History in Kent => Life Writing => Topic started by: CDP on January 03, 2015, 12:15:15

Title: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: CDP on January 03, 2015, 12:15:15


When the war broke out I had just left the Broadway School and I was due to start at Jefferson Road School (The Central School for Boys ) but  nobody seemed concerned about our schooling, when we were to start or where to go, we thought this arrangement was ideal at first until the weeks went by and we started to feel fed up and guilty ??? (pardon!)

In November it was getting too cold to play on the beach, so  ten or so of us decided to demand to be taught and we marched up to Jefferson Road and presented ourselves to the Headmaster. I don’t think he was very pleased to see us and he took us to his office. He then split us into two groups, and he told us that one group was to attend lessons in the mornings and the other group in the afternoons but, he said, should the air raid sirens sound we were to go home immediately, even if we were on our way to school. Of course most of the school were late most mornings just in case the sirens sounded and we had to walk all that way home again. The sirens of course sounded quite frequently and almost every day there were either practice Fire Drills or practice Air Raids Drills, or practice Gas Drill or practice something, and sometimes the alarms never went off but by word of mouth (usually from another boy !) we heard that we were to go home. I sometimes wondered whether these were false false alarms.!! But no one ever bothered. A few of us started the rumour one day to see what would happen and we cleared the school, even the teachers went home.

Most of the school was evacuated 1939/early 1940. My father went to Alexandria, Egypt with the Dockyard and in June,1940 off I went to Pontlottyn, South Wales to be billeted with another Sheerness boy, Geoffrey Cullum. I was with a Welsh family, Morgan of course. The father was a coal miner, one son, David was the manager of the local food shop and the other son was Abraham, the same age as Geoffrey and myself.

There was also a girl, Margaret, but she had been sent to an Auntie in Chepstow, she was away for nine months. We were told she had been naughty. She went to live with a friend later and we seldom saw her. I remember she used to walk up and down the road for exercise, a very happy girl, always smiling at everyone, especially the men.

Although David made sure that we were never short of food, when Mrs. Morgan was making a plateful of sandwiches for the three us boys for tea, the plateful was never divisible by three, hence the fastest eater had the most sandwiches.

One day. a German Bomber was shot down at Aber-cum-Bargoed, we all walked miles over the mountains to collect pieces of it to exchange for cigarette cards, etc.

We went to the local school and all the Sheerness boys were in the same class and were taught Welsh every Friday afternoon but most weeks the class with the best attendance that particular week was allowed Friday afternoon off school. Naturally us evacuees always won this, much to the annoyance of the local lads and many fights started because of our gloating. We learnt very little Welsh, I think we could all count up to ten, sing the Welsh National Anthem (sometimes with our own words, “ My hen laid an adder….etc. “ these words almost sound the same), and a few hymns. Very useful especially as Welsh was never spoken by the locals.

I was once arrested as a German Spy (I was only about 12 years old) by the local Police Sergeant Annie as we called him. A few of us were flying our home made kites and he said these were wireless aerials and we were signalling to the enemy using radios. We had to go to the Station and were duly charged and then released. We changed our mind about this sergeant when a Welsh friend, Douglas Price, drowned in a feeder lake, all the local people turned out to watch and Annie dived and dived and searched for two hours before he found the body. Annie was as blue as our friend Douglas with the ice cold water, we liked Annie after this. Douglas was on show for a few days after this in his front room, he looked so peaceful. All the boys paid their respects.

One pastime was to slide down the mountain on pieces of cardboard or dustbin lids, imagining that we were skiing and when we tired of this the other lads would roll large boulders down to the road below.

We would also dig out coal from surface seams to take home to earn a few pennies. Another way to make money was to act as look-outs for the miners as they gambled  in groups among the slag heaps and they would get very cross at any false alarm especially when a lad would shout out “Here comes the police “ and then start running as if to hide. It was fun to see them all scatter. Sometimes they wouldn’t stop even to collect their money!!!

One day we discovered a ventilation shaft to a disused mine, it was about 10 feet square very, very deep and strengthened by criss crossed large square wooden beams. We dropped stones down to see how deep it was and a splash occurred after about four seconds, we lit a bonfire and threw it down the shaft to see how deep it was. We tried to see who could climb down farthest, the bravest managed to climb down 20 feet (I could only manage about 10 feet). We played here for a few days and then one day we saw that it had been covered up with tin sheeting and bolted down. Still, perhaps that stopped us from killing ourselves. When you are younger, danger is not really an option is it?

