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15 October 2014
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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Mary Lallem
Location of story: 
Ramsgate, Derbyshire, Uttoxeter
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

The author of this story has understood the rules and regulations of this site and has agreed that this story can be entered on the People’s War web site.

I remember my first air raid, and the declaration of war. I was in bed with Asthma at the time mother told me about it. Not long after, we had our first air raid, my mother took me down to the air raid shelter in the garden, of course I thought it was great fun at the time. Then the next night, when I went to bed, I said “I hope we get another air raid tonight”. Mother didn’t agree. I lived at Ramsgate, our school was closed and my cousin, who was 10, taught five of us in her front room for a few months, I was seven at the time. We were evacuated on June 2nd 1940, and as we went through a very large railway station entrance, they were bringing through the soldiers from Dunkirk. And, as I wanted to be a nurse, and was later on, I found the blood stained bandages most entertaining. I was evacuated to Ellaston in Derbyshire, it took all day to get there. We had a 3 class Church School that took us from 5 through to 12, with a big boiler in the middle of the main hall. I got so much more allergic they thought I had TB — they had me declared “delicate” and moved me to another billet after a few months. A shame really as it meant I had to leave behind my pet lamb. The vicar at Uttoxeter got me in with one of his cleaning ladies, who I liked very much. I lived with her for all but four years, three years of which I spent at the church school there, the fourth at the high school. Then I had to be transferred to Stafford, to the Ramsgate School. We used to have Mondays off, went to school on Saturday, and we shared schools with the Stafford High School, and the requisitioned Boys School and we had to carry our books to-and-fro every day. I had the meanest foster parents, no proper mattress, bitterly cold (I could hardly walk some times). Went home to Uttoxeter every weekend, and she never sent one food coupon to my “aunt”. Came home to Ramsgate December 14th, with a black eye.
Our bungalow had been bombed in August 1940, so my mother had been put into a council house, until it was rebuilt in 1947.
We were away for four and a half years, apart from the last two big school holidays (that’s 1943-’44) when we came home for 6-7 weeks, and the V1’s and V2’s and shells from France fell all round us. And I lived to go back.
I remember VJ day I had learnt to ride a cycle. Everything of mine had been in storage in an old school until then. So mother and I, on that day, cycled over to Broadstairs.

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