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I was an Evacuee

by Barbara Strickley

Contributed by 
Barbara Strickley
People in story: 
Barbara Holmes,Agnes Holmes Agnes Povey, Mr. & Mrs. Richards
Location of story: 
London and Yeovil Somerset
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 May 2005

This Photograph is of my family on holiday in Cliftonville. Me as a young child, my maternal grandmother, Aunt, Mother and Father. About 1937

I was seven years old when the war started. I remember very clearly being told that I was going on a week's holiday with the school. I lived in Kennington with my parents, and in those days my relatives lived very close by. My maternal grandmother lived around the corner with my Aunt and my paternal grandmother lived a couple of streets away.

When the day came for me to go on my 'holiday' the family gathered round, a label was pinned to my lapel, a satchel filled with sandwiches and a drink and a gas mask in a box tied with a piece of string was put on my shoulder.

Children were put on trams, including me, and mothers stood waving. I remember my mother running after the tram with tears running down her cheeks. Apparently both grandmothers couldn't understand how she could let me go and never quite forgave her.

We arrived at the Station, where there were lines and lines of children, I remember it being very noisy and was aware of the noise and the smell of the steam from the engines. Eventually we got on the train, with a corridor and the teachers allowed us to walk up and down. Being brought up in London, I was only aware of apples etc., being displayed on the barrows in East Lane, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw them growing on trees and seeing cows and horses in fields.

We arrived in Yeovil and were taken to a Chruch Hall given an orange and told to wait for someone to collect us. At the start of our journey I was really excited but now I was feeling apprehensive and wanted to go home. A tall woman came to collect four of us, she was the Doctor's daughter, she delivered two children to a house I and another girl called Margaret was taken to a Council house where a small woman with grey hair was waiting. She said we would wait at the door for her husband to arrive home. Suddenly he arrived in a coal lorry, with a dog sitting with him in the cab. He got out covered in coal dust took off his cap to reveal a pink bald head, Margaret started to cry and I started to laugh, my weeks holiday turned into 6 years away from home.

That night was one of the strangest in my life. This house that was going to be our home for the next 6 years only had, for some reason, electricity downstairs, we were given candlesticks to go upstairs to bed, and I remember watching my shadow getting longer as we went up the stairs, we got into bed and put the candles out.

Margaret didn't stay long, so I ended up an only child again. I used to ride on the back of the coal lorry among the sacks while the dog sat in the cab and ended up going home covered in coal dust. We used to stop at peoples houses, I was given lardy cake and strawberries, and fresh lemonade. I was shut in a shed with the dog while Mr. Richards filled up the coal sacks at the yard in the station. One day I heard a plane flying very low and saw Mr. Richards running towards us with bullets dancing up around him and a German plane in tow. Another time I was walking along the High Street in the Village and a German plane dropped out of the sky and machine gunned along the street, a woman who pulled me into the entrance of a glove factory just in time saved me. We had German and Italian POW's. The Italians used to walk from the fields, where they worked, singing in Italian. A British(Tommy) soldier holding a gun in the front and another at the rear.

Lots of memories of those days, these are just a few.

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