- Contributed by
- CSV Solent
- People in story:
- Dorothy Wiseman
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 June 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Sue Smith on behalf of Dorothy Wiseman and has been added to the site with her permission. Dorothy fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
There were four of us in my family, Mum; Dad, my brother aged 14 and myself aged 10. We lived in a terraced house in Addiscombe, Croydon. We were evacuated the day after war broke out in 1939 and it was both exciting and sad. My mother and I were taken to my school in the neighbour’s Austin7, and subsequently to East Croydon station where we met up with my brother who had travelled on the bus. Each of us had our identity label and gas mask and I carried a knapsack on my back. Waving a final goodbye from the window we all settled down to our mystery trip.
The journey was uneventful but I do remember my first glimpse of the South Downs, which was quite a thrill. Later I was to experience tobogganing down those hills and my first sight of cowslips growing.
Our destination was Polegate, near Eastbourne. In view of the possible invasion this would seem to leave us vulnerable but such thoughts never entered my head. We were taken to a local Infant school and had a head inspection and our details taken down and we were then matched with possible foster carers. I was with my best friend Mary and her 6 year old sister Ann.
I shall never forget how I felt waiting on the doorstep of the little brick house, wondering who would open the door, but then a smiling, possibly nervous Mrs. Cobb accepted all three of us. Ann was very young and I found her frequent tears added to my own homesickness. Another new experience was being clasped to Mrs. Cobb’s ample bosom but both Mr.and Mrs. Cobb were very kind and understanding.
We shared the village school; with the local children but weren’t integrated with them. We had the full use of the school for half of every day and a local hall for the rest of the time.
I have a remaining impression of a warm, sunny autumn where we walked through the woods with their colourful crackling leaves. Mary and Ann went home in 1941 and I became an only foster child making friends with local children. My mother was able to visit several times but Dad was an ARP warden and wasn’t often able to come. Mr. and Mrs Cobb had no children of their own and he made a fuss of me calling me Li’le Gel.He was very proud of the gooseberries he grew which were made into jam.
Before Mary and Ann left we joined the Brownie pack and attended Sunday school. Their father was a minister in the Congregational church and once preached locally. That was the hard winter of ’41. We had quite a heavy fall of snow and I remember how he put socks over his shoes to get a better grip.
I sat my scholarship at Polegate School and in spite of having no preparation I passed and began at my new school back home in September with a long absence due to the Battle of Britain. My memories are of long days and nights in the air raid shelter.
I missed my own family during those nine months but I feel I was lucky, and have many happy memories. Subsequent to the end of the war, we maintained our friendship and this extended to members of my own family who would sometimes stay with the Cobbs. After I married in 1949 my husband and I stayed at Polegate several times and with the birth of my son David the Cobbs baby-sat for us on many occasions. I am truly thankful for their hospitality.
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