We would combine with the local lads when the boys from Rhymney, the next village, came into our territory to fight, we would meet on the local slag tip and throw the slag at each other. One day the “enemy “ caught one of our side, tied him to a post and used him as a target, throwing stones at him then starting to build a fire at his feet and telling him they were going to roast him alive and eat him. Such fun! He was very pleased when we “charged “ and saved him and cut him free. Then our side caught one of the opposite side and we decided to tattoo him with red hot needles using their bonfire but we let him escape, we weren’t bad really.

We would always go to Chapel twice on Sunday, or was it three times, or even four and, with our nasty coughs and upset tummy and bad headaches we were still expected to sing loudly and enjoy ourselves.


I sat for and passed the exam  for the “Tech “ with six other Sheerness boys and we attended The Bargoed Mining and Technical Institute for three months. I then decided to return home after 18 months away from home. I did not want to become a Welsh miner!!

One thing I did learn there was how to play Rugby properly. Our sports teacher would run up behind us and with his hand behind our neck throw us at our opponents feet and the very hard football boots came in contact with our face. It didn’t ‘alf hurt mum.

The Government then decided that those born in 1928 and I think 1929?,  were to be exempt from the National Service and the Home Guard because our lives had been so badly disrupted and we had such a hard life and our education had been so badly affected as you can see from the above !!!!

Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Sentinel S4 on January 03, 2015, 16:49:17
Very interesting CDP, thank you. The Oracle went to Gorsinon, a little along the road from you guys (he was evacuated from Sittingbourne).

Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: peterchall on January 03, 2015, 18:17:55
   The Government then decided that those born in 1928 and I think 1929?  were to be exempt from  the National Service.......
Those born in 1929, as I was, were not exempt from National Service..
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: lutonman1 on February 23, 2018, 19:13:00
I notice some lads learned Welsh up to ten. I went a bit  further and learnt up to twenty, for those lads here is what they sounded like in english.
2 ---dye
3 ---tree
4 ---pedwell
6 ---wearth
7--- sythe
9 ---na
10 -deg
13 -tree-a-deg
14 -pedwell-a-deg
15 -pump-theg
16 -ena-pump-theg
17 -di -a -pump-theg
18 -orth-a-pump-theg
19 -na-a- pump-theg
20 -egan

Thats how they sounded to me. With an apology.to the Welsh people.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Dave Smith on February 23, 2018, 20:15:31
lutonman 1. Which school did you go to & where were you evacuated to the first time & then where in Wales (the 2nd time?). Presumably " up the valleys"? My friend who went with his brother's school, Gillingham County, ended up with the local pastor at Rhymney & had to learn several hymns & psalms & never missed church/chapel on Sundays - so you got off lightly!
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: conan on February 23, 2018, 22:55:26
Regarding the old method of counting, my son now lives in Cumbria and says that they still use the local dialect number words.

Try this link (I especially like the number 15 in most of them :) )

Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: lutonman1 on February 24, 2018, 03:38:16
I went to Glencoe Road school in Chatham, first evacuation, Gillingham, Rainham, then Newington, where we trooped off. We, my brother and I, were billeted in Church Lane with an old Bargee. After several months we came back with the school, then in June / July, by train again to Neath in South Wales, then by bus to Pontardawe, 10 miles north of Swansea. We stayed for one year, my brother learnt Welsh very quickly, even sang songs in Welsh. we were parted in Pontardawe, I went to Ynysmeudu, one mile east, my brother went to Clydach three miles west of Pontardawe. We only met once, before we came home.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: AlanH on June 22, 2019, 10:08:03
Actually I'm not sure if I should post here at all as I can't remember a thing about being evacuated. But both my elder sister and brother were sent to other places (possible Cornwall), names of which escape me and Mum and me got sent to Sheffield.
First place we went to turned out to be a brothel....... when Mum realised what was happening, with men coming and going at all hours of the day and night, she rushed outside and stopped a car which luckily was being driven by a local doctor. He immediately arranged for both of us (I was only 3 months old) to be taken to a proper evacuees place for however long it was we were there.
I've still got the old ID Card given to everyone in those war time days and I treasure it and keep it safe.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: smiffy on June 22, 2019, 15:12:45
Sheffield seems like a really dangerous place for anyone to have been evacuated to, seeing as it was a prime target for the Luftwaffe. It got plastered during the Blitz, so it was quite right that you and your mother were taken elsewhere.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Mickleburgh on June 23, 2019, 00:04:35

I've still got the old ID Card given to everyone in those war time days and I treasure it and keep it safe.

