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Evacuation to Wales

by Bemerton Local History Society

Contributed by 
Bemerton Local History Society
People in story: 
Don Currie
Location of story: 
Liverpool and North Wales
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4064889
Contributed on: 
14 May 2005

I do remember Chamberlaine`s broadcast announcing that we were at war but I don`t remember just how quickly after that my brother and sister and I were taken to Lime Street Station. But there was a big poster of a German soldier with a rifle acros his chest and “Know Your Enemy” written all over the shiny, brown surface. I thought it marvellous, very striking, and felt confident that indeed I would now be able to recognise the enemy if I saw him again. I was nine at the time.
Mother had her instructions; she`d packed everything into pillowcases. In addition to our clothes and so forth the government had distributed various goodies: I remember a tin of Libby`s milk, and a half-pound bar of Cadbury`s chocolate, a piece of ginger cake, and some some bread rolls.
I didn`t understand why my mother was crying as we got onto the train to Caernarfon. From there we went by bus to Penygroes and were shepherded into the town hall where people came and chose us. A farmer`s son came along and picked my brother and me out of the line. Being a farmer he was in a protected job. He was built like an ox and carried the two of us the two miles from the bus to the farm.
I looked all around at the hills and the mountains and thought I was in fairyland!
The farmer`s wife had a little English; the farmer had none so we were forced to learn Welsh very quickly. I went to school in Bryneira. I remember hearing the stories of The Princess and the Pea and Rumpelstilskin for the first time; I was taught to play the harmonium and we gave little concerts. We went for nature walks round Talysarn and on one occasion had to shelter from the rain in a building with a corrugated iron roof; the noise of the drops battering the roof was awesome.
I really loved the area so much: the smell of violets and honeysuckle in the hedgerows was intoxicating. On one occasion on my way home I saw a little hole in the bank so I took a little twig from a bush and poked it into the hole - and disturbed a wasp`s nest! A Rekitt`s blue bag was applied to ease the pain of the stings which faded faster than the blue. We used to pick wild fruit - apples, crabapples, raspberries, blackberries, wild plums...
Sunday, of course, was chapel. The farmer`s son, Cledwyn, had a beautiful voice and we learned to sing the hymns too.
The family were so kind to us. The farmer gave me a garden plot
in a field together with some unnamed seeds: “You`ll have to wait and see what they are,” said he. A couple of days later I seemed to be missing and he came and found me - by my garden. “I`m waiting for my plants to come up,” says I. “Well, in gardening and farming you have to be very patient,” says he.
We were very lucky when it came to food, of course. Farm milk, homemade butter, bread and jam. We ate well.
We did go home to Liverpool once when my grandmother was very ill. There was bombing and mines and the Royal Navy put up barrage baloons, but on one occasion when I was out with my mother a German plane got under the wires and was machine-gunning Lord Street. Mother threw me into a doorway and followed herself - she saved my life.
My parents did come to visit us in Wales. Dad was able to come because, having been in the RAF and having seen service in Redcar and Egypt, he contracted an illness which invalided him out of the service and ultimately caused his death in his early sixties. Eventually, after our house in Liverpool had been destroyed in bombing, they came to live with us: the farmer offered them a home. They had found some alternative accommodation in the city but after Mother had finished talking to the farmer (through his son interpreting, of course) she decided to stay. Our sister had been billeted with an old lady in Llanberis; not a happy placement. She spent her time in silence as she couldn`t talk to the old lady; they were all alone and she was badly fed. Mother just walked in and scooped her up and brought her to be with the rest of us.
When you are a child you sleepwalk through things: you don`t realise what`s happening, you`re not in charge.

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