- Contributed by
- eileen hussey
- People in story:
- Eileen & Shirley Hussey & Fred Long
- Location of story:
- Midlands UK
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 May 2005
In November 1940 my sister and I were evacuated with other children from our school in Colmore Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, to East Kirkby, Nottinghamshire. I was just 8 and my sister 5.
East Kirkby was a mining village. Consequently, unlike many other parts of the country, many men were still at home with their families, mining being what was called a 'reserved' occupation.
We were very well fed and looked after by our 'hosts' as part of their family. At school, held in a local hall, we were taught by our own teachers who came with us from Birmingham.
Our parents visited us often at weekends and at the one Christmas we spent there. We all learned how to make bread - something never done at home but bread, buns, etc were always home made in Kirkby.
There was only one air raid siren all the time we were there, German bombers not being interested in an area with no other industry than mining, which they could not get at. We evacuees, very used to bombing, were somewhat scornful of the panic this siren caused the locals. A plane went overhead but nothing else happened. We decided it was lost.
Most of our entertainment was home-made - toboggans in the winter, there was lots of snow in those days, even up and down the streets. We hardly ever saw a car. Other times we play-acted, using the only (empty) garage in the street as our theatre. The two other favourites throughout the war were radio and cinema. Every Saturday morning we saw the childrens' programmes at the cinema - no sweets available but we always had a scraped carrot!
When the bombers began to concentrate on London we went home, where we spent the last years of the war.
During the evacuation, I wrote letters home, some with lines like the following:-
"I have German measles and have to stay in bed for 2 days. Shirley's whooping cough is better"
"When are you coming again? Are you going to bring my doll"
"Will you bring my skipping rope and snap cards"
"I don't want you to worry because we are all right"
There was also a letter from our Head Teacher to our mother, including the words "you would please Shirley very much if you will send her pretty knitting wools and coloured pins. The child is knitting mad, every time she can wangle it, she gets her knitting out in the wrong lesson"
When we were clearing out our parents' house in the 90's, we came across these letters and offered them to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. They were pleased because although there is plenty of material connected with the war - identity and ration cards for example - there appears to be little remaining material about evacuation.. These letters are now in the Museum and they have the copyright.
Other letters also in the Museum are between me and a soldier. Our school had asked if anyone would like to write to a soldier. Several of us did. I wrote to a 21 year old from Birmingham, then based in Scotland. Surprising really that they wanted to write to little schoolgirls, but this one anyway could always find things to say of interest, about the climate and flora of his base and his home and work in Birmingham.
When I had a letter returned marked 'undelivered' and we heard nothing more, we thought pehaps he had been killed. It was not until I found these letters a few years ago that I tried to track him down, having found from the War Office that he had not died in the war.
To my amazement, through a Reunion page in the magazine of an Association of which I was a member, I had a telephone call from the soldier himself. What a coincidence, no longer living in the same city, but both being members of the same association. We exchanged calls and letters and planned to meet. Sadly, before we could do so, he was taken ill and died but I am still in touch with his family.
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