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Yesterday’s post introduced Operation Pied Piper — children’s evacuation — part of the history of the Second World War with which many people outside of Britain and the Commonwealth nations are unfamiliar.

A few members of the Evacuees Reunion Association have recently given interviews in which they describe their experiences. Yesterday’s post related that of James Roffey, founder of the Association.

It is difficult to know what to think of children’s evacuation. I have my own opinion, however, I wasn’t alive at the time so have no idea what it was really like living in England during the war.

However, I did know one Londoner, a widow, whose son was evacuated to a farm in the Home Counties. She went to collect him after several weeks as she couldn’t bear to be parted from him. As far as dying in a bombing raid, one supposes she thought they would take their chances. At night, in the air raid shelter of their nearest Tube station, at least they were together.

Today’s entry is about another Evacuees Reunion Association member Jack Hilton, aged 84, who still lives in his parents’ house in Penge East, South London. Mr Hilton lost his mother during the war, whilst he was miles away in South Yorkshire:

“She said ‘Your dad’s in France with the invasion and he could get killed’,” the 84-year-old told BT.com.

“’Mike [Jack’s younger brother] and I are here with the doodlebugs and we could get killed.’

“’I want one member of the family to survive.’ That is the last thing she ever said to me. I never saw her again.”

Hilton was part of the last tranche of evacuees, leaving in 1944 at the age of 13. He recalls missing his younger brother, who was three years old at the time. Neither knew at the time that their mother was slowly dying.

Young Jack ended up in Barnsley with Mr and Mrs Wines and their four-year old daughter Olwen. He lived with them for three months.

Fortunately, they accepted Jack as a member of the family. He kept in touch with them for many years and went to visit them in 1974.

In the video, he describes the first dinner Mrs Wines prepared for him: pickles, potatoes and corned beef. He says it’s still one of his favourite meals.

He also tells how happy he was at being able to sleep in a bed at the Wines’s house. Back in Penge East, he slept during the war curled up in a sheltered part of the house where the coal was stored.

Hilton went on to pick up his life after the war and today has seven grandchildren.

 

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