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15 October 2014
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"This One's For Us!"

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Jill Freeborn
Location of story: 
New Eltham, Borth, Wales
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Stuart Marshall from Crawley Library and has been added to the website on behalf of Jill Freeborn with her permission and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

It was summer 1944 almost at the and of the war but we didn’t know that at the time. We were living in New Eltham, on the border of South East London and Kent. I was six at the time. My sister who was four years older than me and I were playing in the garden and my mother and our next door neighbour, Auntie Wyn, were chatting over the garden fence which they did almost daily.
Suddenly there was the dreaded drone of a doodlebug engine, this cut out just overhead and there was that horrible silence before the inevitable explosion. I can remember it was a lovely sunny day. My mother and Wyn stopped chatting, looked up and my mother shouted “this one’s for us!” We all rushed inside the house and hid in our indoor Morrison Shelter but unfortunately Patch, our black Labrador, didn’t make it. The doodlebug hit the chimney between our two houses, and exploded onto Auntie Wyn’s outdoor Anderson Shelter, although it was very fortunate they did not have time to get inside and somehow they survived amongst the rubble of their house.
When things had died down I can remember men in tin helmets and dark uniforms, I think they were the ARP wardens, helping to drag us out from the remains of the house. I can remember looking up and saying to my mother “mummy, I can see the sky” and then we all burst into tears.
After we were bombed, my mother, sister and I were evacuated to Borth in Wales but my father was not with us because he was in the army. That was not a happy experience because many of the families who took in ‘refugees’ did it for the money and we were treated as outcasts by the lady of the house. It was also very difficult to settle in school because we were outsiders. But I can remember using a grey square slate to write on with a small slate pencil and being able to wipe it off with a damp cloth.
Even in such terrible times some of the bombed out houses were looted. The remains of people’s personal belongings and treasures were picked over by thieves but at our house there was probably nothing left for them to take. I remember hearing from my mother that a friend of hers was asleep in an armchair in the remains of her house and woke up to find people rummaging through her things!

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