EVACUEES - were your parents or grandparents evacuated during the 1939-45 war?

(48 Posts)
MrsBates Mon 22-Sep-08 17:04:43

What was it like for them and how did it affect their feelings for their parents? My parents were evacuated and I have been reading a lot about it recently. What would you happen these days - would parents let their children go to live with unknown strangers again? What has changed? Just musing really.

KristinaM Mon 22-Sep-08 18:50:08

my mother was evacuated and she hated it so much she came home. her parenst sent her to live with cousins in teh country instead

she is a very mixed up person , I dont knwo if being evacuated coudl be part of it

interetsing question

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 18:51:02

Have you see the play The End Of Everthing Ever? By NIE theatre company


ivykaty44 Mon 22-Sep-08 18:53:14

Could be similar to the going to boarding school thread last week - mixed up where they any way or was it being sent away that did it?

My dad stayed in London all through the war, a friedn was sent away from Birmingham to the country and at the end of the war his parents didn't want him back so his foster parents adopted him so sad and happy....

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Mon 22-Sep-08 19:03:10

My father was evacuated to Sherborne in Dorset. It was one of the happiest times of his life as he came from a very deprived environment in Portsmouth. He was only three when he went, six when he returned. However.. his mother died while he was away (of TB) and he never saw her again, had no memeories of her. We have ONE photo of her with him when he was a a baby. He had a terrible childhood, fatehr who drank, stepmother who hated him and his older sister.# The epople who looked after him in Dorset are obviously now long gone, but I sometimes think about trying to seek out theit relatives to off a bealted thanks for providing a very happy episode in an otherwise unhappy childhood.

MrsBates Mon 22-Sep-08 19:05:52

My mum was evacuated to Suffolk. She never said she hated it but I think she was with kind people and absolutely loved the countryside - she was from the East End. But my nan hated the whole thing so she left London too, with my auntie who was a baby, and got them a house together with my great aunt and mum's cousins. My grandad was in the army. Mum says when she got on the train (feeling quite excited) she saw him in uniform at the back of the crowd with tears pouring down his face.

On the whole it sounded as if my mum had a fantastic time although my nan, who was only in her early 20's was a sassy lady. She went to a manor house and pretty much demanded use of their lodge which she was eventually given. I've been to see it and it's gorgeous now. My auntie asked for her ashes to be scattered in the village so I guess for her it was all a wonderful time.

My dad though was only 4 when the war started and was senf to Sussex with some of his sisters. He lived in a big house with kind adults but children who bullied him and made his life a misery. Then he moved to live with an old woman who gave him a bible for his birthday present and nicked all his Red Cross parcels to give to her grandson. He couldn't wait to get back to London. It gave him an independence and sense of adventure though, he thinksm, but distanced him from his dad.

I looked at photos of mothers at the station - they weren't allowed onto the platforms usually and were pressed up to the railings of a locked gate. Imagine seeing my babies sent off to who knew where with their little cases and gas masks. Devasting. I wonder what the mothers did when they left the station? Cried, pulled themselves together and put the kettle on I suppose. I couldn't bear it. Think I'd have been like my nan and gone too.

I haven't seen the play. I will google it. Thanks.

ComeOVeneer Mon 22-Sep-08 19:06:50

Parents weren't born yet, grandparents were either fighting in the war (grandfathers both in RAF, paternal grandmother a nurse) and maternal grandmother was in the french resistance. (she helped smuggle my greatuncle to the coast of occupied france to a boat back to england and came and visited him after the war, meet his younger brother and the rest is history! grin

MrsBates Mon 22-Sep-08 19:07:16

or devastating even...

brimfull Mon 22-Sep-08 19:10:06

My mum was evacuated from Glasgow to Aran.

She was just telling me about it the other day,it wasn't for long and she went with her two brothers and her Auntie who was a teengaer so she never felt abandoned luckily.

Habbibu Mon 22-Sep-08 19:11:20

My grandmother housed an evacuee - don't know how he felt, I'm afraid, but his parents were very grateful. They ran a sweet factory, and sent many many packages of sweets for him to share with the family. So endless sweet supplies, together with living on a farm, having milk, eggs, cream and bacon on the doorstep, meant rationing rather passed the family by...

ivykaty44 Mon 22-Sep-08 19:13:30

Always makes me think of Goodnight Mr Tom, such a lovely but sad book sad

pgwithnumber3 Mon 22-Sep-08 19:15:32

My Grandmother was evacuated and her mother told her not to let them be separated. Obviously, nobody wants to house 6 unruly kids, so they got the shitty end of the stick and ended up in an awful house with awful guardians. They were not allowed to eat with the family etc. Really sad for a child to have to deal with at such a young age. We don't know we're born.

