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A Guernsey Evacuee Tells Her Story

August 23, 2013

This is the story of a woman who escaped from Guernsey in the second world war. I met her in January 2013 and the intention was that we would meet again to tell the full story. To date that hasn’t happened but the story she told was so interesting that I repeat it here anonymously.
I met Sue at a party in January 2013. We sat together, her friend and myself and they talked about life in the second world war. I can’t remember how we got on to the subject but I have a feeling that the host said something like, ‘Oh, you should talk to Sue, she has a great story to tell,’ and so she did. I was kicking myself that I hadn’t brought along my voice recorder because both the stories were so good, but I captured Sue’s story as well as I could as soon as I got home and a little of the other woman’s story. Here they are.

My father was English and my mother from Guernsey and we lived on Guernsey. When the Germans came my father told my mother that we were to get out. There were two of us children. If father had stayed on the island, he risked deportation to Germany as a prisoner of war and the children would have gone with him. As it was, his wife left Guernsey first and went to his parents in Lichfield and then my father caught the last boat out from Guernsey. It was a Dutch barge so it was a good job it was good weather for the crossing. There had been a run on the banks and the Guernsey Bank couldn’t pay out all that was asked for so people were given a maximum of £20. In this way my father had enough money to buy a train ticket when he got to England.
As I said, my mother was living with my Gran and Grandfather in Lichfield and the arrangement was that she would leave the back door open in case father came back at night. One morning mother came down and there was a tramp on the settee, except that it wasn’t a tramp, of course, it was my father. At this time I wasn’t living in Lichfield as I had been evacuated to Glasgow. Cleverly my mother had given me a postcard to send home to say that I was all right. She put her address on it and when she received it she knew where I was. Father couldn’t afford to send me back to Lichfield straight away but after a few weeks he did manage to do that.
When we were in Lichfield we didn’t have an air raid shelter. After all that father had gone through he said that he wasn’t going down to any shelter. He felt we were safe in Lichfield and we were, really. There was only one score. There was a military hospital in a nearby stately home and one night a German plane dropped a bomb in a lake. The lake must have gleamed in the moonlight and they thought the glistening was metal.

There was another lady there in January with WW2 experiences and her name has been changed, too. Here is a snippet of Pat’s story.

I lived in Portsmouth and spent most of the war in Exmouth. I spent some of the war in Exeter and that was bombed terribly. The worst thing were the doodlebugs. One night I saw a doodlebug coming straight at us, it was just at window height. I prayed that we wouldn’t get it and we didn’t but a nearby family did and the Salvation Army family down the road.

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