We want to hear stories from you or someone you know who was an evacuee during the war. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them below.
My mother Jean Bentley, nee Kemsley, remembers the evacuee who came to live on their farm outside Maidstone, Kent in the early part of the War. He was David Green of “90 Green Street, Chislehurst, Kent” and whenever they, or any of my mother’s friends asked his name, he always gave his name and full address! Unfortunately my mother has not kept up contact with David.
I have a photo of my mother’s birthday on June 11th 1940, it would have been her 11th. She is seated on her pony, surrounded by her Maidsone friends. The shepherd Buster is holding her pony’s reins. In addition to her friends, the picture also shows her friend Pat Hobbs, my godmother Margaret Fullager (now in Melbourne, Australia) and my uncle Trevor Kemsley (who still farms part of the original farm) . The gardener’s children Enid and Joyce are there and David too, who looks about 8.
My mother said that they all had great fun playing together, but that David was sent somewhere else when the Blitz began, as my grandmother thought that Maidstone would be caught in any bombing raids and not a safe place for an evacuee.
During the Second World War thousands of children were evacuated from inner city and semi industrial areas that were likely to be bombed. They were moved out to more rural locations where, it I was hoped, they would be more safe.
The greatest number of children to find themselves on the move came from the big cities London, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham and a small percentage of them found themselves heading to South Staffordshire.
Most of those allocated to Wombourne and the immediate area came from London, arriving by train and finding themselves somewhat bewildered by their new surroundings. Many had never seen a cow nor a field of corn before and some were overwhelmed by the distinctive “country smells” that they encountered for the first time.
One of those evacuated from North London was Fred Machin whose memories are recorded in the book ” Travelling Light”. He was just 12 when he was sent to Wombourne and he vividly recounts how, when he boarded the train (along with his two sisters) he was told that he was going to the seaside. His disappointment was immense when he found out how far from the sea he was to be (he had never been to the coast) and always referred to the village as ” Womboume-onSea”. Indeed many more of the evacuees followed suit and, for a while at least, even some of the locals starting using the name!