Extract from Childhood: Elsie's Story September
and then Verwood.
By Colchester Library
evening my friends and I were playing along the road with a
ball (in West Ham, London). We noticed that several people
had come out of their houses and were talking together, then
some more came out. It was a lovely sunny day but it was
very unusual as some were crying, others just talking.
stopped playing and went to see what was happening, thinking
someone might have died. As we drew near, one of the men
could see we were uneasy and put his arms around us and said
"don't worry, nobody has died" but the news on the
wireless said war has been declared. Some of the older
people were upset because they had lost family in the last
war - killed or wounded. We went to school and were told all
that we were to do was not to wander off from our homes when
the planes came over dropping bombs it was frightening. Such
noise - all our windows were blown out. My father covered
the windows with boards of wood, so it was always dark so we
had to keep the lights on all day. At night outside it was
dark too as no street lights were on. That was so that the
planes could not see what they were bombing. We were issued
with gas masks. One day at school we were all given a letter
to give our parents. It was to ask if our parents would like
us be sent off to a less dangerous area. My parents said
"yes" so I was sent to school with a change of
clothes to be kept at school until arrangements were made
for our evacuation.
had to take a pack of sandwiches. This same routine went on
for about six weeks. Then one day we were told to keep our
coats on, pick up our clothes, gas masks round our necks and
we walked in rows of two's, all excited at this new
adventure, marching off to the railway station. We did not
know where we'd be going. Some of the children were
frightened of going away, but the teachers were very kind
and held their hand as they walked along. At the station the
teacher called out our names and we got onto the train.
was evacuated to Bath, but later
returned to London. Then things
got bad again.)
When we went to church on Sunday
morning my father and I were in the choir. The parson has a
talk with my father and asked if he would like me to be
evacuated as times were worse now than ever. So I was sent
away again, through the church. Again we were taken to a
village hall. It was in Verwood in
. I was soon
picked out by a Mr and Mrs Brown who had a daughter two
years younger than me and a son about eight years older.
They had a small farm with three cows and some farm
land against the moor where some ponies roamed. I was
Starlight Farm, Verwood, Dorset. I soon settled in and
Eileen liked having someone to play with. Her big brother
Victor was deaf and very nice. One week later I was in
school and it was so different. I had already done the work
they were doing in
, but they
didn't do much sport as it was a small school with few
facilities for sport.
Girls did not play much with boys.
Some skipped by otherwise stood in little groups. At the
weekends Eileen and I would take the milk and cream to the
people who lived in the lane to the farm. At
one house the man and woman were both artists and they had
five kittens. I liked them. The mother to the kittens had
got knocked down and the vet could pot save her so we used
to help feed these baby kittens and it took quite a while.
Mr and Mrs Browns were about 10 years older than my parents
and had their children later in life....
day they had a letter from my father to pay for my coach
fare back to Victoria Station. I was grateful for all of the
kind people who took care of us, especially our teachers who
visited us as often as they could at the school or in the
homes we were at.