Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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More Memories of Evacuation

There is little doubt that our memories are enhanced by reminders from time to time such as the 60th anniversary of the evacuation of London's school children.  But September 2nd 1939 will live in my memory for more than the "hike" over the hill of Furness Road across the Harrow Road and down Tubbs Road to Willesden Junction Station.  At the time this seemed an endless trek, especially for the very young members of our families who accompanied us.

At the tender age of 14 years and 29 days I found myself in charge of my three brothers aged 11, 9 and 8 and whilst the journey itself doesn't really figure in my memory of the day, our subsequent arrival at Barry Road School, does.

We were duly herded into the hall and sat upon the floor around the wall and awaited "selection" by the surrogate parents to claim "one boy", "one girl", "two brothers", "two sisters" and so on, but it seemed not many offers were forthcoming for "four boys", brothers or otherwise.

As the afternoon wore on with us sitting there expectantly I suggested to my 11 year old brother that we would have to separate, me taking the youngest and and he taking the other one.  It seemed that no sooner had they moved a short distance away from us they were "claimed" by an affluent looking couple, a Mr. and Mrs Ennals, who turned out to be one of half of a farm implement company Ennals & Cooper.  They even had a Nanny and despite being so far from home my brothers appeared to have landed on their feet.  Our story had a very different ending however.  Night drew in and with just a handful of us still left "homeless", in desperation we were put into someone's car, driven out to (what we found out later to be) Weston Favell whereupon they were to systemically knock on doors to beg people to take us in, even if only for a night.  At the first house they called on ... No 4 Church Road ... a little lady put her head round the door and exclaimed she was "too old for that sort of thing", but the combination of our pitiful look and the persuasive ways of W.V.S. lady must have made her relent and so we were billeted on Mrs. Hughes.

Mrs. Hughes was a wonderful old lady with whom we stayed for about 5 months until she was taken ill and could not cope.  We were subsequently re-housed with a family in the Kingsthorpe? area, where we were bullied by a school aged daughter and ill treated by her mother.  We weren't allowed in the house until after 6 in the evening and shut out straight after breakfast.  With school hours 8 till noon and the constant worry of my now 9 year old brother I asked if I could leave school.  As there was a bit of a lull in the war and my mum and youngest brother had returned from evacuation, we returned home to London.

A while later when the war had "hotted up" again and Mrs Hughes had recovered, my two youngest brothers returned to her where they remained until evacuation was officially declared unnecessary and they maintained contact until her death and the youngest one has visited her daughters in more recent years.

Edward A. Hargreaves