War photo kids reunite

Evacuees from Eastbourne with a photo of themselves from 1940 Eastbourne.'L-R: Peter Fuller, Kitty Thompson nee Moppett, Sheila Cowling nee Harffey and Molly Matthews nee Harffey SUS-150223-124701001

Evacuees from Eastbourne with a photo of themselves from 1940 Eastbourne.'L-R: Peter Fuller, Kitty Thompson nee Moppett, Sheila Cowling nee Harffey and Molly Matthews nee Harffey SUS-150223-124701001

0
Have your say

A group of evacuees who were pictured in an iconic wartime photograph at Eastbourne Railway Station during the Second World War were reunited last week.

The four were among 306 children evacuated from Eastbourne to Radlett near Watford in 1940.

Among them were 13-year-old Sheila Harffey, now Cowling, and her three-year-old sister Molly, now Molly Matthews, who both live in Eastbourne.

Also in the photograph were Peter Fuller and Kitty Moppett.

The four met up at Eastbourne Heritage Centre on Friday to share their memories of being evacuated.

Also in the photograph were Blanche Catt, Dorothy Gray, Doreen Booth, Poppy White, Doreen’s brother, Poppy’s sister and Pam Taylor.

Sheila, who lives in Frobisher Close, said that at the outbreak of the Second World War it was originally Welsh children who were evacuated to Eastbourne amid fears Hitler would invade the west of the country.

But as the war progressed, Dunkirk fell and the threat of attack increased along the south coast, it was local children who were sent to other towns for their own safety.

The four were all at Bourne School at the time they were evacuated.

Sheila built a life in Radlett before moving back to Eastbourne, 12-year-old Peter returned to the town after four years, Kitty, who was also 12 when she was evacuated, remained at Radlett for just one year and Molly, then three, was also sent back to Eastbourne.

Peter, who now lives in Willingdon, was sent to live with the brother of Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin.

The reunion of the four took place at the Eastbourne Heritage Centre in Carlisle Road to promote the current Front Line Eastbourne – WWII exhibition, which is on until the end of April and has been running to commemorate the 75 years since the start of the war.

Exhibits show how Eastbourne was one of the most heavily bombed town’s on the south coast, the endurance of the people who stayed, and the evacuation of the children.

As part of Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion plan to land troops at Pevensey Bay and Cuckmere Haven, Eastbourne was the target of repeated aerial bombardment designed to reduce resistance and harassment from local defenders when the invading troops landed.

Eastbourne Heritage Centre is open Monday Tuesday and Thursday 2-5pm, Friday 10am-1pm, Saturday 10am-4pm (closed Wednesday, Sunday).

Admission to the centre, cinema and Front Line Eastbourne expo: adult £2.50, senior/student £2, Child £1, family of up to two adults and three children is £5.

Tickets include one free second visit within 28 days.

In addition people can visit the website www.eastbourneheritagecentre.co.uk