Woolwich & Districts
of being evacuated in 1939
war started when I was a child of nine. We lived in Plumstead.
Quite a few of the adults in my area worked at the Woolwich
Arsenal, which was a huge ammunition factory with an historical
parents thought it would be best for me to be evacuated with
the school. Of course, I thought, 'Oh yes, a holiday.' So I
was looking forward to it all.
When the big day arrived I remember standing on the platform
on Plumstead Station at about 8 a.m. with about a hundred other
children, the youngest of which was about 6 years old. I was
holding one small suitcase and a haversack; this was all we
were allowed to have. We, of course, all had a gas mask and
a label attached to us with our name and school written on it.
I think there were only two school groups at the station that
eventually boarded the train, and it became packed solid. There
was no corridor on the train and our compartment was completely
jammed. Once on the train we were given a pound bar of chocolate
each. But during the whole journey we did not have a drink.
None of us was told where we were going, including our parents
and teachers. Just the train driver! It was all very hush hush.
parents were not allowed on the station platform and I recall
my mother looking at us over the fence with all the other mothers.
Most were crying, and so were we. The blinds on the carriages
were all drawn and I know we were all very nervous.
and a half hours later we pulled into a station: Tunbridge Wells,
Kent. From there we were taken to Pembury, a small village.
Next, we were taken to the local school, where we all waited.
A steady stream of adults arrived; they chose the children they
wanted and off they went. I was amongst the last six girls to
be chosen. At last we were chosen! By now it was about 8 p.m.
of us girls were taken to a large farmhouse and made very welcome
by Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon. Mrs. Sturgeon had lost a baby girl
the year before but she also had another little girl. So now
she had five girls to look after! We all got on very well. My
main job was taking the dog out. I stayed there a year and half
and, apart from a touch of homesickness, we experienced a new
kind of life.
'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed
by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive
can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar'