With my parents I was on the Arandora Star - when it made its very last trip, collecting refugees along the French coast. I was seventeen at the time- my father ,English,residing in France since 1915, married to a French woman, my mother. She and I only spoke French.
Because of my father's political views- and nationality, it was decided we should leave France.I had spent the first year of the war in the Dordogne region, my mother's birth place. My parents were in Paris. They left 24 hours before the Germans entered Paris.
To resume, they " collected "me and a man I refer to as " the man from Barclay's bank in Marseilles" That man met my father in Perigueux, in the town hall . The man had a letter from the bank telling him to make his way to Bordeaux. When he met my father ,that very morning, the French government had ordered a " stay put" order , throughout the whole of France. My father had a car, the man from Barclay's had an official letter. The two Englishmen chose to ignore the order because, as they said, it did not apply to the British!
We made our way to Bordeaux , the consulate was closing, no boats . We were told to go on South , as far as the Spanish border . By that time the car needed attention,. My father worked all night in a garage to make it road worthy. During that very night, the Germans bombed Bordeaux to make the French government accept peace conditions .
We left the garage at dawn and made it to Biarritz where we spent- I believe-two days .I remember waiting on the quay side , getting into a train, waiting till dark and moving from the train to a harbour. that would have been St Jean de Luz . We embarked in small fishing boat- seasickness- spending a long time - in the dark - then climbing a rope ladder. finishing in hammocks where my mother and I remained most of the time ,below deck- My father ,who spoke fluent French- and was not sea sick- was kept busy, helping in various ways. It was he who told us the name of the ship, how it zigzagged all the time, accompanied by one single destroyer that kept moving and circling around the ARANDORA STAR.It was father who also told us King Zog, his wife and entourage were on board- obviously not in hammocks as we were!
How long did we sail? 3/4/5/ days I am not sure .
Here is the mystery that I have been unable to solve . Where did we land that I should have a vivid memory of RED CLIFFS, intense heat,blue skies and the sound of a French voice. It was General de Gaulle who had arrived a few days before,on the 18th June 1940 . His famous speech ,calling on the French to continue fighting, was relayed to us on loud speakers.
All the information I have found on the Web says the Arandora Star docked in Liverpool- no red cliffs there ! I also recall a train journey from wherever we landed, then waiting , while my father was obtaining travel vouchers - we had no money- and a final journey- from the same station -to Ashtead Surrey- where my English grand parents lived. they did not expect to see us..
If anyone can help me fill the gaps ,I would be very grateful.
Another clue. we were issued with identity cards bearing ONLY three letters PAL. I read, on the BBC ,War Memories that it stood for Plymouth Alien Landing
......I wish I knew the name of the " man from Barclays". May be he told his story and someone will read mine and put the threads together?