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Our Evacuation from Leeds to Ilkley - Dorothy Williamson nee Threlfal

by Leeds Libraries

These are some photographs of me aged 10 standing with my sister in the back yard of Welton Place, Leeds . This was a couple of years before I was evacuated.

Contributed by 
Leeds Libraries
People in story: 
Dorothy Williamson nee Threlfal
Location of story: 
Leeds,Ilkley
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3161152
Contributed on: 
21 October 2004

When war was declared on the 3rd of September 1939, plans were made for the evacuation to hopefully safe areas for schoolchildren. I remember being issued with a gas mask in a brown cardboard box, waiting outside school, with other children of various ages, for the bus to arrive, eventually to take us to Ilkley. The parents waited as checks were made, names taken, and also for the arrival of the bus. Two double deckers were considered enough for the children and necessary teachers.

When we arrived at our destination, everyone was taken to a church in Ilkley, given a welcome talk, and then we were shown round the building, including the cellars, which we were told would be the shelters, in the unlikely event of an air raid. We all told to wait in the church hall then allocated the family that would be our stepfamily, for as long as they were needed.

With my school friend Louie, the couple that were to care for us were a Miss Lena Hudson and her father. They owned a market garden at the end of Lister Street, where they lived. We were made welcome at once, and settled in quite well, given the circumstances. Living with a couple next door to the Hudsons was a young German, of roughly our age. I was never sure whether he was billeted with them, or adopted by them. Unfortunately possibly because of his nationality he was not very popular at school, although Louie and I were friendly with him.

The time passed reasonably well, strangely enough we were allowed home at weekends. One Friday night there was an air raid on Leeds. From our bedroom window Louie and I could see the searchlights in the distance, and a few bomb flashes. It was said later that it was possibly a lone plane, and the pilot was dropping his few remaining bombs before returning home. There was Thorpe Arch, a munitions factory on the outskirts of Leeds, which could have been aimed for.
At the end of the street where my Grandma lived, a fish and chip shop received a direct hit shattering the windows of the houses opposite. The morning after the raid, surprisingly enough, I was allowed to go home just for the day. The bus from Ilkley to Leeds did not have a problem until arriving at Hyde Park corner, where my brother was waiting to meet me. Owing to a suspected unexploded bomb on Woodhouse Moor, the driver had to miss his scheduled stop, and make a detour round to the University, where I was dropped off. I was the only passenger to alight at Hyde Park, and so had a lonely walk back to where a puzzled brother was waiting.

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