- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Stan Gosling
- Location of story:
- Swadlincote, Derbyshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 June 2004
A young Stan Gosling
I was eleven (11) when war broke out having been born in June 1928 at Westcliffe on Sea. I had 4 brothers and 3 sisters.
My Dad looked after us after my Mum died in 1935.
My brother Norman (aged 9) and I were evacuated from Southend on Sea to Derbyshire on 4th June 1940.
The main evacuation from the area took place at the end of March 1940.
Schools were closed and after Dunkirk soldiers were billeted in the schools.
My brother and I arrived at Derby station from where we were taken in a little old van to Church Gresley in South Derbyshire.
We were originally put with Mr & Mrs Cooper of 5 Church Street. They already had a son aged 12 called Sam.
However, Norman couldn’t settle and he was moved and put in the “evacuees hostel” at Castle Gresley .
Dad found out when I wrote to him that we were now separated and he wanted us together, so we were both found new billets at 125 Regent Street Church Gresley, in the home of Mr & Mrs Albert Morton. It was a three bed-roomed terraced house.
Mr & Mrs Morton already had two children of their own when we arrived, Brian aged 9 and Ann aged 3 and they received 16 shillings per evacuee per week from the government for our keep.
When the air-raid siren sounded, we all went under the stairs in the “pantry”.
We all had to attend Sunday school too!
Compared to conditions at home this was like “coming to heaven”, with clean linen and beds and three meals a day. Conditions at home in London had been difficult and life was a struggle, particularly between 1936-37, we regularly went to the soup kitchens in the area for food at that time and received bread from the Nuns in the Convent across the road from where we lived.
Mr Morton was a long distance lorry driver for “Regent Transport”. We were well looked after, they were good people!
We attended a special school for evacuees at Holy Trinity Church at the top of Alexandra Road Church Gresley.
I left school in 1942 aged 14 and started work at Church Gresley Fire Brick works and was involved in the making of clay sanitary and pipe work.
By 1943 I was working alongside Italian POW’s at the pipe works —they were ever such a “nice bunch of lads” but when Italy capitulated they went home.
After D-day 1944 the German POW’s came. I “palled up” with a 17yr old lad called “Josh”.
I used to write letters to him and he would write back in order to learn our English language. He had been wounded on the Russian front and in France prior to capture.
Unfortunately, I eventually lost touch with him.
As a young lad growing up in South Derbyshire I “palled up” with three local lads —Dennis Dawes (the eldest), Geoff Hubbard and Owen Whittaker. We went around together.
We used to spend most of our non-working time during the week together at the local picture houses- the Majestic or the Empire and playing snooker.
Saturday night was dance night at the “Rink” in Swadlincote.
Lots of local young lads to try and attract local girls spent Sunday evenings walking up and down the “Delph” area of Swadlincote High Street. It was known locally as “monkey parading”. We would call in at the “Catchems” for an illicit swift “half” prior to this “ritual” This rationed inferior beer at the time was called “Rocker” made at a local Burton brewery.
If you were seen hanging around doorways or streets in those days the police would move you on.
In 1946 I left the pipe works and started at one of the local pits —Rawdon Colliery, where I remained until 1968 when I left the pits to work for Pirrelli in Burton until In retired in 1991 after 49 years work!
In 1949 I married my wife Claire and settled completely in the area. This area was now my home. We had two daughters, Rita and Margaret. Regrettably, my wife Claire died in 1975.
My younger brother Norman, who had been evacuated with me stayed in the area after leaving school and worked at Gresley Colliery but eventually went back to Southend in1957.
So because of the war I was sent away from home to South Derbyshire, a different part of the country to live, I eventually settled there, married and now have several grandchildren to bring me joy!
The war wasn’t all bad!!
Stan Gosling (76).
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