University of Oxford
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War-Time Evacuation: A Journey of Adoption

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:17 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

I was born in March 1939 in Peckham, South London, the seventh of nine children. We were dirt poor, and all lived in a two-room council flat.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, my surviving older siblings, my mother and I were evacuated to the small village of Danehill in Sussex. There we were billeted with Wally and Annie Dixon as their only child, Alec, had already left home. Wally worked as a lengths man for the council (looking after a specific length of highway) and lived in a cottage that came with the job. Danehill didn't have electricity or running water at that time, so light was from paraffin lamps and candles, and water was pumped from a well.

As time went on, my older siblings either moved on to other local families or were sent away to the West Country. My mother returned to London to be with my father, and I remained in Danehill being brought up by Wally and Annie.

My mother would come for visits to escape the bombing in London and, one day, she and Annie were messing around when I said to her, "Don't you do that to my mum". This took both women by surprise as neither had realised that I now looked upon Annie as my mother. This must have stirred something in my mother for she obviously went back to London and spoke to my father about it. It was eventually decided that Wally and Annie would formally adopt me, which suited my birth parents as they would have one less mouth to feed.

At the close of the war, my adoption was complete, and my surname changed from Morris to Dixon.
I can't be the only person this happened to during the war, but I have never met another.


Person the story/items relate to

Violet Winifred Barbara Etherton

Person who shared the story/items

Violet Etherton nee Dixon, born Morris

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

She is my mother.

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID