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15 October 2014
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War & Evacuation (Clayhidon, Devon)

by ActionBristol

Contributed by 
ActionBristol
People in story: 
Glenys Blissett (nee Wicks)
Location of story: 
Bristol
Article ID: 
A4023046
Contributed on: 
07 May 2005

I attended Barton Hill Junior Girls' School, and my brother David went to the Boys' School. The war broke out in September 1939, a month before my eighth birthday. We had an Anderson shelter in our garden made of corrugated iron, half submerged in the ground. German airplanes were soon bombing Bristol.

When the raids started we would have to go to the shelter which was fitted with bunks. Our neighbours across the road did not have a shelter and would come into ours, mother, two daughters and one of their husbands. The walls used to run with condensation and I can still remember the dank smell.

My father was a railwayman so was not called up. I can remember him taking my brother David and me down to the Bristol Bridge area one morning after one major raid, probably this was in November 1940, there was a scene of devastation and the firemen were still putting out the fires.

One Sunday my mother took David and me to Charlton Street Gospel Hall for the six o'clock service. The sirens went and we could soon hear the sound of enemy aircraft (the engines had a different sound to ours) and bombs dropping. We were told we had to stay there but my mother said, "If we are going to go we will all go together" and we left. It was probably a ten to fifteen minute walk home, along Lawrence Hill uip Dcie Road to Weston Street, all the time the wardens were swearing at us and the air was full of burning paper and smoke. We got back home and joined my father in the shelter.

Because of the raids, towards the end of 1040 or early 1941 at the age of nine I was taken with many other children, carrying our gas masks etc to Lawrence Hill Railway Stati8on to be evacuated. My brother was to gave gone with me but he was ill at the time. On arriving at, I believe it was Taunton I was taken by car to the village of Clayhidon, which was in Devon, nine miles from Taunton, just over the Somerset border. I can remember being driven by car along a country lane and arriving outrside a red bridk house up ionb a high bank, surrounded by a large garden. Mr & Mrs Redwood, who had a poultry farm, owen the house. They had one daugther, Dorothy, who worked on the land and was engaged to a famer's son named Roy Culverwell.

I was very happy there. I had to walk a mile and a half to school through the country lanes, there were other children who lived not far away and we walked together. I had been a very sickly child in Bristol and was anaemic. I used to have to go to Tower Hill Clinic for "sun-ray treatment". In later years, Uncle, as I called Mr Redwood told me he had said to his wife "she will never get there" but I did and did not have a day's illness in my 18 month stay.

Later on my brother David was evacuated to St Austell in Caronwall but he was only six years old and did not have a good home. The couple who took him in were childess and not used to children. They took in another boy who was 12 and used to tell Davied ghost stories. My parents were to visit after a few months and took him home with them.

In Devon we had plenty of food to eat as there were chickens and rabbits and everyone grew lots of vegetables. Some times a farmer killed a pig and we had baconb and pork. I remember watching a pig being killed in a farmyard, hearing it squeal and seeing all the blood. It did not bother me at all I just accepted it as a fact of life.

I enjoyed running around the fields, the haymaking and the cutting of the corn when I was allowed to sit on the tractor and go around the fields. I well remember the Culverwell's stone-built farmhouse which was very old with a huge ingle-nook fireplace and large rooms. Even then it seemed ancient to me. I remember reading the "Farmers Weekly". When it was time to cut the corn they would have an old threshing machine in the yard.

We would pick mushrooms in the fields, wild strawberries and blackberries from the hedges, which were also full of wild violets and pick campion. In September we would pick cobnuts from the hazel trees. Sometimes I would go out in to one of the fields in the dusk and watch the wild rabbits coming out to play.

We had no electricity, just old lamps, candles and torches. Of course there was no TV but we had a radio which was powered by rechargeable batteries. We did not have it on except for the news and one or two programmes as the batteries did not last long and a man would come around in a van to deliver a recharged battery and take away the run down one. On Sundays we would walk to church which was a mile and a half away.

I can remember one night being called down stairs to look north at the glow in the sky and being told it was Bristol burning. Also, an aircraft crashed somewhere in the area and I used to go around the fields and hedges picking up pieces of metal from the crash.

Another time a bullock escaped into a field owned by the Redwoods, several people tried to catch it. I was at the bottom of the field and the bullock had been caught, some were sitting on it before tying it up. It threw them off and ran towards me. I tried to head it off and there were shouts of “get out of the way". I leapt on top of a small henhouse, I suppose it was about one a half meters high and I don’t know how I managed it, the bullock, which of course was terrified, ran on into the wire fence.

I really enjoyed my stay and was there for about a year and a half.

After returning to Bristol I used to go to Clayhidon in the summer holiday for about two weeks for several years and I am still in touch with Dorothy, Mr & Mrs Redwood's daughter.

I came back to Bristol because I was almost old enough to take the 11 plus exam and if I had been accepted in the school I would have had to move to Wellington which was four miles away and leave Mr & Mrs Redwood. I was eventually accepted at East Bristol Commercial School where I learned shorthand, typing and bookkeeping.

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