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15 October 2014
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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Nita Luce nee Jenkins
Location of story: 
Gravesend, Norfolk, Yarmouth, High Wycombe.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 August 2005

This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Jas from Global Information Centre Eastbourne and has been added to the website on behalf of Mrs Luce with her permission and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions

My father, “Ted” Jenkins was a sergeant in the RAF and spent some time in Malta.

He was invalided out of the RAF at the end of the war, but on such a low pension (which he fought against the rest of his life until he died when compensation for his lost pension was awarded to my mother when she was in her 80s).

On Sunday 3rd September 1939 at the age of 4, I was evacuated with my sister Janice and our mother Beryl from Gravesend.

We went on the ship royal Daffodil to Norfolk. Most folk were sick except me. Everyone was afraid as we were told a submarine was about.

We spent the night in stables on the racecourse at Yarmouth. That night our blankets were taken and soaked in horse troughs to hang from the front of the stalls in case of a gas attack.

We were told to wear warm clothes but we eventually had a heat wave. We were billeted together with our aunt Bessie and her children at Worsted, in a large ancestral home in the servant’s quarters.

Our uncle Fred Barker came to visit us, later on and it was decided to return to Gravesend, as all was quiet. We returned home to Bligh road Gravesend but then the bombing started.

I recall seeing a doodlebug skimming the roofs of Stuart Road and being told by a policeman’ s son that it was a new type of bomb and to run for it. We shared an air raid shelter with our neighbors Mr and Mrs. Page but as they had installed a bed we had to huddle cramped beside it.

I cannot recall being frightened even during bad bombing raids but did develop a fear of the dark. I would not let them fit a gas mask on me, as I did not like anything fitted tightly over my face.

The youngest children had a Mickey Mouse type. We then went to stay on our uncle’ s farm at Flackwell Heath near High Wycombe.

They also owned the Stag Inn and I recall their milk being sold by the jug over the counter of the bar. We all had to help in the fields and my mother considered she was slave labour.

Elsie and Doris Waters lived in the area and my mother always considered they were not too kindly disposed towards their evacuees.

I can remember when we eventually returned home to Gravesend collecting jam jars and taking them somewhere on the promenade and how we had all lost our iron garden railings for the war effort.

Troops used to be billeted on the Old Main at the back of Bath Street, which was the winter quarters for, Forrests fun fair caravans at one time.

We used to play there after the war amongst the old huts etc left by the army.

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