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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Anna Jones, Learning Project Manager
People in story: 
Margaret Barnaby
Location of story: 
Sunderland, Northallerton
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4037474
Contributed on: 
09 May 2005

"This story was submitted to the People's War site by Sarah Bateson of the BBC on behalf of Margaret Barnaby and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions"

In September 1939 my sister and I were evacuated to a nearby mining village - Bear Park - which is in County Durham. We were only there for about 4 or 5 weeks because my sister Nora developed measles and was very homesick and the lady looking after us thought she would be better off back in sunderland with our parent. So off we went.

The following year in 1940 things were warming up on the home front and there was another evacuation arranged. this time we went off to Northallerton in North Yorkshire. i wasn't too upset at going because being the eldest in a family of six children I often had to look after them. Going away was like a holiday.

Your mum took my younger sister and I to our school were a coach was waiting to take us the appointed place. But we didn't know were we going until we got there. My mum didn't know either, until we arrived.

The coach took us to Northallerton where we were taken to a reception area - a Methodist mission. There were ladies who were volunteers and willing to take the children to their respected billets. It was quite overwhelming. We had our bags, pillowcase whatever you had your gladrags in. There were people around inspecting the children. Needless to say those that were best dressed were the first to be taken. Before I left I'd been told by my Mum to make sure that Nora and I stayed together. My sister was 6 years old, and I was 12.

We were taken to a lady who had emphasised that she only wanted two small children. I was a bit older than she wanted. And she said she just wanted to take my sister. Remembering what my mum said, I spoke up, and said that if she took my sister she had to take me. My sister wasn't going to go without me. The lady agreed to this reluctantly. When we got back to her house we both began crying.

She was the local chimney sweeps wife. This area was surrounded by the military including the army camp at Catterick. They were using the green for camouflage.

We weren't there very long. She couldn't cope looking after children. She had service mens wives staying there too. So we were moved, and separated.

My sister Nora went into a hostel for evacuees and I went into a temporary accomodation. Which ended up being for the next three years. The couple I stayed with were both retired and had two sons of about 16 and 18. They were mechanics who stayed at home, to repair army vehicles.

My sister was moved around 4 or 5 times. Some of the places were not suitable or they couldn't commit to looking after an evacuee longterm. But we still saw one another after school. She was never too far away from me.

My mum did come to see us ocassionally. Our younger brothers and sisters had been evacuated with their nursery school about 12 or 13 miles from were we were. So when she went to see them we'd catch the bus to meet her at Darlington. Then we'd carry on to Croft to see our other brothers and sisters.

My evacuation came to an end when I was 14. I had begun an extra year at school in Northallerton, but decided to return home. The rest of the family also returned at that time. Myself, and three brothers and four sisters were re-united with my mum and Dad for Christmas 1942.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Wearside and County Durham Category
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