Feeling of fear at evacuation

Eastbourne evacuees
Eastbourne evacuees

In the early 1940s I was evacuated with my mother and brother to Winchcombe.

How we got there I cannot remember but the thing that stays in my mind was a feeling of fear, always.

I remember waiting on the high pavement: a group of 19 women and children with nowhere to go. It was decided to put us all in the pub opposite for the night.

We sat up all night in an upstairs room, full of furniture.

The next day we were put in a row of four cottages, the end one was full of waste paper.

The lady in charge told us the scouts had worked hard cleaning them up for us. That night as we lay on the floor in groups we heard the mice.

Mum said if they’re mice, they’ve got boots on. She and other mums were convinced it was rats we could hear.

The mums refused to stay there (they would go home first) so we were put into a place that had had soldiers billeted there previously.

The palliasses we had were horrible. Our stay there was short because more military were due.

By now the powers that be had found an old pub called Unicorn House and re-opened it. There were mice there as well as spiders, they looked huge too. I was so thankful I shared a bed with my mother.

Our school was just opposite Unicorn House. I really hated going there, the local children were not very friendly. Thinking about it, I’m not surprised, we must have looked a real scruffy bunch.

My family did not stay long. Just after we arrived home we developed scabies and had to have sulphur baths and use ointment on the sores. It was not pleasant. My mother was convinced we caught scabies from the palliasses. All in all not a very nice experience.

However, I have just revisited Winchcombe and found it to be a really nice village. I do hope the high pavement stays just the way it is and must be looked upon as a big part of the local history.

It certainly brought back memories for me.

I’m happy that I decided to go back again.

Doreen Huggett

(nee Erridge),

Clarence Road.

Eastbourne is my home town and I enjoy your Looking Back section.

This year especially I am thinking of my former class mates at the Hampden Park schools as we are celebrating our 70th birthdays.

Although living locally, most of us were born at Lingfield in Surrey as out mums went to Surrey Hall for their confinement due to the risk of bombing in Eastbourne.

They stayed for ten days after the birth and then returned home.

Happy Birthday to everyone.

Joan Lee

(nee Fisher),

Rotunda Road.

I recently visited my home town of Eastbourne. I was born at 4 Warrior Square so was interested to see the article in your paper about evacuation.

I also went to Christchurch School with my two sisters Elsie and Ivy. I was evacuated in July 1940, a day before my sixth birthday so my cards were in my case.

A boy from 1 Warrior Square went with us and he was called Kenny Wilson I think.

He was in one billet with me but then moved to another family.

My two sisters were called Elsie and Ivy. I think Elsie would be aged about eight years and Ivy ten years.

The photo is taken with the family they were placed with namely Aunty Kath.

I was away I think about three years but my sisters didn’t come home until a lot later.

Peggy Walker

(nee Simpson),

Huntingdown, York