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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk Leicester
People in story: 
George Palin
Location of story: 
Liverpool/N Wales
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5089890
Contributed on: 
15 August 2005

The day war was declared I was staying with my aunt near Rochdale. I was there for a week before returning home to Liverpool. I had just finished at junior school and was to start the term at senior school as a new boy.

I was playing in the field behind her house when I heard her calling me. She told me that war had been declared and that I had to go home right away. We hurriedly packed my things, then she took me to the station and put me on a train for Liverpool. On the train I thought about the war. I had heard the radio and listened to my parents talking, but I did not have any idea what a difference it was to make to me. My parents met me as I got off the train. On the way home they told me the school I was going to was being evacuated to a small town in Wales in a few days time. They told me that the government were worreid that the Germans would bomb the big cities and there would be lots of casualties. They had arranged that the children should be sent away to smaller towns in the country. This was called evacuation.

A few days later I was back on a railway platform, dressed in my new school uniform and carrying my suitcase. The platform was packed with boys of all ages and their parents. Some men, who I later found out were teachers, and some older boys, were rushing about with lists, trying to sort things out. We were directed to a group of parents and other new boys. Many of them knew some of the others, having been at the same junior school, but I was the only one from my old school. When we were told to get on the train, my parents hugged me, and I saw my mother was crying. For me it was all too exciting and it was only when we were moving that I started to feel worried about leaving them and my home.

When we arrived we were split into groups and put on buses, each with a teacher. He explained that we would be taken to the houses where we were to be billeted (that meant we were to live with the families). The buses drove aroundn the town, stopping at different houses. Each time two or three names were read out and the boys named were taken to the houses by the teacher. After a brief talk at the door the boys went in, the teacher came back, and we moved on. My name was called with two others and we went up the path to the front door. We were introduced to the lady who answered the door. She was pleasant and took us in and gave us tea before showing us to the room we were to share. She told us to unpack, then she would call us down for the evening meal. The other boys had been at the same school and were friends. They were also a year older than me. I had never shared a room before and felt quite lost as we sorted out which bed we were each going to have and which drawers we were going to use for our things.

When we went down for the evening meal we met the rest of the family. The lady's husband, and their son and daughter who were both much older than us. They were pleasant enough and asked us about ourselves, but looking back on it they were not very interested and didn't want to be too bothered with us. They had been told they had to take us and were being paid to look after us, but that didn't mean they had to show any affection.

That night in bed I felt utterly lost, lonely and miserable. I am sure that if I had been by myself I would have cried myself to sleep. I kept thinking of my own room, my parents, my sister and my old friends, wondering if I would ever see them again.

Things got better when we started school. We shared the school building with one of the local schools. They had it in the mornings and we had it in the afternoons, then we changed about. I made some new friends at school, and got to know the two I shared the room with better, although they were not in the same form and we never really became friends. The family we lived with looked after us well, but we never felt part of the family. They had no telephone, nor did my parents, so I was not able to talk to them. My mother wrote me letters twice a week, but these almost made things worse. She told me all that was happening at home, and that made me think how much I wished I was there. Once my mother and father came for the day. I told them how much I missed home and they told me how much they missed having me there. It was wonderful to see them, but dreadful when they left.

I suppose there must have been good times, but my abiding memory is of wishing I was home.

At the end of term my parents came to collect me for the Christmas holidays. I was delighted when they told me as there had been no bombing they had decided that I should stay at home after the break. I said goodbye to the family with whom I had lived for three months, with little regret, and spent a wonderful Christmas back home.

Quite a lot of parents had also brought their children back then. At Easter the evacuation was cancelled and all the children came home.

So we were all back in time for the Blitz, but that is another story.

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Christina Cazalet of CSV Action Desk Leicester on behalf of George Palin and has been added with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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