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Wartime Evacuee Incident [R. Masters]

by Bournemouth Libraries

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Bournemouth Libraries
People in story: 
Roy Masters
Location of story: 
Totnes, Devon
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 November 2005

Whilst an evacuee in wartime Totnes in Devon, the American forces were encamped in the countryside around the town. My mother, who was visiting me at my foster mother's home in 1943/44, also had a part-time job of playing the piano in local public houses.

Whilst she was playing at one pub which the Americans used, she met the Commanding Officer. She introduced him to me because he had a son back home in America, the same age as myself (9 years old). She suggested I became a pen pal. The CO gave me his home address and invited me to his camp to eat with some of his staff.

When I got back home I decided to write to my new pen pal about my day in his dad's camp. Being a bit of an artist and fond of drawing I decided to include an ariel shot
of the camp. I then proceeded to draw were the tanks were, the fuel lorries, the ammunition store, the troops tents and even the toilets. These were holes in the ground with boards across behind a canvas screen. On the drawing I even included the name of the woods were the camp was situated, together with the name of the road leading to it. I duly posted my letter off, thinking how pleased the boy would be to have news of his dad.

Two days later there was an enormous commotion outside our front door and frantic banging. My mum opened the door to be confronted by a very red faced American colonel and two American military police, two British military police, two grey-mac dressed civilian investigators, plus the local bobby. They had come to take me away because of the seriousness of the content of the letter and drawing I had sent.

Due to the strict censorship of the day regarding wartime disclosures, I had committed a most serious breach of security. Unbeknown to me, this was prior to the D-Day landings.

The CO was demoted and sent back to America. Fortunately because of my age I was not liable for arrest. However I was forbidden to write anymore to my pen pal and not allowed to visit any american bases. I was also confined to my home for two weeks. As a young child I was confused and quite upset that I could not continue writing to my new pen pal.

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