Here's a story my dad wrote about being evacuated. My dad is 83 years old.
This story is being published as I type.
So here's PART 1.
From the Rathbone to the finale time of Ron’s (my brother) and mine of moving around the country to a place that became the best years of my childhood. The place?
Tancwarel Farm in a village called Bronant, fifteen miles outside Aberystwyth. About a dozen of us arrived at Bronant School where there where men and women waiting for us.
We were handed a bowl of “Cowl” (leek soup). Ron and I nearly got split up but for a woman who changed her mind, said she would take the two of us. I don’t know what time it was we left but it was dark with a clear sky. I had never seen so many stars before. We seemed to have been walking for ages when a shape of a building could be seen against the skyline and I could hear dogs barking in the distance. A short time later, two dogs came running up wagging their tails and jumping up at the woman. At last we arrived Tancwarel Farm. A big wooden front door. Inside, a slate floor and a room lit with a paraffin lamp on a table and sitting on the couch was a man who looked old wearing a greasy trilby hat. A lovely fire burning on the floor stoked with peat and (you could see the stars if you looked up the chimney) a kettle hanging from a chain (“Crane”) over the fire.
The woman’s name was Elizabeth Morgan; the man on the couch was Moses Morgan (Uncle & Niece). We called them Aunty & Uncle. The dog’s names, Mott and Judy.
Aunty put a pan of milk on the fire, cut a couple of rounds of bread and two lumps of cheese. She poured the milk into cups. The last time we had eaten anything was (not including the bowl of soup) when we changed trains at Shrewsbury and had a sandwich and a cup of tea.
When we finished our supper Aunty told us to say “Goodnight” to Uncle Moses, which we did. He replied “Nos Da” (Goodnight in Welsh).
The house had three bedrooms and three rooms downstairs, the room where we had our supper, another room with a milk churn (to make butter and cheese) and also a machine to skim the fresh milk. We kept the cream and gave the skimmed milk to the calves. These things all had to be turned by hand. We made our way to the staircase, which was situated in the hallway, and we started to climb the stairs. “No, not up there” Aunty said and pointed to a room in the hallway. We entered and there was a double bed and a chair. On the chair sat a candle on a saucer and also two or three cattle cake under the window. We put on our pyjamas and climbed into bed. Aunty told us to get out of bed. We did. She then told us to kneel down and put our hands together. “Now say the Lords Prayer and ask God to keep your mother and father safe”. She then left the room and returned a few moments later wearing a nightdress. The candle still burning, she blew the candle out and then told me to “move over”. Next thing she is in the middle of me and Ron and it stayed that way until we returned home. (To this day I still say my prayers).
Next morning we where out of bed very early. Aunty and Uncle where already up. I asked Aunty where the toilet was? She told us to follow her. We went outside, past the barn, past the pig sty and down a bit of a slope to the hen shed. Aunty pointed to the ground. The shed was empty and the hens where running around in the field. I asked Aunty for some paper to wipe our bum. She walked away and came back a couple of seconds later. She handed us a bunch of leaves then left.
We did our business and returned to the farmhouse. I asked Aunty where the tap and sink was so we could get a wash? She put a tin bowl on the table and took the kettle off the chain hanging over the fire. It was too hot so she picked up a bucket of water and poured some in the bowl till it was cool enough to wash in.
When we had finished, the table was cleared. A plate each of two eggs, bacon, mushrooms and homemade bread, plus a cup of chocolate made with milk is what we had for our breakfast every morning. Sometimes the eggs where boiled. Our diet was chicken, rabbit, bacon, cheese and homemade bread. All vegetables where home grown. Even though we had three cows and thirty sheep we never had red meat or fish at anytime.
Aunty told us that Uncle could not speak English. She then said “Off to school now”.
So to our first day at school, the same road we had taken the previous night, in daylight the road looked different, hedges on both sides, fields full of sheep, cattle and rabbits. After walking about ten minutes we approached a farm which I didn’t see the night before on the way to Tancwarel. Two brothers Moses and John Davies lived there. We carried on for another twenty minutes and finally came to the school. I knew some of the boys by sight from the Rathbone. Two lads that I did know, George and Kenneth Morton, they where around my age, nine or ten. They also had a younger brother Allan who was around Ron’s age five or six. I don’t know how many evacuees there where but the classroom was divided in half. The Welsh children in one half and English in the other.
How any teaching was ever done I wouldn’t know, Welsh spoken in one half and English in the other. I do remember reading to the class, “Treasure Island” I think it was.
There was a Wood Pigeon nest in one of the trees in the playground. Ron and I went to school very early one morning. I climbed the tree and took a fledgling from the nest and stuffed it in my shirt until the end of school time and took it to the farm. It was still there three years later when I left Tancwarel in Nineteen forty-four.
I know Ron wasn’t at school for long after a visit from the school nurse. The nurse was there to give the evacuees a medical check over. She told the headmaster Ron had Scabies. The headmaster handed me a note, written in Welsh and I was told to give it to Aunty. Aunty told me what the note was all about. Ron was not to attend school. Every night Ron and I had a sulphur bath in front of the fire.
I wasn’t long after Ron attending that school. One day the evacuees where clearing the grass area in the school ground and for some reason, Kenneth Morton and I where knocking seven bells out of each other. I think it was because both of us wanted the wheelbarrow and that may have well been the reason I was transferred to another school. I will never know, maybe it was over me raiding the Wood Pigeon nest?