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Barbara Jean Parker, Bad Evacuation Memory

by ActionBristol

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Barbara Jean Parker
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07 May 2005

This Story is submitted by a volunteer on behalf of Radio Bristol Action Desk at City of Bristol College.

Barbara Jean Parker (maiden name: Jefferies) was 12 in 1939 at Marksbury Road school and remembers the day that Filton airport was bombed.

My parents decided that evacuation for children was a wise precaution and we three children should be sent to a safe area. My mum told me to keep hold of my 4 year old half brother's hand (Michael) and not to part with him and with my 8 year old brother Colin we went from Parson Street Station, Bedminster to Babbacoombe in Devon.

Babbacoombe had a good billing; Tall cliffs, fine sands and beautiful blue sea, the only mark was the unsightly and rather scary barbed wire around the coast.

Along with the other children from our neighbourhood we were lined up in a schoolhall in Babbacoombe for selection by local people. My 8 year old brother Colin was snapped quite quickly as he was fit and handsome looking so he could be used for chores and the family would be quite proud of him.

However, no one really wanted me and me little brother as he was too small and I wouldn't let go of him! This led to problems and I remember vividly a tall man with a flogging stick coming over to sort us out. He threatened me with the stick and I was so scared but wouldn't let go of my brother and eventually I defended myself by kicking him in the shins!

The billit officers couldn't anywhere else and so we ended up in what appeared to be a boys reformatory.

We may have been there three days to a week but I can't really remember although I know that I was terrified. I must have been screaming for help because some of my friends came to our aid and one girl found the end of a crayon and wrote a message for help to my mother on a piece of toilet paper (It was Jay's Fluid paper which was much stronger than the stuff today!).

As far as I can remember, the note said:

'Please help us, nobody wants us.'

The following morning a boy climbed from the window and gave the paper note to a postman with the request to take it to my mother in Marksbury Road, Bedminster. It worked!!!

Some days later my mother came to collect us; she had obviously rushed as she was still in her working clothes.

Looking back now, the only thing I can remember about Babbacoombe was looking at the beach, covered in barbed wire and steps down to the beach.

I have since been for a short holiday there to retrace the steps of my past and I met a lady serving in a charity shop just around the back of the old reformatory building. She had lived in Babbacoombe all her life and remembered and was able to direct me to the reformatory that I had been forced to stay at.

Its amazing for me to have found someone like that who knew exactly what I meant and where I was talking about and it turned out to be a wonderful holiday!

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