John Ray

Evacuation

John Ray talks about the day he was evacuated to Devon.

Recollections of evacuation and country life in Devon.

Evacuation

Born in October 1932, John was almost seven years old when war broke out in September 1939. During the war John was evacuated three times. At the outbreak of war John was living with his family in Greenwich but not before long his father arranged for himself, his mother and his younger brother to be evacuated to Hextable outside Dartford. Although the family returned to Greenwich after a few months as little had happened, John was once again evacuated in June 1940 when the Battle of Britain began. This time evacuation took him to North Devon along with his school as part of the official evacuation scheme. After a long day of travelling the children reached Torrington, Devon, and were gathered in a local school:

'It was like a cattle market and fortunately for me I had masses of blond curly hair and the local Special Constable came up to me, he said, ‘I’ve got just the place for you’.

‘It was like a cattle market and fortunately for me I had masses of blond curly hair and the local Special Constable came up to me, he said, ‘I’ve got just the place for you’, and took me and...one other little boy left over when all the rest were chosen, Bertie Slater. So the big policeman put us in the back of his little Austin...and took us to...the family that ran the big farm and took us two boys into the farm house where they sat us on this bloomin’ great big table. No electricity so we had oil lamps and moonlight and fed us clotted cream on scones and glasses of milk and I hated both of them... And eventually Bertie and I went to bed and that was our first day’.   

'An absolutely wonderful life'

John was well looked after and enjoyed his stay in Devon but when the bombing eased in London he returned home. John stayed in London from September 1943 until the early part of the summer of 1944 when he was sent back to Devon to stay with his former foster family as a result of the recommencement of bombing. This time his brother accompanied him. Being evacuated to Devon, John believes was a privilege as living in the countryside with a supportive foster family made for ‘an absolutely wonderful life. Super life’. At the end of the war John returned home.

Downloads

Interview with John Ray
Interview with John Ray (284k)
To read the full transcript of John's interview please press the above link.

Evacuation
Evacuation (284k)
Transcript of audio clip with John Ray.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 29/02/2012.

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