I was an evacuee during World War 2. We started off on the journey, my two brothers and myself. I was 6 years old and my brother Michael was 4 and Barry was 3. It started with all 3 of us being put on a coach with our mother waving goodbye and strict instructions to me, quote, "look after your brothers".
We travelled a long way past London until it was dark. When we got off the coach we were checked that we had our gas masks and labels with our names on them and our little cases also had our names on them. It was very strange to us all.
All the girls went first, down a long corridor and into a large dormitory. I had no idea where my brothers had gone but made up my mind I would find them. Down the middle of the dormitory was a table and chairs which we sat down on, a meal was served and then we were told which bed was ours. The ladies in charge arranged a visit to the bathroom where we washed and got ready for bed. My bed was in the middle of the room. I remember being given a glass of hot milk when I was in bed which I did not like. Now I put my plan in motion. I lay down and pretended to be asleep and waited. Finally the lights went out but not all of them. I waited a while longer, got out of bed then out of the dormitory into the passage which I had walked. Someone saw me; the lady asked what I was doing. I said I was looking for my brothers 'cos I was worried. She said whe would help me.
On the opposite side of the passage from my dormitory were the boys dormitories, three in all. The last one had a lady and a man sitting at a table. The lady asked them if they could tell her where Barry and Michael Upton were. They looked at some papers, told her and she took me there. The boys were fast asleep in another dormitory in some kind of cots. There was a nurse in the room with them all. I was taken back to my own bed and went to sleep. In the morning we had breakfast and then out to the coaches where my brothers were waiting and off we went again further north.
When we arrived at this big hall, again being separated, but the lady in charge said my brothers and I would be near each other but not in the same house. We land in a place called Waleswood; the people I was placed with had a big red dog called "Peggy" she was a red setter. I stayed with them for 4 years. There was a colliery nearby where the man worked. Some weekends we walked over the dales, past farms and found out we were in Yorkshire, not far from sheffield which was always being bombed. Three nights we slept in an underground shelter on benches. It was cold down there. One summer it was very hot. There was a stream which led to the colliery. We were allowed to paddle in it, under supervision, and it was fun. Every year Mr and Mrs Nichols who I was living with took us to visit their relations at a place called Thorne. We had fun there except for one time. Two boy evacuees were there and they took me fishing to the river outside of town. I was pushed into the water by one of them. I could not seim - someone got me out - I was svery frightened. Another time we visited Sheffield Wednesday Football Stadium. It was smashing. One thing I did not like whilst "evacuated" was the school I went to. We had to walk a mile across farm land, plus meeting up with cows whcih followed us all the way. I did not like cows!
I did have an accident when I was nine. I was run over by a van. My kneecap was damaged. I ended up in Sheffield hospital. I was there a long time, my kneecap had to be fixed and I had to learn to walk again. Part of the hospital which I was in was bombed and flattened. Luckily I was in a shelter at the time with many others. We were sent to a big house in the country to recover. There were wounded soldiers there too.
Finally the war ended. My two brothers went home but I could not because I was still having hospital treatment for my knee. A few months later I followed them home. I was ten years old.
Joan Thatcher nee Upton
Now my memories – Barry aged 3 years
The very first thing I can remember of my childhood was about 1941 I was 3 years old.
I lived in a row of terraced houses which had toilets outside. We also had chickens and a rooster who was in charge so whenever I had to go to the toilet and he was near, he would chase me.
I remember it was very cold in the winter and we had lots of snow which got very deep. I can remember having a train built with snow which I could get into like being a train driver. Wow!. That was great!.
I was often ill with a chest problem and can remember having a Kaolin poultice put on my chest which was heated up in a tin by putting it into a saucepan of hot water. Boy did that hurt, and made me cry. The poultice once heated was spread onto a towel of some kind and then put onto my chest and secured.
I would wake up each morning to the sound of steam trains shunting trucks of coal at the nearby colliery. A wonderful sound !
I knew a girl that lived two doors from me. She was a little bit older than me and her name was Joan. When I was old enough to go to school I went with her. We had to cross a field to get to school and sometimes there were cows in the field. I also got friendly with a boy called Michael who also had the same surname as me [Upton]. I thought that was strange because Joan also had the same surname !!
I found it all a bit confusing [not knowing they were my brother and sister]
One thing I did regularly when I got a little older, was to go with ‘this’ man to change the wireless accumulator; without this we could not listen to the wireless.
One day I went with this lady who had a girl called Janet with her. She picked up Joan from No. 32 and we went, [the three of us] to pick up Michael and the four of us had a photo taken. I had no idea why this happened. That was in 1942. I now know that I was a very lucky boy because I had lots of toys to play with.
Then in 1944, my whole world changed.One morning a man in army uniform came and picked me up then went and picked up Michael – he took us away on a train. I thought I was going on holiday. We ended up at Brighton.
I then found out that the soldier was my father. The lady with the photo was my mother and Michael, Joan, and Janet were my brother and sisters.
I cried a lot knowing that I was not going back [to Waleswood]
My first memory – I lived only a few doors away from you Barry but because I was ‘a very naughty boy’ they didn’t want me to stay with them so I was moved to a house very near to the school. I was about 5 years old and the people I lived with did things like this:
If I did not behave, the people I stayed with would put a cloth over my head, send me upstairs and made me stand in the corner, waited for a while, then I would hear a window open and someone would say “ Your have been a naughty boy” and I did not remember anything after that !! until I woke up the following morning in bed – that happened a few times.
Also, there was a white horse in the field near to where we lived and I was told that it was a ghost and could tell if I had been a bad boy so I would have to behave whilst at school.
I don’t remember much else, not a very happy memory.