland. By this time Mrs Pidgeon had become fond of me and didn’t want me to go home. She wanted me to go into service, but I didn’t want to. Mothers home by then was a village shop run by my grandfather Benjamin Kemball in Dormston, Worcester. My mother was working in the shop helping him.
It was very cramped in the house, but at least we were together again. It was strange being home at first. My mother and I found it hard to get on, but once our relationship improved, we were happy. The evacuation period was such an unhappy time in my life.
We were elated to be home.
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