Nbg Mon 22-Sep-08 19:16:38

My nanna was evacuated to her Auntie in Devon, from Hull.
She was lucky that she had someone she knew and also had her sister too.

She has very fond memories of going down there and still loves to go back.
Tbh I think she thinks of Devon as her real home.
Although she finds it upsetting when she thinks of what her mum went through without her children and being stuck in Hull whilst it was being bombed.

Mercy Mon 22-Sep-08 19:17:28

I recently did a school history thingy and it was fascinating to read and hear the (few remaining) stories of those school children who were evacuated from London. Some of them were evacuated twice during the course of the 2nd WW. it seems many stayed though.

My mum grew up in Devon and still remembers hiding under the kitchen table and hearing bombs landing and going off in the distance.

Peachy Mon 22-Sep-08 19:20:30

There's a BBC programme on about this Christmas, Michael Aspel is hosting (only know becuase DH's Aunt was hs (girl?) friend then LOL, they're making the programme where they all still live)

You might find it interesting

MrsBates Mon 22-Sep-08 19:55:55

Thanks Peachy - I will look out for it. My nan had a few flings with GIs which upset my mum she she worshipped her dad. But my mum had a romance when she was 13 with a black yank. Can't imagine what that was like in those days! My brother and I have found a load of letters and his dog tags which I can't wait to read, but we are going to look at them together. Think some of these experiences gave my mum a difficult attitude to men - maybe the long separation from her dad (5 years with a few visits on leave). And my nan was a bit of a goer, as they say, so a bit unsettling seeing your mum get up to all that. Mum was very attractive but was needy for male attention - set huge store by blokes fancying her so never really had any male friends who weren't gay.

MrsGuyof G - one of my grandad's jobs in the army was digging bodies out of rubble in Portsmouth after heavy bombing. I'm glad your Dad wasn't there.

Peachy Tue 23-Sep-08 09:18:22

I know what it was like n those days- we're pretty sure my FIL's Dad was a black GI: FIL was abandoned as a small toddler because, as far as we can work out, of the stigma.

I mean, if you dont want the baby you give it up at birth right, not 18 months - 2 years down the line?

must have been hellish.

Sadly FIL finally tracked his birth Mum down but missed her death by a few months; her family refuse to communicate with him.

Peachy Tue 23-Sep-08 09:19:33

(oh and we have other similarities- my Grandad's job was rescuing the bodies of airmen from crashes)

tallulah Fri 26-Sep-08 18:13:58

My dad was evacuated from Portsmouth several times during the war. He was 6 when it started and 12 when it ended. One time he was sent with the school (the whole school from what I can gather) and I think this was towards the end of the war. Earlier he went with his mother and sister to the IoW to stay with his mum's relatives. Apparently they didn't stay too long because gran found it "boring" !

It didn't seem to have affected him in any way (apart from endless tales about walking 5 miles to school in a Pythonesque manner hmm )

Celia2 Fri 26-Sep-08 18:59:12

Tallulah, my Dad was evacuated to Portsmouth and then to Weymouth! I am sure the person organising it must have made an error!

tallulah Fri 26-Sep-08 20:26:52


PortAndLemon Fri 26-Sep-08 20:30:10

My mother wasn't born yet; my father was too young, but his three elder brothers were evacuated (from Birmingham). One of his brothers was placed with a childless couple who were apparently desperate to adopt him when the war finished, but his parents (understandably enough) wanted him back!

Heated Fri 26-Sep-08 20:35:00

My mother was evacuated from the Norfolk coast (site of 1st doodlebug bomb) with her older brother and mother to the countryside. My grandfather was in the navy.

They came back after a few months as my grandfather broke his ankle on the docks & couldn't sail with his ship. His ship was later torpedoed with huge loss of life. He became a warden instead.

Whilst walking along the front, my grandfather and my mum had to dive into a gully when a plane machine-gunned the road.

Califrau Fri 26-Sep-08 20:42:32

My Nan was pregnant with my aunt so she and Dad got evacuated from the Isle of Dogs to SLOUGH - a place people get evacuated from these days! My Grandad stayed behind. My Nan was like Gran from the Giles Cartoons. When I got married, my aunt gave me a love letter that Grandad had written to her. They wrote to each other every day. The letter is breathtaking. You would never believe the woman he was talking about was my Nan. I think it was easier for Dad as he had Nan with him. I am not sure how long they were away. Dad is in the process of writing down all this kind of stuff on the computer. My bro and I are itching to get our hands on it.

yourke Fri 26-Sep-08 21:07:04

Both my mum and dad were evacuated from Liverpool. My dad went at first to a large house in Hoylake (the Wirral), where only the chauffeur and housekeeper were in residence as the family who lived there had gone to Canada. He and his brother were chauffeur driven to school every day and were really enjoying themselves until my grandmother turned up 3wks later saying the war was over and she was taking them home! Needless to say they ended up being evacuated again, this time to North Wales. During his time there he was taught to sing All Through the Night in welsh which he can still sing but has no idea what it means.

