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Beryl's Evacuation

by gmractiondesk

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
gmractiondesk
People in story: 
Beryl Footman and others
Location of story: 
London & Saxmundham
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4508886
Contributed on: 
21 July 2005

I was eleven at the beginning of the war, just on the point of taking up a scholarship at the grammar school. My parents arranged for me to be evacuated with my primary school, as I would not have known any of the grammar school girls.
We assembled outside the school on Friday, 1 September, and boarded double-decker London Transport buses. My friend, Joan, and I bagged the front seats on the top deck.
It was a very sunny morning. Someone said to me. “You[‘re crying” I was, but I wouldn’t admit it! I said, “It’s the sun on my eyes!”
We were taken to the station and put on a train to Suffolk. There was no corridor. To this day, I don’t know how we managed about loos –p the journey was very long.
We arrived at Saxmundham where we were marched through the streets to the village school. I was carrying my belongings in my brother’s scouts kitbag – Dad thought that it was the way to carry things in wartime he’d been in the Great war!
In the playground there were earth closets –we’d never seen anything like these before. We all came from a council housing estate, so were used to baths and flush lavatories. A surprise was in store for us.

We were each given a carrier bag containing a packet of biscuits, a tin of corned beef and a bar of chocolate, but forbidden to eat them. Eventually we were put into coaches and taken to where we knew not, not even the teachers.
It was dark when we arrived at what turned out to be a boys’ public school where we were to stay for six nights before being allocated to digs.
Those carrier bags of food were taken from us and we never saw them again. I still want to know who had all that chocolate and biscuits.
In the morning, there was a castle not far away. Our teachers took us there for the morning. We played rol-poly down the slope into the moat and Sonia Pearce broke her leg. I bet the teachers blessed her.
I must have been very dim because I did not know that the war had statrted until my father came to see me. Probabaly we were told on the Sunday morning in church, but the service was so boring, I expect I was asleep at the time we were told.
Could go on for ever – but off to see the garden show.
Cheers from an lady getting on in years who will never ever forget her days in Suffolk although she may not remember what she did a couple of minutes ago today.

This story has been submitted to the Peoples War website by Rupert Creed for GMR Action Desk on behalf of Beryl Footman and has been added to the site with her permission. The author is fully aware of the site's terms and conditions

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