A small group of Jewish children came to live at a Millisle farm
during the Second World War. Refugees from Germany,
Austria and Czechoslovakia they had been rescued
from their homes after their parents were lifted
by the Nazis. This transportation of children,
some as young as a few months old, to safe havens
in Britain and Ireland was known as the Kindertransport.
Bobby Hackworth was 11 years old when the Jewish children first arrived at the farm in Millisle. He remembers them looking lost and bewildered, with nothing more than the clothes they stood up in. Most of the children couldn't speak English and it must have been strange for them at first. However they were sent to Millisle School, where each Jewish child was paired up with a Millisle child to help them pick up the language, as well as the local dialect!
The farm was owned by a Dublin man, who had been using it for bleaching linen. When the Jewish Association took it over the aim was for it to be as self sufficient as possible, rather like a kibbutz. The children had chores to do around the farm and even the youngest ones aged six or seven were expected to do their bit. Local farmers gave help and advice on how to make the farm as productive as possible.
The Jewish children integrated well into the local community and Bobby remembers the great fun they had playing football matches every week. Invitations were extended to each other's concerts. Even if you didn't understand the words you could always appreciate a good tune. Bobby also recalls seeing the children in a horse and cart on their way to Donaghadee railway station to pick up goods. They would also have been taken to the pictures in Donaghadee or the travelling concert shows which were held in Millisle during the summer.
In 1945 the children started to return to Europe and by the end of 1946/beginning of 1947 they had all gone. Bobby knows of only one boy who found his parents. One girl, Edith, remained in Northern Ireland and her family set up a clothing factory in Belfast. Bobby would still be in contact with a number of the children and some have been back to see the farm.
Bobby visits primary schools to talk about his wartime experiences and he was also involved in research for a children's book which Marilyn Taylor wrote called "The Far Away Home".
Click Here to listen to Bobby Hackworth's interview with Susan Skinner, from BBC NI's Big Yellow Bus , in November 2003 for the Your Place & Mine programme.
(To access audio and video on your place and mine you need RealPlayer .)
Do you remember the farm at Millisle
or did you ever meet any of the children? There
was a Jewish home in the Cookstown area as well
- do you know anything about it? To share any
information or stories you have fill in the form
at the bottom of the page.
Bobby also spoke to Susan about his memories of the Belfast Blitz and the German bombers circling over Millisle before or possibly after dropping their bombs. He remembers standing in the street watching the flares, the sky a mass of flames. You can read other people's memories of the Belfast Blitz here at Your Place & mine by visiting the 'N. Ireland during two World Wars' page and clicking on the appropriate links.
Dana Sieglova - Feb '08
I would like to contact Fr. Corner,who spoke on the programme " The Farm" today.
I am a czech lady living in Donaghadee and would be interested in hearing her
story about the time she spent at MIllisle. would it be possible to have her
address , please.
Alison Hutchinson - Feb '07
Our pupils have made a wonderful DVD about lifee on this farm , with interviews
of survivors Millisle Primary School