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Teaching Dance to POWs and Mine Clearance Service Group

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:37 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor discussed the story of his mother, Enid Frost. The contributor shared that Enid had a middle class lifestyle and was married at 21 years old. Enid was taken out of school when the Great Depression began in 1929 so that her brother could continue with his education. The contributor noted that Enid experienced disapproval from her parents for being a dancer, and he mentioned her involvement in the Women's League for Health and Beauty. Enid continued dance classes through the war, and she married as a dance teacher during the war. The contributor highlighted that the wartime brought about new freedoms for women, and Enid had even instructed some prisoners of war in dance. The contributor noted that his mother was not open about her experiences during the war.

The contributor also discussed the story of his father, Thomas Evered. The contributor advised that Thomas appreciated that the Army gave people a common purpose. Thomas was working as a chartered surveyor when he applied to join the Army at the start of the Second World War; however, he was rejected due to his age. Thomas then joined the Home Guard and, in 1942 or 1943, he applied for a commission with the Royal Engineers. The contributor shared that Thomas was selected for a mime clearance course in February 1944, and he was prepared for the June 1944 invasion. Thomas was sent to France in September 1944, then moved to Brussels, then Germany, and finally stationed in the East Netherlands. By 1945, Thomas was in command of the mine clearance service group, which was primarily comprised of prisoners of war. The contributor noted that there were 900 to 1,200 men divided into approximately 6 groups. He explained that the mine clearance service group covered 1,800 square kilometres where 80,000 mines had been placed without minefield charts due to Germany panicking. There was a particularly high casualty rate for this mission. The contributor stated that Thomas stayed in the Army until 1948, and he did not speak much about his wartime experiences.

The contributor also shared his own personal memories from the Second World War. He recalled evacuations, and he lived for 2 to 3 years with his grandmother. The contributor stated that he was fed throughout the war, but not overly so, and he recalled coupons that were given to his aunt to buy chicken feed. The contributor noted that bombs had been dropped 7 or 8 miles away from where he was living at the time. He also recalled that prisoners of war from a nearby camp would help him in the garden and take lessons at his mother's dance school. The contributor noted that he was 5 years old when the war ended, and he remembered life getting even worse just after the war. The contributor shared that he was close to starving and that, due to a very harsh winter in 1947, his school had closed.

History

Item list and details

Photos of Thomas Evered, mess room photos, and others. Notes on mine clearance course from 1944. Tribute album for Mine Clearance Service Group 1946. Miscellaneous documents. Bridge opening programme and invitation. Emergency commission and Army form B199A. Release book and record of service for Thomas Evered. PDF file that tells the story of my Thomas Evered's service and the contributor's patchy memories of the war years and those that followed.

Person the story/items relate to

Enid Frost and Thomas Evered

Person who shared the story/items

David Charles Evered

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Enid Frost and Thomas Evered were the contributor's parents.

Type of submission

Shared at West Berkshire Museum, Newbury on 17 January 2024.

Record ID

116550 | NEW014