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WW2 - People's War

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Boyhood memories of evacuation

by Devon Library Service

Contributed by 
Devon Library Service
People in story: 
Michael Wall
Location of story: 
Patcham, near Brighton and St David's
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 June 2005

Before the war started we were on holiday in France and it was on the way back home that we got our first experience of war. We were on the southern railway ferry when we passed a German flying boat with Hitler youth in it, who were jeering and shouting at the British passengers. When war broke out I was evacuated from Battersea to Patcham near Brighton where we were allocated a billet; the first billet I was given was awful and I was soon relocated to a much nicer place that was so good. I was reluctant to leave in July 1940. From Dec 1939 to March 1940 was a terrible winter of ice and snow. Of course nobody knew this as it was not allowed to be told in case the enemy found out. Another memory I have is one of soldiers returning from Dunkirk and the final was the forming of the Home Guard (LDV-Local Defence Volunteers) armed with pitchforks and wooden rifles. When the Blitz on London started I was relocated to St David’s in South Wales. It was here that I started working on farms picking early potatoes in June and then with the corn harvest in August and then the main crop potatoes in October, and that was when we had the school holidays. I went to grammar school while in St David’s which was marvellous because it had a cathedral and wonderful beaches. In March 1942 I took the junior county scholarship and passed it, and so in September 1942 I returned to London to go to Strand school and was in London until the autumn of 1943. By then the bombing was increasing again in London and so I returned to St David’s to the Grammar school until the end of the war (August 1945). When I got back I worked on farms again and my memories are of D-day (June 6th 1944) and also VE-day (May 8th 1945) and the celebrations at the end of the war. The important thing is to know that because all of this got me interested in farming, which I still do to day, all this changed my life completely.

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