Fast fading memories of a 1940’s evacuee.
was my eighth birthday, September 1st 1939, Germany
invaded Poland and two days later Britain declared war on Germany,
and the mother wept, Middlesbrough my home town being situated on
the river Tees and a centre of heavy industry and chemical works was
considered to be at risk and evacuation plans were put in hand. I
was evacuated twice.
time to the village of Amotherby near Malton.
and young sister were in a cottage close to the Church, I was on the
outskirts of the village with a kind couple whose name now escapes me (Mr
and Mrs Pinkney?). My only lasting recollection from then is seeing a
Hunt Meeting, watching horsemen in red jackets, beautiful horses and
hounds and being very impressed by the chase crossing fields.
We did not
stay long at Amotherby, Middlesbrough was quiet, the expected air-raids
had not happened and the evacuees started to drift home. When the bombing
raids on Middlesbrough did start I was evacuated again;
to the village of Marton near Pickering.
I was one of several children allocated to (2 or 3 evacuee Mothers) and
placed in a cottage on the main street. It was not long before the
Mothers decided they would rather endure air-raids than take
responsibility for a mob of unruly children----so they packed their cases
and went home. Myself and a friend, Howard Hughes were placed with two
elderly Ladies in an old cottage at the edge of the village. (Likely to be the
It was not long before these kind Ladies decided they preferred their
previous peaceful life rather than the hectic one of looking after someone
else’s young rascals.
It was a
case of third time lucky, we had the very good fortune to be taken in by
Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Tweedie who owned the nearby Riseborough Hall, and
treated as if we were their own children, and it was a very happy time.
Colin's photograph of the Hall c.1943
village schoolroom was just that, one main room, the desks placed in 3
sections, Infants, Juniors, and Seniors. With the arrival of evacuees it
was a case of more pupils than desks and weather permitting some pupils
would use the playground or go on nature walks. One such walk ending
in chaos when the leading boys came upon a wasp’s nest and threw stones
into it. The entire class was stung except for the two leading boys Fred
Belt a farmer’s son and myself. When the crying children arrive back at
school, Mrs Frank (Trevor’s mum) quickly appeared with washing blue bags
and dabbed blue on the wasp bites there were some very strange and funny
morning Fred and I were caned in front of the entire school. Apart from
that little episode it was an exciting and happy time. We walked to
school, about a mile and a half and often crossed the fields and walked
along the riverbank then cutting through Sleightholme farmyard into the
wasn’t a shop in the village that I can recall though we could get soft
drinks at the rear door of the Spotted Cow ( I believe the Landlord was Mr
Brown, his son (Geoffrey?) often played with us).
corner of Back Lane you could enter a field and cross diagonally (usually
chased by a flock of hissing geese) to an iron small footbridge which led
into the village of Normanby which did have a shop that sold sweets. Mrs.
Tweedie also called at the Sun Inn or sent us for cigarettes and the
occasional small bottle of spirits normally Gin on the “slate” (both
commodities being in extremely short supply).
bought my first bicycle by the Tweedie’s from the garage at Wrelton it was
second hand even so it was my pride and joy. We often cycled past Gallows
Head to see the train pass under the bridge. I think only two trains a
day. On hot days we would swim at Sinnington Mill.
sold me my first pets, two rabbits, which alas a cat or fox killed. A
Home Guard post was set up at the Hall and I recall a national alert and
taking tea and sandwiches out to the men who had chosen Orchard Hill for
their observation post.
One night a
bomber taking off from a nearby airfield developed an engine problem and
was forced to jettison a string of bombs (unprimed) over Riseborough,
straddling the Hall. I have a photograph of the Bomb Disposal / Recovery
Team together with Mr. Tweedie and myself proudly displaying the first
of the Bombs jettisoned by the Canadian's from Wombleton Airfield on
farm was busy at haymaking and harvesting time Italian prisoners-of-war
came from the nearby camp to work on these tasks. The prisoners were
happy and friendly, I think much preferring their situation than to being
involved in fighting a war.
the Website (http://www.normanby.info) I found the article on Riseborough
Hall to be of extreme interest and it certainly brought back memories, the
removal of the main entrance gates, my sighting of the haunting lady. The
log fires, tree trunks standing vertically up the chimney and being taught
by Mr. Tweedie how to ride the hunters Wendy and Pepper. I was delighted
to read that new owners are to restore the Hall to its former glory.
In 2004 I
met Harold and Joan Kennington, the conversation turned to a television
programme from the previous evening on evacuation, when Harold commented
that he had been evacuated to Hall Farm, Riseborough. I quickly
interrupted saying that he had stayed with Mr and Mrs Thompson and their
sons Russell and Fred and also evacuated with him was a boy named Geoffrey
Pattison. To say that Harold was flabbergasted is putting it rather
Up to that
point it had only been Harold and Colin but he quickly realized who I must
be and remembered my surname although I could not recall his surname. We
had spent many long summer days playing together either at the Hall or
Marquis April 2007