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Children From The Big Town.

by derbycsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
derbycsv
People in story: 
Ida Dean (nee Buxton), Mr and Mrs Stone, Mr and Mrs Waller
Location of story: 
Derbyshire, UK.
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5016052
Contributed on: 
12 August 2005

This story was submitted to the Peopl'es War website by Louise Angell of the CSV Action Desk on behalf of Ida Dean. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

It was a difficult thing to have to do, to evacuatechildren at the onset of war, but mum and dad made that decision. We, their children, were to be evacuated as dad, who had been a professional soldier, had to enlist in the war. he was one of the first to go, and mum was due to have another baby - her 10th!

we had to report to traffic Street school on Sunday 3rd September, 1939, the first day of the war. We were all laughing as if we were going to Skeggy (Skegness), not realising it was for the long term, with gas masks, paper carriers of sleep wear etc. Nobody had extra clothesin those days. I think it ran to a new toothbrush each. what a novelty! Although I do not think we could aford the toothpaste.

No fuss, we just all got on the bus arriving later at Stanley Common, between Derby and Ilkeston. the light hurt our eyes as we alighted because the windows had been 'blue-ed' to stop the lights shining out at night time. We arrived looking like refugees rather than evacuees and were herded into the village school, ushered to a reception area and all handed a bag of goodies (the bag being bigger than the one with all our clothes in)... garibaldi biscuits etc. I had never heard of them before.

The kids started disappearing, one by one, my brothers and sisters hastily saying 'see you!' I was this one little kid, still only 7 years old, left all on my own in the building with the officials. it appears there had been a mix up. I had been booked with a family who had one son and wanted a boy for company for him so the chose a Jeffrey Walker instead. Hearing of my plight, mr and Mrs Stone, who had taken my sisters, Dorothea and Ena, and whom we were to call Auntie Bob and Auntie Elsie, felt sorry for me and let me go home with them.

My eldest brother, Bunty (Joe), and Derek went to stay with mr and mrs mellor and desmond and leslie went to stay with a Mr. and Mrs Oldknow. Seven of us, all from one family, our ages ranging from 3 to 12 years.

We all settled quite well. The village was lovelt, unspoilt, tranquil, green. everyone had a pride and joy garden and grew their own produce. it was the holiday we had never had. War was for adults not kids! We all made new friends, the villagers took to us, to make the best of the war effort. There was even a certificate to host families from the King and Queen with the royal crest on!

Mr and Mrs Waller, the school teachers, were excellent. Although they appeared to look stern on photographs, they were well respected in the community. Mrs Waller taught me to knit. I remember the girls all knitting babies' vests in ribbing, although I never got to finish. I became a good knitter thanks to her. Also, she taught me good writing skills. I still wince though, when I think of Mr. Waller. One day I was playing on some ladders lying on the playground. I had a lovely time jumping in in and out of the rungs, but going in after playtime I was called out to get the cane in front of everyone. Apparently we were supposed to have been warned not to go near the ladders. I could not have heard the warning. I saw the cane go up in the air, and at my tender age, felt it come down on the ends of my fingers. The pain on my fingertips will live with me forever.

I remember one day Dorothea and I were just playing about. I was balancing on a low wall, but it was sloped so my feet were awkwardly at an angle as I was walking along (my arms criss crossing above on some spiked railings). Suddenly my foot slipped, the weight of my body bearing down brought my left arm with it in one swift movement and onto the spiked tops of the railings, stuck. I could not move. I was impailed, one foot on the floor, the other hanging in mid air, my arm spurting blood. Only one thing for it - pull my arm up and off the railings - ouch! I rember slithering down to the ground and lookig at my arm. There were two spike marks either side of the crease in my inner arm, but they had gashed open so they almost met. Dorothea just stared at me, she had gone white as a ghost. She was very squeamish and could not stand the sight of blood. "You'll die, you'll die" she screamed at me. That made me feel wonderful! As I believed every word she said to me I really thought I was going to die. Would my arm drop off?

We ran as fast as we could, home. I was marched off to the doctors in Newdigate street. No-one had a car or a phone in those days hardly. The doctor got some think roll plaster, pulled the skin together with his fingers and said leave it on til the wound heals! But I didn;t get fussed over afterwards and I lived, but I still have those scars today.

Another incident which remains vivid in my mind concerned air-raids and the instructiion that if we heard one we were told to leave the school immediately with our gas masks and run home. On one of those days, the sirens went, my sister Ena joined me and we went running as fast as our little legs would carry us. Ena was really frightened as she was only four or five years old. Suddenly the elastic in my knickers snapped and they fell down round my ankles. She noticed this as I tried to retrieve tham. She shouted 'we can't stop, we're not allowed.' So I carried on struggling to keep up with her and nearly fell all my length.

Stanley Common was not developed then like it is today. it was a peaceful little hamlet; even smalley Common was treated as a divide and certain daily traditions were adhered to, especially Sundays; washing, ironing, baking had to be done on the proper days. I remember Mr. Binghams the barber, the bakery, Robinson's garage, the pub and a couple of shops. The bus every hour or so. The odd lorry or car passed through; anything in the garden was swapped: apples for pears or eggs etc. If you wanted a pear you just picked one off the tree. We fetched milk every morning in a jug from Oakley's farm opposite, for cornflakes. We had a bathroom, indoor toilet, hot and cold water, roses round the door, front garden, the rec with swings, playing marbles and snobs. We used to go down Stanley Lane, very quiet then, for an evening walk with a bunch of kids, listening to the birds. We were only 7 miles from Derby but we could have been on another planet! We even had the fairground people living in caravans in the field next to us. The government had put restrictions on all travellers etc, and they had to have a permanant place of abode. They were very friendly. They had children but I don't think they went to school in those days. They had built an air raid shelter for themselves, though, which we were allowed to use if necessary. They even had big bars of chocolate which they treated to us to every now and again.

I remember Mrs. Elliot, the other side of us. She was very nice. I used to shop for her groceries once a week at the Co-op, Newdigate Street corner, which to me then seemed a long way, especially with all the shopping.

I had my eighth birthday in early December and we were looking forward to Christmas, practising carols. I knew most of them as we all used to sing them round the fire when dad played his mandolin. A new one was When The Crimson Sun Had Set. Having lived in Derby town centre nd not having seen a sunset, then having seen one in the beautiful setting of the village, this was quite a moving carol for me.

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