15 February 2003

Ullswater: Barton School. The Evacuee’s

Early in the 1940s our class numbers started to swell withWW2 evacuee’s from the industrial cities, which the German’s used to bomb. Children were parted from their parents and sent to safe areas, which our area was and billeted in the homes of the local population. Looking back now it must have been very traumatic for those children, not only were they parted from their parents, they were put in strangers homes and coming from the cities they found the country life style was lived much differently to what they were used to.

Most evacuees were with us until the tide turned in our favour against Germany. I cannot remember any really young ones of school age. Most of them seemed to be older than I. A few parents able to afford the move moved with their children, but I can only recall a few. Mostly the mother only, Father usually had been conscripted for the war.

One family were Belgian, refugee’s from their occupied country, I remember the boy of my age well, not for his accented English but for the day he brought to school a part eaten tubular package of sweets… (Lollies in NZ) and made the mistake of pulling them out in the playground. A big mistake, he was mobbed by children big and small. During WW2 sweets were rationed like most things and when sweets were occasionally available in the shops they were quickly bought out so most children especially the country ones saw sweets rarely. But they did know what they were when they saw them! In the excitement one of the older children grabbed the package and threw it, all we know in the melee the package of sweets landed in or over the hedge between the playground and the headmistress’s house.

Children were in the hedge on their hands and knees, heads in the hedge, in the headmistress’s side, there were kids everywhere; the girls came around from their play area, one big mob of exited kids. I couldn’t see anything for all the bodies so I got down on my hands and knees and stuck my head through a forest the legs and suddenly spied a flash of something silver in the dead leaves and then it was gone. I grabbed at the dead leaves, felt something hard in my hand I pulled my hand back and wriggled out from that forest of legs and stood up. “I’ve found it, I cried” all the hunting kids came to a stop and silence reigned. Everyone came silently crowding round and with me in the middle with his or her eyes on my clenched hand. The Belgian boy stood on the outer edge of the circle and I looked at him, I walked towards him and the crowd parted and I handed the package of sweets to him. He opened the end of the package, gave me one and stuffed the rest in his pocket. I put mine in my pocket too.

The melee was over as quickly as it started and the once exited kids just drifted quietly away.

Next WW2 and its effect on our School

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