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John Elliott - Evacuation a Negative Experience?

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:08 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

John Elliott aged about 13 was evacuated to a farm in Cumbria with his two younger brothers Alan and Davy from Tyne Dock, South Shields. One of the children wet the bed and the property owner beat the child. In retaliation the children sank the farmers boat and "dad and his two brothers legged it in the middle of the night and came back, walked all the way home from Cumbria to Tyne Dock in South Shields" a distance of about 100 miles!

Unfortunately when they returned home "they found out that their mother had run off with another man, and they were looked after by family members". John then turned 14 so took a job at the local coal mine. His father then returned home on compassionate leave and dragged John out of the pit.

John became an apprentice welder in the shipyards. In October 1941 he was crossing the Market Place "when the sirens went off and he decided that he wasn't going to go down in the shelter. He couldn't be bothered, he wanted his tea, he was hungry. So he just started to run, the bomb fell on the marketplace, killing most people. It sealed off the bomb shelter under the marketplace and my dad was thrown into St. Hilda's, churchyard, came to on a grave and got up and ran all the way home".

John Elliott carried on being a shipyard welder and became chairman of the local Boilermakers Union and in 1975 he was awarded the British Empire Medal.


Item list and details


Person the story/items relate to

John Elliott

Person who shared the story/items

Joanne Howard

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Ocean Road Community Centre, Tyne and Wear on 18 November 2023. The event was organised by South Shields Local History Group.

Record ID

93585 | SSH003