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15 October 2014
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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Eleanor Parrett (nee Larkins), Catherine Kemp (nee Larkins), and Linda Dwyer (nee Larkins)
Location of story: 
Dover, Kent and Wyllie, South Wales
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A7076180
Contributed on: 
18 November 2005

I was ten years old when the war began. I was attending Barton Road Girls’ School in Dover. I lived with my parents and two younger sisters, Kitty, seven, and Linda, five and a half years old. We all waited together in a queue outside Dover Priory Station with our parents. Being the eldest, my mother was constantly telling me to look after Kitty and Linda — it was the beginning of our “big adventure”. As we moved to board the train, our parents rushed from the station for a last glimpse of us as the train passed over the bridge at the end of our road. Incidentally, our home was later demolished by a land mine.

The journey seemed to go on forever, as we didn’t even know where we were going. I knew my sister Kitty was in the same carriage as me and Linda was in the next one along, so I felt we were all safe. Eventually we arrived in a small village in South Wales called Ynysddu. It was very late, past midnight by then. We all alighted from the train and what a sorry lot we must have looked. Labels tied to our coats, gas masks on our shoulders, carrying our small cases or bags. Can anyone imagine how I felt at this point, to find out that the front half of the train had gone on to another destination, taking Linda with it. I was distraught!

Those of us remaining were taken into a large hall, given something to eat, seen by a doctor and all given one week’s ration card. We were then taken by bus to the next village, called Wyllie, where we all ended up in the village hall, but still no sign of news of Linda. We were given slips of paper with a name on each of them, and when the name was called out you had to go with them. It was a bit of a lottery really. Kitty and myself were in tears because we were not together. Lots of other sisters had been split up and were also crying. I suppose nobody minded one evacuee, but not many wanted, or had enough room for two. The name I was given was Mr. And Mrs. James, and the next two years I lived with them and their only daughter Doreen.

By the time I had woken up the following morning, Mr. James had already found out Linda was in the next village — Ponllanfraith. I was taken to see her, but I never ever stopped missing my Mum and Dad. As I’ve got older I’ve often wondered what they felt that day on the 2nd June 1940. A houseful of kids, and by the end of the year nothing. They must have wondered and worried where we going, and with whom? But life goes on, and I firmly believe that I realised at a very young age just how much I loved my parents.

This story was entered on The People's War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of Eleanor Parrett, who fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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