Evacuation To St Merryn - a Memory of St Merryn.
My sister and I were evacuated to St Merryn in 1940. I was aged 6 and my sister aged 11. We lived in Bermondsey, London. I shall always remember our first night in St Merryn. We were sitting in the School Hall,and were the last to be allocated. This was because my sister had been told by my mother, that we were not to be parted. Eventually a woman with two children approached us, and said we were to go with her. We didn't go very far, and were escorted up some steps and into a very dark house. The lady then lit a paraffin lamp, and I can remember asking her if it was a farm, and they all laughed. We were billeted at 2 Towan Cottages, or Villas, with a Mr and Mrs Ellery, who had two children slightly older than us, a boy whose name was Alan, and a girl called Peggy.
The house was something of a surprise to us as there was no electricity, no gas, and no running water. The latter had to be drawn up from the pump at the front of the cottages. Mrs Ellery used to cook the loveliest pasties, and Mr Ellery used to work nights at one of the airfields, I thought he said Treginigar, but it could have been St Merryn. I cannot recall the exact dates we were with the Ellerys, but it must have been winter,as there were always icicles on the pump. I do remember that Mr Ellery was the Churchwarden,and we used to go to the church every day, and three times on Sundays. My sister June and Peggy used to change the flowers, whilst Alan and me used to place all the hymn books in the slots, and straighten up the hassocks, dusting the pews at the same time. I can remember vividly the shooting down of a German aircraft, a Dornier I think, one evening just at dusk. We were playing out the front of the house when this aircraft came over very low, we could see the occupants looking around. Then we could see the tracer bullets striking it, going in through the nose, then it beagn to smoke, and crashed into the hillside some distance away ,it could be seen burniing on the ground. We were all running around and cheering. On another occasion, we were in bed, and could hear this aircraft droning around and around, we looked out of the window, and saw that it was on fire. We watched it getting lower and lower, until it crashed, not too far away. We could hear explosions and popping of ammunition all night. The next day we heard that it had crashed into a field not too far away. We walked the short distance,and could see it in the field, still smoking. On the way down it had knocked the roof off a cottage, next to the field. We could still hear the ammunition exploding,a nd the police and army were there, keeping everyone back. It was unfortunately one of 'Ours', a Lockheed Hudson, belonging to Coastal Command, and we heard that the crew had perished in the crash. Very sad.
We were still billeted with Mr and Mrs Ellery on May Day. We walked into Padstow, and were introduced to the Hobby Horse, which frightened the life out of us, as Mrs Elllery said that if you go under the skirt, you will never come out. I think they had a good laugh at us!
Shortly after that we were moved to another family. This time it was in a lovely large house called Tamerisk, adjacent to Treyarnon Bay. This was being rented by a Della Maizes, and her father 'Pop', who in fact lived in Cheam, Surrey. Her husband Ben owned a large store that sold all kinds of tools and things, a hardware store, as they used to be called. He had a car,a nd used to visit at weekends. He used to drive all the way with his tin helmet on, we thought that was very funny. Tamerisk was a large house, divided into two, we had one half, and Canadian airmen had the other half. Sometimes Auntie Della used to have them in for a drink and a bit of a party, they were great men, very friendly, and always had some memento or badge to give me. They all carried sidearms, and used to show me how to hold and point them, to the great displeasure of Aunt Della. Not loaded of course. I'm not too sure if Uncle Ben was aware of these gatherings, but I'm sure they were only to help the war effort. Aunt Della was a really smart young lady, and used to wear slacks, wedge heels and a turban, the smart set of the day.
My sister and I had the whole of Treyarnon Bay and Constantine Bay virtually to ourselves most days. Della had an Irish Red Setter called Roddy, and we used to take him to the beach and he loved the water. I spent most of my time gazing into the rock pool on Treyarnon, wondering at the sea life,a nd quartz on the side.
Unfortunately a War Office Directive brought to an end this idyllic existence. It was deemed that all women and girls either had to join the Land Army, or work in the munitions factories - unless they were pregnant. Yes, Aunt Della went and got pregnant. They went back home to Cheam (Morden), and my sister and I returned home to Bermondsey - just in time for the Blitz to start. My father was in the army, and I think that my mother, who also had a baby, aged one, was happy to have us all back in the same shelter. At least if we went, we would all go together. As it happened, we didn't, and we all lived happily ever after.
But I have never quite got Cornwall out of my heart. My sister used to holiday at Treyarnon, and loved it, but I have never been back, although I would dearly love to. I have tried to trace the Ellerys but to no avail. It seems that there were no records kept of which evacuees went where, and for how long. I can remember going to the school in St Merryn, but they haven't any records either. Stil,l my memories are priceless, and are as fresh today as they were in 1940.
A memory shared by on Jan 2nd, 2009. Send Bill Killick a message
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