'So Happy To Be Home'

It was Spring 1945 and bombs rained down continuously. Most of our schooling was in the shelters. The day of our evacuation arrived, and we spent most of the morning in the shelter as there was a raid on. We carried gas masks, a small suitcase and had a label pinned to our coats with our name on. Our parents did not know where or when they would see us again. It was a very dramatic day for us. We were all so tearful.
After a long train journey we arrived in Manchester and went on to a small mining town called Tyldesley, not far from Bolton in Lancashire. Unusually, my sister and I were separated.
I was billeted with a couple called Mr & Mrs Guest. Mr Guest was a local coal miner. On Saturday nights we would go to the local working mens club for a drink and a sing song. I remember one of the songs at that time was "When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbing along". They were very kind to me.
I was then transferred to another mining family called Stott. They lived in Elm Street in Tydlesley. Mr Stott would have a bath in the kitchen when he came home from the mine every day. You had to go outside to the privy. Very early in the morning I could hear the clatter of the miners or mill workers going off to work for the day. My sister was billeted with a lovely family, Mr and Mrs King. Mr King worked at the Mill.
We attended the local school but this was fairly irregular as we only had one or two of our own teachers with us. For the first time in my life I had to undergo the ritual of having my head checked with a nit comb over a sheet of paper !
The school was taken on a trip down one of the deepest coal mines in the country. I remember crawling along a very low tunnel to the coal face. The miners worked in such cramped conditions. Remembering this, our neighbours at home were conscientious objectors, so the two oldest sons were sent down the mines as Bevin Boys. It must have been dreadful for them.
I suffered great embarrassment when I was sent to the fish and chip shop on the corner of Elm Street in the evening. I would have to run the gauntlet of the young miners who would gather there!
I was deeply unhappy away from home and became ill with homesickness. I was sent home late in 1945 just before the end of the war in Europe.
I was so glad to be home.

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