Wartime evacuation

My Grandfathers experience - an Eastbourne project

By David Taft and Katy Taft

Photo:My Grandfather Ken Taft 1949Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus

My Grandfather Ken Taft 1949Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus

Photo:My Grandfathers account

My Grandfathers account

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus

My Grandfathers story

Below is a written account of my Grandfather's evacuee experience. He was born in Margate and lived the whole of his life on the Isle of Thanet. He wrote this for me to include in a project I did when I was attending West Rise Junior School, Langney, Eastbourne in 1989. I was in class JH and was nine. The words are my Grandfathers own.
(Katy Taft 2008)

Who was evacuated?

All schools were evacuated in Margate, June 1940. The school travelled together via bus to Margate Station then by train to Staffordshire. As we were assembling at the Railway station at Margate, troops from Dunkirk were being brought in from Margate pier.

Were did he go?

Some of the men had very little clothing on and looked very tired. Our school (Drapers Mill) were sent to a small village school called Elford and the local villagers collected us and taken to their homes.They did not select the boys and girls as names were put on a list and we were all pre-selected by a committee. I stayed with a farm labourer and his wife. They did not really have enough room in their house, and after about 14 days I was taken to a farmers house along with another boy from my class.

How long did he stay?

This farm was about 4 miles from the school and we had to walk to school as the farmer could not afford to use his petrol which was rationed and he needed the petrol for his farm tractors etc. My friend and I were not very happy at all staying at the farm and we both wrote to our parents saying we desperately wanted to come home. We had been there approximately six weeks.

Going home

We were allowed to go home. Some one took us as far as London where my Mother met us. There was a bad air raid going on at the time in London. But my friend and I were not terribly frightened as we so much wanted to get home.

Identity Cards

On arriving at Margate railway station we had to show a policeman our identity Cards as we were entering a restricted zone. We had to carry our identity cards ourselves and often had to show them to soldiers air raid wardens, police etc. We had to also carry our gas masks with us at all times.

How Many Children Lived in Margate?

When we got back to Margate my friend and I soon found out how many other boys and girls had also managed to get back, there were in total about 14 boys, so in fact I knew all the boys in Margate in July 1940. I don't remember seeing any girls but there might have been a few. There were no schools open in Margate so we did not attend or have any lessons for several months. Later on one school opened for the whole of Margate and you could go if you wished.

When Could He Go To School

I wanted to go, and used to go to school for 1 1/2 hours per day. The 1st week I went at 9 till 10.30, next week 10.30 till 12, 3rd week 1pm till 2.30, 4th week 2.30 till 4p.m. Then back to week 1. We had 2 teachers in Margate. Much of our time was spent in the air raid shelter and some times I didn't get home till quite late.

Ken Taft

This page was added by David Taft on 18/11/2008.

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