My mother and her twin brother were only 3, so were evacutated with their mother and 5 brothers and sisters to Bets-y-coed and Tall-y-bont (apologies for spellings here!). Year's later we all visited the house in Bets-y-Coed and Tall-y-Bont, and the same family still lived in both houses. We ended up staying for tea!

southeastastra Fri 26-Sep-08 21:09:21

yes i did a thread not long back

edam Fri 26-Sep-08 21:10:54

My grandmother was an adult evacuee - she was a teacher and went with her class to North Wales (from Birkenhead, I think). Worked out well for her (and me) as that's where she met my Grandad. I imagine it wasn't much fun for the poor kids, though.

edam Fri 26-Sep-08 21:13:15

Oh, have just remembered, close family friend of my mother's once mentioned being evacuated from London to South Wales. Poor woman was abused by the father of the family. Couldn't tell anyone, had to put up with it for the duration. sad

midnightexpress Fri 26-Sep-08 21:17:27

My dad lived in rural Aberdeenshire and wasn't evacuated but had a wee Glaswegian evacuee by the name of Gilbert McWhirter McClune who came to stay and wreaked havoc on their peaceful village life. grin

PussinJimmyChoos Fri 26-Sep-08 21:18:59

My Gran was evacuated from Plymouth down to St Ives in Cornwall with her little brother. She doesn't say too much now but I know that although the people she lived with were kind, it was a grim existence...she mothered her little brother a lot to make it easier for him and when he grew up and went abroad with the army and she was crying, he jokingly gave her a chewing gum wrapper to remember him by...he died about 7 years ago and she still had the chewing gum wrapper...bless her

spicemonster Fri 26-Sep-08 21:20:56

My mum was but didn't last long because when my gran when to visit, my mum looked up and said 'hello auntie' so that was that, straight back to London.

My dad was never evacuated - my nan didn't want to be without her children.

In any case, both parents were from rural Wales so would have gone to stay with family, not strangers. I don't know what would happen now. I can imagine it would be very different.

Califrau Fri 26-Sep-08 21:22:27

Gilbert McWhirter McClune grin The stuff of legends! I can just see him now grin

positivepainter Thu 03-Sep-09 10:02:06

I live in an Aberdeenshire Village and I would love to know more about the evacuees in our area? Our P7 pupils are doing ww2 as their project, do you know any stories about Gilbert McWhirter McClune?

Mamazon Thu 03-Sep-09 10:06:53

my great gran ran an east end pub. so when the war broke out my grandad was evacutated quite early on.
he was sent to Stoke sub hamdon and it was always a very fond memory for him. in fact every year we went to Devon on holiday we we stop at the village's nature rerserve.
and it is now one of my mots favourate places on earth.

He never spoke negativly about his experience but i guess e was an older teen.
he later fought in the war so he must have been 13/14 i guess.

fruitshootsandheaves Thu 03-Sep-09 10:17:41

My mum was evacuated from the East End to relatives in Southampton. I wished I had asked her more about it but she was really young so probably didnt remember much.

My dad lived in North Finchley and his parents wanted to keep the children with them. He remembers the war from the point of view of an 8 year old boy. Very exciting and not really scary.
However 7 houses along the bottom of his garden were destroyed by a bomb and the neghbours in them all killed and he turned up to school one morning to find it wasn't there! just a heap of rubble.
They were very lucky. My Aunt still lives in the same house with the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden.

onehitwonder Thu 03-Sep-09 10:18:38

My nan who is now 94 was evacuated with my uncle who was a toddler and my mum who was a baby at the time to wales from south east london. They lived in a caravan - I think? I can't imagine what that was like with 2 young children. I think she went as she had a stillbirth between the two children, which she believes was caused by a fall during an air raid sad.
Meanwhile my Grandad who was in a protected occupation (engineering) stayed at home and started a very long running affair with a neighbour who had been bombed out, which my nan found out about years later, having thought that this women was a friend. Their marriage survived but of course my nan was devastated. So evacuation did have very serious repercussions for her.

twirlymum Thu 03-Sep-09 10:41:53

My dad was evacuated from peckham to suffolk, but he was with his mum and two sisters. He says it was great, no school, they lived on a farm, so no food shortages really. He tells my kids stories about it, such as hearing a doodlebug go over. All the time you could hear it droning it was ok as it was still moving, but as soon as it stopped he said your blood ran cold, as it could land anywhere.
They then went to Ireland for a year (where my nan was from). He remembers going to school there, and being stared at and pointed at. It was then that he realised he was the only child wearing shoes.

