- Contributed by
- People in story:
- David Hinchcliff
- Location of story:
- Manchester UK, Denver USA
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 April 2005
My story is based on events I was told by my mother as I was too young at the time to remember much about the details.
I think it was at the beginning of 1940 that my father, who worked for an engineering firm in Manchester, was told of a scheme to evacuate company wives and families to homes in America. My mother was in favour of going, although at the time I was only a baby and my two sisters aged three and four. I don't know why they decided to risk this, as the Atlantic was a very dangerous place with German U-boats on the prowl.
It was arranged that a family in New York would provide us with accommodation. We set off from Liverpool in the SS Samaria in convoy, waving a sad farewell to my father. He had to endure many anxious days as he heard rumours, possibly by the radio propaganda of Lord Haw-Haw,of ships being sunk and imagining that it could have happened to us. However we arrived safely in New York.
But there was a shock awaiting my mother on arrival. The family that was to accommodate us had split up and the arrangement had fallen through.
An alternative place was found but this proved to be in a pro German area of the US and my mother refused to stay. We were then sent to Denver, the home of a lady I came to know as "Aunty Chrissy". She was very friendly and kind and got on well with my mother.
My two sisters, Anne and Alison, were sent to a local nursery school called Peter Pan and the story goes that they insisted on singing God Save the King every morning when the other children sang God Bless America. The local newspaper wrote an article about us that I still have in my possession. My mother bought a cine camera and I have the films that she took of some of the trips into the hills that we made with Aunty Chrissy and to San Diego and the Grand Canyon.
Once while in Denver I went missing in a department store and it was feared for a while that that I had been kidnapped. The store was thoroughly searched and I was eventually found in the company of a lonely old chap who meant me no harm.
My mother had been born in Canada but was adopted and taken to England as a child. So while Aunty Chrissie cared for my sisters, my mother took me on a trip to the Canadian border hoping to cross over and spend a little time in her native land. Just as we were about to cross over the border she was warned that we might not be able to come back again and she had to abort the chance. It was to be another 40 years before she got the opportunity again.
As the war raged on, my mother was missing my father and her own home more and more and becoming anxious about the secret voluntary war work in which he was involved in Manchester. In 1943she decided to take us all back to the UK. She applied for a passage but we had to wait and be ready to travel at short notice. When the time came she couldn't even inform my father about the date. We travelled in convoy again but I do not remember the name of the ship. My mother always maintained that on arrival in Liverpool a member of the crew was arrested for secretly throwing food overboard that might have indicated the position of the convoy to the enemy. It was a relieved and delighted father that got the phone call announcing our arrival back home after nearly three years away.
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