The Bognor Regis evacuation for my sister & me was 1st. September 1939
I don’t have any memories of the lead up to the evacuation. My first recollection was being put in a car with my sister and driven off after an arrival by train. I can only remember that it was a family of 3 with 2 adults and 1 youth who was quite a bit older than me. The first our family knew as to our whereabouts was the card that was returned to mother.
We were very close to the beach
At the bottom of the garden was a large wooden hut that we used to play in, and the youth had made a smashing Meccano model of a lorry or fire engine and quite big , about 12/14 inches as I recall.
For some reason of a night our hosts had to go “somewhere” to turn off a water supply.
Our mothers used to take it in turns to visit their children but would check out others and report when they got home.
There came a time after only a few months that I went back to London, apparently that period was called the phoney war and so believing if that was war we might as well come home. I have no memories now until being in the Bonneville School Clapham SW4 assembly hall with labels tied in out lapels and there were suitcases. Can’t remember any signs of parents though.
We left the school in classes to waiting London Busses in Cavendish road, right opposite the Police station, and I remember lots of grown ups milling about but were they parents or organizers? I don’t know.
The journey to the railway station I don’t remember, my next memory was boarding a train in a carriage that had compartments that would seat about 8 adults. How many there were of us I don’t know I just remember being told we must stay where we were and not to move about. The journey itself I don’t remember except that it was a long journey. I was told that as troop trains had priority on the track we kept being put on sidings. Remember that no one seemed to know our destination. It was said that the journey was over 10 hours long.
Now I was standing on a station platform with ladies around serving orange squash to us. We were in Launceston in Cornwall and although my sister wasn’t too far away we were not clinging to each other, well she might have been keeping me in sight but I was standing with a friend Ronnie Channon.
We were taken from the railway station in transport up the hill to Guildhall Square and there was a lot of milling about and I remember standing there totally bewildered.
I had always been told by my parents that although we could run to a policeman in times of fear or troubles it was a good idea not to let them “notice” you, well where I lived in London anyway, and they only looked for you if they were going to “feel” your collar as my dad said. So, to see a policeman in uniform and very tall making a beeline towards me made me feel a bit concerned, but no! he was looking at me without doubt and he came to Ronnie and me put a hand down on our shoulders and said “I’ll have these two. So what about my sister? It was arranged she would be with a family next door to where I was going to live for the foreseeable future. Which as it happened was a house just a few yards away.
I had been living in a council flat in a block in Poynders Road Clapham, so for me to go into house was a new experience, carpets on the floor and not Lino, chiming clock, smelling fresh was indeed a new experience and it was all so quiet, no noise of busses, traffic .
Ronnie and I were taken into the Drawing Room, Drawing room thought i? what’s that but of course it was the name of a room that was a special room to me. The people introduced themselves as “Auntie”, “Uncle” and Herbert a lad a bit younger than me. So that’s what we called them. My sister returned the arrival card for mum & dad. I only found out later that Auntie had sent a letter to mum & dad
Because of the layout of the house they could not mix boys and girls so that’s why Doreen had to go to another family next door.
Now what time of day this was I have no idea but no doubt I was tired and so my memories beyond this are difficult but if I tell you about where I was, and the life I led then you will understand it was all very pleasant.