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Jeanne Clarke, a Nine-Year-Old Evacuee

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:51 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

I am 93 now, but I remember the good as well as the bad times, and how much a sense of humour helped both adults and children during the war. There was a lot of fear about but our parents were wonderful and kept up our morale. Often German bombers dropped bombs (leftover from bombing Coventry) on us!

I was nine years old in 1939 and lived on the border of Woodford, Essex. My memories are of evacuation, to relatives in Yorkshire, where I was unhappy being away from my parents, being bombed. My great-aunt, where I was sent, had two sons away serving in the army and was obviously worried about them. She had no time for me. I just had to fit in and get on as best I could. She once said to me that she would rather have them back at home than have me there, - and I was only nine!

I told my mother that I would rather die from the bombs in London than stay there and, eventually, I was allowed to go back home and have what to me was the excitement of sleeping in the Anderson Shelter in the garden, and picking up shrapnel in the street. We also slept in the cupboard under the stairs, which smelt of gas!

I was allowed to stay at home with my parents and two little sisters, even though we experienced the buzz-bombs and walked to school, hearing the moan of sirens! When we did hear them, we ran like mad to a shelter in any near place.

I remember the excitement I felt when, one day, we went into an Underground Station to shelter. When the sirens sounded, it was such fun. People sang songs. They played cards. Everyone joined in, all underground. I also felt guilty, because I felt it was so exciting, but I wasn't very old.

I wonder if anyone else remembers the "Pig Bins"? There was one on almost every street in London, for collecting food scraps to feed to pigs. We didn't have a pig, but some people did.

Near our home, on the way to school, was a railway line, called "Churchill's Railway”, going out to Essex. I suppose it was called that because he instigated it. Churchill got a lot of criticism, but he was a wonderful leader during the war.


Person the story/items relate to

Jeanne Clarke and family

Person who shared the story/items

Jeanne Clarke

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Jeanne is the contributor.

Type of submission

Shared at Ahmadiyyah Mosque Hall, Warwickshire on 7 October 2023. The event was organised by Leamington History Group.

Record ID

99601 | LEA094