I too still have my original identity card and number, issued when I was born during the war. It has always amused me that this still remains everyones NHS number to this day. Nonetheless when it was suggested that we have EU style identity cards a few years back - which would have saved passports and made policing easier - it was totally rejected as `un-English` to become a number!
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: AlanH on June 23, 2019, 09:57:07
Hi Smiffy. Apparently Fighter Command had by 1944 taken control of the air space over much of the north which had because of the steel mills etc. been heavily targeted by the Germans. This made the Medway area with the dockyard and factories along the river better targets.
Mum and I were only moved to another address in Sheffield, not another town. I had to prove this to a very vocal Yorky years ago who was astonished when I showed him the card....  and he never paid up with the carton of beer I'd bet him if I was telling the truth. :)

Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: smiffy on June 23, 2019, 13:50:09
Hi AlanH,

I was assuming that this would have been in 1940, hence my comment. I wasn't aware that evacuations were still taking place so late in the war, which proves even a barely functional KHF can still be worth visiting!
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Signals99 on June 24, 2019, 10:06:16
Smiffy,I was evacuated from Rochester much later in the war,reason for our evacuation ,I was told,was the onset of the V1(doodlebug) attacks,not certain of dates but certainly late1944/early 45.
I ended up in Pickering Yorkshire,with a family named Berryman,I remember the best thing ,was after years of rationing,being on a small holding,the abundance of food was amazing,hams ,chicken,rabbit,
Plus unlimited quantities of vegetables.AND no SCHOOLS.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Mickleburgh on June 24, 2019, 14:45:46
Rather think `evacuation` policy changed according to the perceived threat, initially away from the assumed invasion zone, then London, etc, once the Blitz started. But I don`t think it was compulsorily at any time. Several branches of my family were in Gravesend at the outbreak of war but my mother was on holiday in Herne Bay with her parents who were looking at retiring there. With an onslaught of bombing expected at any minute, my father said `stay put` and a little later joined her and they took a house. With a 10 and a 6 year old, the question of their evacuation  arose and Pembrokeshire was mentioned. I believe some HB children did go to West Wales but the story was that my mother heard that the first bombs had been dropped on Pembroke Dock and said "I`ll take my chances"!  She had to take billeted soldiers but was still of an age when she could have been drafted for war work, which would have seen the children sent away, and so decided to have me in 1942. We therefore remained together as a family for the duration.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Mickleburgh on June 27, 2019, 12:12:23
A further thought on Herne Bay during the war,  there were several very young families in our street and my brother (then early teens) once said that there was a cadre of friends of a similar age. There was not such a wholesale evacuation  of families for the duration as happened, as I understand it, in Margate.
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: Dave Smith on July 26, 2019, 13:41:07
I did reply to this a month or so ago but it wasn't recorded. So, try again! I was an 8 year old at Barnsole Road School when we were evacuated, complete with name label, gas mask & small suit case, to Herne Bay on 2nd September 1939.Train from Gillingham. Some mothers came with us as " helpers" & were also billeted in H.B. No families at that time. Donald Obrey & self were with a family at 8, New Street. Nice people, poor but grafters. He drove a lorry & distributed coal & coke for the Gas Board. She worked as a cleaner in a hotel & the daughter- about 16 also worked there as a maid. They also had 2 boys, one 7 one 11. We never had butter, just margarine so I had bread & jam! I kept in touch ever after until the daughter died 3 years ago. They never ever heard from Donald O.- nowt so strange as folk! .We shared the local school, mornings one week, afternoons the next. The reason why we, of the Medway towns, initially went " local"- my friend at the County School went to Sandwich- was because of the number of " Military" targets; Dockyard, Shorts- Airport & Seaplane Works, HMS Pembroke, Royal Marines barracks, Royal Engineers ditto, etc.You can imagine how much we enjoyed the freedom of half day schooling- which caught up with us later!  After the " phoney war", when France had fallen, our school re-evacuated to Bargoed in S. Wales- The County S. to Rhymney- where they stayed for the next couple of years. Because it was too far for my parents to travel, I went to live with an aunt in Shepperton, Middx.coming back home in July 1942.   
Title: Re: Evacuated to Wales 1940
Post by: DaveTheTrain on July 27, 2019, 22:09:45
Wow, that is incredible Dave. To have kept in touch for over seventy years, well done