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- WILLIAM SMITH
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- Contributed on:
- 08 May 2005
This is a photo of my dads unit in France in 1940,I believe he was taken prisoner soon after this picture was taken.He is at the back second from right.
Auntie Lil Uncle Jim were very kind to Johnny and me,we did not know just how lucky we were,I know a bit more about life now and I respect what they tried to do,and I thank them for it.
When we arrived at our billet uncle Jim and auntie Lil washed us and gave us supper,then asked us if we would like to go to bed,we were shattered and really did not know where we were,we were quite happy to go to bed they took us upstairs to the bedroom where a double mattress had been laid on the floor with nice bed covers we just climbed in and fell asleep... I believe the reason we slept on the floor was they were only expecting one evacuee and only had one single bed.
The next day we got up had breakfast and asked if we could go out they said it was ok but not to get lost,, the usual stuff, the realisation of what had happened was beginning to sink in we had been taken away from London and our families,,,we were not sure about when we were going home or if we ever were going home,we walked back the way the teachers had brought us and came to Ampthill Rd and started to walk back to the school,as we walked along a lorry with the words 'The London Brick Company' on the side drove past, that word London made our minds up,,the lorry was going to London all we had to do was keep walking in that direction and we would come to London,, after a while we decided to go back to Southville Rd and find out how the others were getting on, we found Maudie and Nooksie's billet they were with an elderly couple who were nice to us they gave us sweets and a drink and then we all went to find Alfie He was living with MrMrs Neal at the other end of Southville Rd we were not invited in and Mrs Neal told us that Alfie was going out with them,after that they they did their best to keep Alfie away from us,I have to say they loved Alfie he stayed with them until the end of the war
and in their eyes he was their son,their real son(his name was Stanley) was in the army,and I think Alfie took his place.
Along the back gardens of Southville Rd was the Peake Freans Biscuit Factory and their sports field, in between the sports field and the back gardens was a railway line that you had to cross to get to the field The line was quite safe to cross the trains only came along two or three times a day and you could see them coming for miles away,all in all things did'nt seem so bad.
On our first Sunday at Bedford Johnny and me went for a walk along Ampthill Rd on a corner of one of the streets was a small church as we looked in a lady came out and asked us if we wanted the sunday school we did'nt but we said yes and she took us to the side door and spoke to a young girl who took us in and there we sang hymns played some games and had some lemonade then we went home, we told auntie Lil where we had been and she was not very pleased she told us when we went to church we must wear our best clothes,,, we did'nt know we had any best clothes.... Not long after that we were playing in the sports field when uncle Jim came over and told us someone had come to see us, we all went back and there indoors was my dad and uncle John they had brought Johnny and me a new jacket and trousers,,our best clothes were here...
That was the last time I saw my dad until June 1945,,soon after he came to see us someone gave him a white feather he went straight out and volunteered,,that was in October1939 in May 1940 he was captured by the Germans in France...Can you imagine he was 38 years old he had a wife 4 kids from the age of three to eleven and he goes and joins the army,soon after that Maudie and Nooksie went back to London Johnny Alfie and me were on our own although we still did'nt see much of Alfie.
Well things were going alright in Bedford,we had been enrolled at Ampthill Rd school,we had two teachers who had been sent from London Miss Kettle and Miss Guppy, Miss Kettle was about Fortyish she was a formidable woman,you did not want to upset her,she was not very tall quite plump always dressed in green or brown Harris Tweed,and always wore a little pork pie hat, Miss Guppy was different altogether a young woman in her mid twenties very tall and gangley always wore a floral dress with a cardigan over her shoulders never wore shoes only sandals always smiling today she would be described as a hippy....
One day as we were walking home from school we stopped to look at one of the front gardens,we had not seen many gardens in London and the plants in this garden we had never seen before they had silver leaves,as we leaned over the wall an old lady came out and started to talk to us she asked us if we were evacuees we said we were, well she said you must come to one of my tea parties I have a party every week for the evacuees and you are invited,we could not believe our luck,,she said every one had to sing a song or tell a story or recite a poem, and my Jackie will sing god save the King,,, Her Jackie was a little Jack Russell terrier that was playing in the garden by her side, we said thanks very much and arranged to be at the party next week, we could'nt wait to hear Jackie sing the national anthem.Well on the day of the party we arrived with about five other kids all about the same age as us, we were all talking about hearing a dog sing,we all had a glass of lemonade a teacake and a plate of cold rice pudding with nutmeg that tasted really nice, now for the entertainment,,, I had been rehearsing a poem all week and I was word perfect Johnny sang a song and all the other kids did their bit now it was Jackies turn,we all sat on the floor in a circle the old lady stepped in the middle with Jackie who was told to sit on the floor she held a piece of cake over his head and started to sing god save the king as she was singing Jackie was whining in tune with her,then we all clapped Jackie got his piece of cake and we all played games until it was time to go, as we left the house we all stood in a circle and all said together "that dog can't sing"...
I remember our Christmas with auntie Lil and Uncle Jim we were told to make a list of presents we would like for Father Christmas to bring us, we were told if we were good boys he would bring them on Christmas Eve,,,well we knew all about Father Christmas but we never said anything,on Christmas Eve we were bathed and went to bed early our bed was still on the floor by the door,,, we lay still for what seemed like hours hardly talking,then we heard uncle Jim creeping up the stairs,he must have thought we were sound asleep he put the presents down really quietly and then crept out of the room,he had not reached the bottom of the stairs before we were out of the bed and ripping the paper off the presents,we both had a box of chocolates, they went in no time, the rest of the night we played with the toys, uncle Jim and auntie Lil must have heard the noise we were making but never ever said anything.
Well a few months after that it was pretty obvious that we were not suited to each other and we all parted company I really do not blame them and as I said I respect them for what they tried to do.
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