babster Thu 03-Sep-09 10:56:35

My nan housed a Jewish girl whose school was evacuated from London to the Fens. They got on well - my nan appreciated the company as she had a small baby and my grandad was away working in a munitions factory - and they stayed in touch until my nan died. When my mother came along later, she remembers being compared unfavourably to the saintly Rosalind, who was neat and orderly... everything my mum wasn't!

sweetnitanitro Thu 03-Sep-09 11:16:06

My Granddad was evacuated from North London to Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire and that's how he met my Grannie grin

My MIL was evacuated from London, don't know anymore than that apart from my FIL was saying she stayed somewhere with lots of animals and it was finding out what happened to them that made her to decide to become a vegetarian, something along the lines of being served up rabbit for tea and finding the pet rabbit had vanished.

Libra Thu 03-Sep-09 11:29:03

Hi PositivePainter - which Aberdeenshire village? I am in Newburgh.

sheepgomeep Tue 15-Sep-09 11:59:15

My nan was evacuated and was abused both physically and mentally. She had a very hard time. She rarely talks about it

LilRedWG Mon 28-Sep-09 11:44:34

My Dad was evacuated with his sister. The woman who took them did so only for the money, treated them as servants and didn't feed them well. He hated talking about it and those few details were gleaned over the space of 35 years.

Mum wasn't evacuated - he parents took the view, we'll live together and die together; that being said her Dad was at sea for the war in the RN.

Windandsand Mon 23-Apr-12 13:20:36

My dad was evacuated at 3 from london to hants. He was there til the end of the war. He didn't like to talk about it. His 5 sisters were evacuated separately all over the coast. His dad was killed in the war and he has no memory of him. Really sad.

ivykaty44 Fri 27-Apr-12 17:52:10

my freinds dad was evacuated during the war - he went to a lovely family in the Devon countryside and at the end of the war his parents didn't want himt o return to them - I can't imagine not wanting my own child back after 5 years, but apparently it wasn't uncommon.

Fortunately for this lad his evacuation parents where only to happy to adopt him and they did, he had a good home life and was really wanted by them, so for him it was a happy ending

goingtoexplodesoon Fri 24-Aug-12 00:25:06

My mum was evacuated from Southend to Forest of Dean. She had seven sisters and three brothers, but only five were evacuated. She lived with her brother on the farm. It was a generally friendly, well off, family who left most of the care to a housekeeper who beat and abused them until they both ran away to find their other siblings. They were returned and ran off many times until the family who were meant to be looking after them, unaware of the abuse, turned them out.sad They went to live with their siblings for the remainder of the war. She was twelve at the time and had just got into a grammar school, so lost a lot when she went to a tiny village school where most kids left at fourteen and had classes of about forty five.

She came back aged seventeen, and, understandably, never had a good relationship with her mother. Her father had died a few years after her birth, and she suddenly had a step-father who wasn't kind (though he wasn't abusive) and a new half-sister. Everything had changed and I never met my grandmother because they argued a lot.

We went to visit the second family which looked after her, and stayed for lunch. smile

NeverSayNoToDessert Wed 29-Aug-12 01:18:32

My mother was evacuated from London. She was evacuated 1939, but returned in 1940, to be sent out again. She had a very happy life in a small village and the family which took her in owned their own pig (apparently a big thing then) and she had loads of friends and fun. She had been practically a slum-child up until then. She was one of the ones who went 'what's a cow?' and were afraid of squirrels. My father was a kid on the Kindertransport- he was taken in by the same family. They were 5 (mother) and 7 (father) at the time but stayed together the rest of their life!

My Nan and her sisters were sent to Kent and as there were 5 of them they ended up in the village Manor House. They were treated as children of the rich household and sent to school and church with the children of the Lord and Lady, but were effectively raised by the maids there.

My DAunt went home after a year as she was 14 and was expected by her mother to help at home and get a job. She resented her mother for this as her stepfather was a violent drunk. She ended up looking after her mother right into her 40's and never married or had children, despite dearly wanting them. She tells me she's never felt 100% happy with her life and has many regrets, although she leads a full and active life, she feels unfulfilled. This makes me very sad.

My DNan and other sisters stayed in the Manor for the rest of the war. I know my DNan enjoyed it there, and she and my aunts stayed in touch with the 2 maids who raised them until they died, especially the younger one, H. They- especially my eldest aunt- viewed H as a second mother and by all accounts she was a better mother to them then thier natural mother. I remember going down to visit her many times as a child. She was a lovely lady and told very interesting stories about her life. We all still miss her.

I'd say the experience enhanced my Nan's life. Without it, they never wound have met this very special person and felt true maternal love which was sadly lacking in their own mother.

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