By Francisco Jiménez

During the evacuation, some children talk about the bad experiences or bad memories of this time. We have divided the memories into these parts:

Psychological damage

  • One of the contributors tells about the experience of feeling axious all the time because of the responsibility of looking after her little brother during the evacuation and about how she would look after her siblings if her pregnant mother died: “My brother was seven and I was ten (…), I felt cheated, and also embarrassed by his blatant display of homesickness. I too was homesick but determined no one should know about it.”
  • Besides, the same child suffered sexually abuse. She was abused at the church youth club and she was sworn to secrecy by the bully. She was also bullied by the family’s daughter.
  • Other contributors suffered other kinds of psychological damage. Today, one of the evacuees suffer agoraphobia, which came from her childhood in the war.


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Child labour:

  • Some of them had to work during the housework, clean the host family's older brother’s shoes and looking after the younger kid.
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  • The boys sometimes went down the mines.
  • In addition, other evacuees tell they were given baskets and told to fill them with as much soft fruit as possible. There was no pay but they could eat their fill of the plump to bursting gooseberries.

Homesickness and lack of affection:

  • Some of the children were deeply homesick to the point of getting sick.
  • One of the contributors, Joan, speaks about how she was fed and looked after but she was not wanted. One of the experiences that she remembers is when her parents sent her nice clothes but the lady did not wanted her to wear them.
  • The evacuees hated the isolation, there was an atmosphere of tension and fear. When war was declared, nobody knew what would happen.

Accidents and incidents

  • Other consequences were the accidents. A girl was attacked by a chow and a little boy almost drowned. Her sister fell into a skylight and cut her leg seriously. Later her sister managed to save a little boy from drowning.

Cruel treatment:

  • The families’ treatment sometimes was not pretty good. One of the children tells that they didn't feed them much and they were always locked in their bedroom. Furthermore, they used to lock them in the garden shed and they had to bathe in four inches of cold water.


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  • They were so hungry and sick that they often ate rubbish out of the pig swill bins. The same person tells that she and her sister tried to drink from the tap which was dripping, but the house’s lady saw them and locked them in the coal cupboard.

Bad Conditions

  • Some of the evacuees were moved to places which were not prepared to received them at all. In some cases they have to sleep on the floor or stay in places with lack of hygiene.

Testimonies


  • Dymphna Porter: She can remember vividly how the servants (the young house-maid, chamber-maids and parlour-mades) in Box House burst into tears when they listened to the announcement that Britain was at war with Germany on the radio.
  • Renee Silverman: Her brother, Harold, was unhappy due to the fact that he missed his mummy and also because when he arrived, some children used to pull his leg.
  • Marjorie Walker: "They kept us all together because I was always crying", "I posted letters to my mum without stamps on and covered in tears, asking her to come and take me home"