- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mollie Phillips and James Phillips
- Location of story:
- Lake District and Normandy
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 22 February 2005
I was evacuated in September l939 from Todds Nook School in Newcastle upon Tyne along with my two brothers and younger sister. We lived in a city where we had factories making armaments i.e. weapons and tanks. The river Tyne was also famous for shipbuilding so it followed that the North East would become a prime target for air-raids. Hence the scheme to evacuate the children from zones of danger.
And so it was; there were many air-raids over the city, people killed and buildings destroyed.
I was 9 years old when war was declared and was already evacuated to a family in Milnthorpe (near Kendal) in the Lake District. It was a beautiful village where the way of life was completely different from that of an 'inner city kid'.
I remember being excited when the actual day of evacuation arrived as there had been lots of activity at home with relatives coming and going, lots of sewing of clothes and some new clothes, especially new red blazers for my sister and me. We assembled in the school yard and marched to Newcastle Central Station accompanied by family and friends so to us children it was an adventure. People were leaning out of windows and standing at doors waving and smiling as we marched by. Even children whose parents would not allow them to be evacuated joined the throng. Arriving at the station we boarded special trains and that's when the crying started. I remember being very brave and I was lucky as I had my two brothers with me and my sister. A mass of arms waved us off as the train pulled out of the station. Slowly at first, then faster and faster. I sat on the edge of my seat by the window watching the grimy buildings and smoking chimneys of the city flash by. In a short space of time the scenery was very different. Green fields as far as the eye could see all divided by neat stone walls which even ran up into the hills - I remember wondering how the walls didn’t fall down, after all I was only 9! Now and then the train slowed down where men were working on the line. We cheered them all and they in turn waved their caps in the air and grinned at us. Then the train gathered speed and we were off once more into the quiet, peaceful countryside. Our destination was Carlisle from whence we were taken in buses to the village of Milnthorpe, eight miles outside Kendal.
The buses pulled into the village square and the Geordie invasion had started! We were then marshalled into the village school which consisted of two classrooms with toilets outside in the village square. It was far removed from our big, rambling school on Tyneside. Rows of chairs had been set out for us and village helpers were everywhere, some with clip-boards with lists of names and others consoling distressed children. People were coming in; looking at the children and taking whoever they thought would fit into their home life. My two brothers were quickly taken, one to a small farm and the other to the village blacksmith — totally different environments to what we were used to. My parents had made it clear that we girls must not be separated, which meant that not everyone had room for two children, hence the delay in us being taken. After a very long time and almost everyone else being ticked off the list I saw two ladies approaching us. The taller lady, who wore a hat like a man’s, not at all like the ones my mother wore, said “you must be sisters, and how sweet you look in your red blazers”. It didn’t matter that I did not like her hat nor the way she spoke, what was really important was that we had been chose and were ticked off the list.
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