• harveyvickie

The Evacuees

Today marks the start of WW2, I thought it may be appropriate to remember all those hundreds of thousands of child evacuees. The expected bombing didn’t happen straight away of course so some of the families and children who were homesick went back.

But then the bombs began to drop! This is a poem I wrote about those evacuees seen through the eyes of children.


Clutching their suitcases, they arrived in the town, escaping from cities with bombs raining down, Little brown labels on coats and lapels, sent here from danger of bullets and shells.


Nothing to carry, just gas mask and case I could see the uncertainty etched on their face hey came from Birmingham and Clacton on sea young girls and boys called evacuees.


We lived in a street just up from the station we stood on the platform filled with anticipation through the steam of the train, two faces appeared, Mom and Dad took their hands as the platform cleared.


They'd travelled from Smethwick, he'd a tear in his eye, at just seven years old he had just said goodbye, to a Mother who loved him, held him so tight, Both he and his sister were so full of fright.


We took them both home and settled them down, Billy stayed with me, but Sally had her own little room in the attic, where the moon at night, shone through the little wooden skylight.


Billy told me his Dad had been fighting in France when a shell hit his trench, he hadn't a chance, By bedtime I knew everything about his Mum, and a place they called home, a place called Brum.


Next morning at breakfast, Sally was quiet, when Mum asked her why, she wanted to know why it wasn't far from her home, yet she had to leave there, she was just nine years old and it wasn't fair.


'Nothing is fair' Mum quietly replied, 'War is not fair, nor is death' she sighed, 'You'll soon settle in when you get to school, I know you don't like it, but life can be cruel'


I liked my friend Billy, we got on so well, and Sally made friends with our neighbour Nell, Over the next few weeks we played and had fun, till the summer was over and school had begun.


I should mention my dad, he fought world war one caught a bullet in the leg, from a snipers gun, when war broke out, he found rejection hard, but was first in line to join the home guard.


Some people called him conchy, even though he'd a limp, but to people who knew him, he wasn't a wimp, He was an ex soldier, who'd fought for the cause a man whose young life had spanned two world wars.


Just a few weeks later, the bombs began to fall, Birmingham was lit up, like a huge fireball, Dad was out most nights on our cold quiet streets and poor Mum just struggled to make ends meet.


Billy and Sally got to love us more, as they realised they were safer, away from the war, But one day the war came to our old town a lone bomber going home, was being slowed down.

He passed overhead and dropped his load, we heard the explosions at the end of New road, Bill and I stared out of the attic window, though all we could see was a large orange glow.


It was all over in seconds, that's when we heard, the bells of the brigade as the Heinkel disappeared' up into the clouds towards the coast it went, travelling much faster now it's load was spent.


Next day was Monday, Billy and I went out, to where the bombs fell, to have a scout, We'd just got time before the school bell, to look for schrapnel where the bombs had fell.


Night after night, Bill and I heard them come, Hundreds of bombers on their way to Brum, I asked Dad if we could swap, to the attic room, we could watch the planes returning out of the gloom.


Sally was very keen to swap with us, though, getting the bed up was quite a fuss We sat there with silhouettes from the Hotspur it showed every aircraft, it caused quite a stir.


We would watch the firemen come back each day from fighting the fires, twenty miles away, they were tired and weary from working all night, some asleep on their ladders, such was their plight,


They'd snatch a few hours, calmly carry on, and pray for high winds and storms to come, that would mean that the enemy couldn't fly, they would get a nights sleep, so hard to come by.


Most every night Billy cried himself to sleep into his feathered pillow, he'd sob and weep, He didn't know if the bombers returning from Brum, had hit their house and killed his Mum.


But he rose next morning cheerful as could be, had his usual cold toast, and hot cup of tea, I would never let on that I'd heard him cry, but it was plain to see from the red in his eye.


Next day it happened, a wondrous thing, we were in the attic, heard the doorbell ring, there on the doorstep stood Billy's Mum, cadged a lift on a fire engine coming from Brum.


Billy's young face was a picture to see, Sally just hugged her, screaming with glee, It didn't take much, in those war torn days to cheer up children, while the world was ablaze.

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