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by ateamwar

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Joan Shannon
Location of story: 
Liverpool, Cheshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
16 August 2005


My first recollection of the evacuation was going down the steep steps at St Michael's Railway Station. I had a haversack with my clothing, a gas mask and a label on my coat, telling everyone who I was and what school I went to. The haversack also contained my favourite food at the time - Velveeta cheese in those little round boxes.

My next memory is being in a church or school hall, children being picked out by families who had agreed to take evacuees. I was chosen by quite a prominent family in Sandbach, a small town in Cheshire. they also chose another girl, the same age and size as me. After we were taken to their home I guess they decided we looked a lot alike and were promptly taken into town and they bought us look-a-like outfits. It was quite a cultural shock when I look back. Although the people were really good they did make fun of our Liverpool accents, which is cruel when you think of it - kids of 6 years of age being away from their families and familiar surroundings.

The man I was billeted with was a Wesleyan and every Sunday I was expected to go along with him and his four daughters to church. We always met the nun from our school, Sister Mary Joseph and she always smiled and said "Good Morning". Then when I got to school the next day, I got hell for not attending the Catholic Church. Another unfair burden for a 6 year old. How could I not go to the Wesleyan Church when all the rest of the family went.

School was a large hall and the children were split into groups. How anyone ever learned to read, write or do anything still amazes me, it was so unco-ordinated.

I used to look forward to visits from my family. I think they used to come up about once a month. These trips were arranged by North's Chip Shop on Cockburn Street (they lost a son in the Korean War).

I can remember going to bed at night and it seemed I cried for hours wishing I was back in Liverpool. I did go back after about 10 months, but it felt more like 10 years to me. It seemed I just got back in time for the air raids.

I can remember vividly the planes coming over. We never went into the shelter, but we would all congregate in one room or get under a table. Everyone seemed concerned about the kids. Next day after the raids, the kids would go out looking for shrapnel. Some days even in the daylight you could see dog fights in the sky. I can remember the sky lit up with eh buildings on fire downtown.

I can remember between classes ( by this time classes consisted of a couple of hours tuition in someone's parlour, about twice a week) going up to High Park Street with my mother to the local welfare offices where they posted a list each day of the people who had died when their houses were bombed in our district. Whole families were wiped out. We felt very lucky as although our family was actually involved in the war effort, we all survived.

I can remember tasting bananas for the first time in years and remember how all the adults saved their sweet coupons for the kids, especially at Christmas. I often think maybe that’s why I still have my own teeth because we couldn't buy sweets whenever we felt like it. I remember pear drops from Granny Beans on Below Street. You could smell those pear drops as mile away. I guess we were fed really well considering because I can't think of anything in -particular that we ate in those days. It seemed as if we were forever saving coupons for something or other, whether it was clothing or food.

I still correspond with the family I was billeted with in Sandbach. The mother and father died years after the war but I am still in touch with their daughter. We write to eachother every Christmas and Easter.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by BBC Radio Merseyside's People's War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his/her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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