A new book providing a fascinating insight into the experiences of forty wartime evacuees will be launched at Lowestoft Railway Station on Monday (14th December).
Eighty years ago, some 3000 children and their teachers from Lowestoft and the surrounding area were evacuated away from the threat of bombing and invasion, leaving on special trains with no idea of their destination or what would happen on their arrival.
‘A Long Way From Home’, written by former Evacuee Clive Capps and Author Sandra Delf contains the personal accounts of forty children, now aged in their 80s and 90s, providing an insight into what it was like to be a child evacuee enduring the trauma and, in some cases, the excitement of being displaced from home for an unknown period of time.
World War 2 resulted in the largest movement in UK history of around 3.5 million children to places of safety. With Lowestoft being on the East Coast and just a 30minute flight from the German enemy, the town was designated as an ‘at risk’ area for bombing and even invasion. On June 2, 1940 around 3,000 children were evacuated by train from Lowestoft Station to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Small towns and villages subsequently became host to many of these children and the book features moving, personal accounts of their experiences, for whom some finding a place of safety became an exciting adventure and, for others, a very traumatic time.
Eighty years on, many of the friendships made during such difficult times are cherished and, through the work of the Lowestoft Evacuees Association, founded by Lowestoft resident Chris Brooks over thirty years ago, the memories and the connections made with Derbyshire communities, particularly in the towns of Creswell and Glossop remain strong.
Co- Author Clive Capps was just 5 years old when he was evacuated along with his older brother, Carl. Clive found safety with a family that lived in an old farmhouse and despite being separated from his sibling, soon settled in with the Boffey family, making a new pal with their 7year old son. Clive said; “We compiled the stories featured in ‘A Long Way from Home’ as we wanted to capture these important memories and preserve them for future generations. The mass evacuation of children is such an important part of the history of this country and the stories featured recognise many unsung heroes of World War 2.”
In his foreword for the book, Chair of the British Evacuees Association, James Roffey MBE said; “It is a great idea to mark the Eightieth Anniversary year of the Lowestoft evacuees leaving by collecting their experiences together to create this fascinating and informative book. “These former evacuees experienced the Second World War as children. “The cruel nature of the War and all that it brought with it, meant that they were no longer safe in their own homes, confirmed later by severe damage from bombing of homes and schools in Lowestoft. They were taken to ‘places of safety’ and were not re-united with their families, in some cases until after the War had finished in 1945. “It is important that 80 years later this group of nearly 40 evacuees, have given these valuable and varying accounts of their wartime experiences which form a permanent record for future generations. This unique collection of stories echo what we already know to be, the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad memories of a long time ago.”
For some the evacuation brought huge challenges, new ways of life and highlighted the difficulties of integrating so many children into small communities. Taking the authors over two years to research, these important memories have now been recorded for posterity, just a look at the titles featured within the book give a flavour of the emotions and experiences being told, some for the very first time including; “They Were Afraid of us Messing up the House”, “We Slept On Straw”, “No Beach or Sea in Glossop”, “It Seemed the Best Dressed Children were Picked First”, “It Was Like a Cattle Market”, “You Funny – Look Different”.