Weston Green School – WW2 Evacuees

Weston Green School visited us at the Home of Compassion in Thames Ditton again with year 5 pupils aged 9-10 years old.  They have been reading Michael Morpugo’s book “Friend or Foe” in class and decided it would be a good opportunity to ask questions from those who were actually children who were evacuated during the war.

To start with one of the pupils stood up and read us a summary of what the book was about and why they were visiting us today.  Then six children read out an extract from the book, each taking a character’s role, with a narrator filling in the gaps in between the dialogue.  Throughout the performance you could see residents adjusting their hearing aids and concentrating really hard on what the children were reading for us.  To say we were enthralled was putting it mildly.

Then came the audience participation; the children asked residents a selection of questions relating to their time during the war.  Many stories which made the children gasp were relayed in a matter of fact way by our residents; our favourites are listed below.

Evelyn was evacuated towards the end of the war, so only spent a long summer holiday away from her parents in the seaside holiday town of Blackpool.  She couldn’t believe the difference in life, as Blackpool did not seem to be affected by the war and no bombs fell; it was a pleasant respite from the incessant bombing she had become accustomed to.

John was sent to boarding school, a long way away from his family, about 30 miles outside Coventry.  He recalled how strict the masters at the school were and particularly was struck by the memory of the night Coventry was bombed heavily.  He and his classmates had hunkered down in the basement of the boarding school after the air raid siren went off yet again.  They felt the ground shake and were very surprised to hear that the bombing was actually taking place over 30 miles away in Coventry and not, as they expected, in the school grounds.  His most poignant moment was the sunny day in which they were in the sports field and they spotted two servicemen in tattered uniforms heading towards them; it turned out these men were fathers of a couple of pupils who had been returned to the UK following the Dunkirk rescue mission and they had come to see their children straight from arriving back.  The normally pristine uniforms were torn, muddy and blood splattered which brought a real sense of the realities of war that the boys had not been exposed to before.

Another resident also remembered the Coventry bombing and was placed about 20 miles away and watched the sky burn bright red all night as the city burned to the ground. 

Geoff was not evacuated but was four years old when the war started so thought that going to sit in the bomb shelter in his garden was a perfectly normal activity, as he could not recall doing anything differently all his childhood.    

Another resident had her daughter with her, and we were treated to the tale that her mother was evacuated to Penzance.  At the end of a very long and lonely train journey hundreds of children were lined up in front of the local residents and picked out one by one.  Her Mum was the last child to be selected and felt very sad; however the up side of this tale was she was taken in by the local Minister who always had lots of food and provided a loving environment.  In fact they continued to holiday in Penzance, even when they became adults and she kept in close contact with the Minister’s daughter all through her life.

Pam was evacuated from the Isle of Wight as it was considered likely to be invaded before the mainland.  She was amazed at the sight one night when the Solent was full of ships of all shapes and sizes and in the morning after every single one had gone.  Shortly afterwards she was evacuated. 

Recovering from the shock of the memories from our residents the children then split up and showed individual residents their work on their Evacuees during WW2 project.  The busy hum of enthralled conversation between resident and pupil was something the teachers and staff will remember for a long time.

Home of Compassion is dedicated to providing the highest level of residential, nursing and dementia care for up to 71 elderly residents. The luxurious care home is set in delightful surroundings in the heart of Thames Ditton, with beautiful views over the river.

If you would like to find out more about life at Home of Compassion, our events and activities, or would like to arrange a visit to our home, please contact us on 0808 223 5406 or email manager.hoc@caringhomes.org.

Home of Compassion

Home Manager

Avril Jones

Address

58 High Street,
Thames Ditton,
Surrey,
KT7 0TT

Contact
0808 223 5406
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