EVACUEES: Such warm hospitality

I can only apologise for taking so long to thank you from the bottom of my heart for accommodating us Londoners, and particularly our family.

Thursday, 6th October 2016, 10:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:17 pm

It must have been a great strain on individual families, and also the community in general. It is nearly 70 years since the people of Blyth took in 400 evacuees from London.

I, my sister and my mother were three of those. My father served in the Army and all he ever said about the Second World War was that he was stationed on the Orkney Islands as part of coastal defence and that his wife, aged 30 years, myself, aged one year, and my sister, a few weeks’ old, were evacuated to Blyth.

I wanted to go to the Orkney Islands to see where he had served. This prompted my daughter to source my father’s war record, which showed that he had also spent some time in 1943 on coastal defence in Blyth, and it gave the address in Blyth – Sixth Avenue – where his wife, our mother, stayed.

I communicated with Blyth councillor Alisdair Gibbs-Barton, culminating in an extended holiday from our home in Cornwall to the Orkney Islands and back via Blyth.

Alisdair met my wife and I, and after introducing us to the town clerk and his colleagues, took us on a tour of Blyth, passing the house where we stayed and other places that were of interest, finally arriving at the Blyth Battery. We met Lindsay Durward, the chairman, with some volunteers, who were very interested to hear about my father’s time there.

All the people we met were extremely generous with their time and a pleasure to meet.

The family we were evacuated to had children of their own, but found room for us. It was July/August 1944. I don’t know how long we were there, presumably until the end of the war.

My sister and I vaguely remember the people we stayed with coming to London with relatives/friends from Belgium about 1950 and visiting us in Tottenham, north London.

I don’t know if any of the family who accommodated us will remember those times. They may be able to tell us more.

Fred Shotter