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Evacuation Experience (Cornwall)

by Billericay Library

Contributed by 
Billericay Library
People in story: 
David Meredith (ne Morofsky)
Location of story: 
Sidcup, Kent and Cornwall
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 August 2004

I was born in November 1934 and the war started in September 1939.

I was nearly five years old when the war began and was in a children’s home in Sidcup, Kent. They were called Lamorbey Children’s Homes and were administered by the LCC (London County Council).

We had many cottages and a girls’ side and a boy’s side. All were given names which, when I returned years later with an old dancing friend, were named after trees. Then it meant nothing to us, only that we had a roof over our heads, which, looking back, we were very grateful for.

From an early age I started to suffer from bad nerves and a bad stammer, which I still have to this day. However, life in the children’s home had its good and bad moments. I personally found it very hard to make friends not only because of the bad nerves and stammer but because I was born with the name David Morofsky. I hated it and was subject from time to time to cruel taunts which would not be tolerated today: such taunts as Bosky Morofsky and Jittery Jock.

There was also one tall boy who always chased me but thank God never caught me. His name was ‘Giddy Gyson’ and even to this day I cannot understand why he had evil in his heart for me. If we ever met, I would offer him the hand of friendship now.

I remember begin transferred to a cottage called ‘The Beeches’ and it was there that I learned the shocking truth: I was born Jewish.

Also in 1943, all the Jewish young boys, like myself, had to go in a bigger boys’ cottage called ‘The Oaks.’ For the first and last time all the Jewish boys were put together and felt that we were marked out. All the other boys in the cottages knew who we were and went out of their way to shun. They all went to church on a Sunday while we stayed at home peeling potatoes etc.

Also from time to time, us small boys were in danger of being bullied by the bigger ones and the principal of the home seems to have turned a blind eye. I can fully remember when the older boys took us little ones to the park one Sunday. One small boy was made to sit at the bottom of the slide to prevent us from falling off. However, I went up the steps of the slide and came down and pushed him to the ground in tears. My punishment was to have my hands tied behind my back, forcibly marched up the steps and then pushed head-first down the slide.

When I used to take my own children later to the park, I always used to look away when they went up the slide as this memory still haunts me.

When the LCC drew up 2 lists for evacuation in June 1944, my life changed forever. Being a nine year old, I could not take it all in. I remember getting on a train at Paddington Station, called ‘the Cornish Riviera’, with the other boys and girls. We arrived at a village called Praze in Cornwall, three miles outside Cambourne. I remember going into a large hall with an identity tag on and the local people were deciding who to take in and look after.

To this day, I consider myself very lucky as the couple who selected me were a Mr and Mrs J Eustace, who I used to call Uncle and Auntie.

I had a brother (younger than me, called Lionel) who was picked by a couple who already had a couple of young children. I also had a sister, Helen, who was evacuated to the headmaster and his wife who, like my family, must have thought we were gifts from God. She was seven at the time and was later adopted after the war when we returned to Sidcup.

I learned during my eleven months with my new family that they had one son who died at the early age of twenty eight from a stroke and they gave me all the love and care that was humanly possible. They were also of the Christian faith.

I remember going with their widowed neighbour, whose name was Mrs Pill, every Sunday morning to church. We even walked over stiles and fields; we also went some evenings for Communion.

I really enjoyed my new life and freedom and never wanted it to end.

We used to have Cornish pasties once a week and they were a meal in themselves.

After a few months, the LCC decided to send a Rabbi down to the Jewish boys. So I saw him on a Wednesday and still went to church on a Sunday. In fact the truth was, I saw the inside of a church before that of a synagogue! After the war, I took religious lessons was Bar Mitzvahed in a synagogue.

We seemed a long way away from the war down there and I also remember going for long walks on my own. I also developed my first crush on a girl called Shirley Khan who lived with her older sister, Rita, in village two miles away called Leedstown. I think I saw them once together walking past me one day.

I also remember the village school burning down; rumour had it that our presence (the presence of the evacuated children) was the contribution! We had to go on Charabanc each day to a school in Cambourne 3 miles away.

It was also at the early age of nine years, that I did my first dancing and can always remember the name of the dance called ‘The Moonlight Saunter.’ This was my favourite but today, years later, and after three operations on the head, I can’t remember a step!

I can always remember being given a gift at Christmas by Mrs Pill of a blue book called ‘The Fifth Form at St Dominic’s’ and receiving another book from my aunt and uncle called ‘The Empire Youth Annual.’

Looking back at those 11 months between June 1944 and May 1945, it was one of the happiest periods of my life and I have everlasting memories.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Cornwall Category
Kent Category
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