Frederick Croly

Photo:Frederick Croly with his foster mother Mrs Hill in Bridgewater, Devon. Also in the picture is Olaf (named after the King of Norway), a samoyed dog, taken in by the family after his female owner was conscripted for the duration.

Frederick Croly with his foster mother Mrs Hill in Bridgewater, Devon. Also in the picture is Olaf (named after the King of Norway), a samoyed dog, taken in by the family after his female owner was conscripted for the duration.

Frederick Croly

Memories of life as an evacuee in Devon.

In 1939 Fred was 8 years old. He lived in Poplar with his family. He was evacuated to Bridgewater with his older sister who was 13. His mother and his 3 year old brother went to Devon whilst Fred’s father, who was employed at Woolwich Arsenal, stayed in London. After six months, Fred’s mother returned to London. Fred remained at Bridgewater until July 1942.

From London to Bridgewater

When Fred and his sister arrived at Bridgewater it was dark and they were taken to the village hall. They were the last to be chosen as the majority only wanted to host one child. The pair was eventually taken in by a widow. After her 14th birthday Fred’s sister returned to London to work at a sweet shop which Fred says was ‘lucky for him!’ Subsequently he felt very lonely. Although the lady he was billeted with cared for him well, it was a very different lifestyle to that which he was used to. The majority of his friends were evacuees from London. The local children treated him as an outcast. Although classes were short, he attended school daily and enjoyed learning about local nature. 

A farming community

Fred’s mother was unable to visit him frequently as fares were expensive. He has some good memories of evacuation and went fishing, having purchased the equipment and licence for half a crown. His mother sent him money when she was able to. Bridgewater was a farming community and food was plentiful; cheese, meat and milk were not subject to rationing. In contrast Fred had lived in conditions where ‘even the mice gave us the cheese, we were so poor’.

Doodlebugs and evacuation

In 1942 Fred’s mother felt that the bombing had subsided enough for him to return home. In 1940 the family had moved to Kidbrooke into a new house with indoor bathroom facilities and a garden. As Fred returned, the bombing intensified. During raids the family were fortunate enough to obtain a ‘cubicle’ within a communal brick shelter. When a doodlebug fell in the street, 60 houses were destroyed and 4 people were killed. Fortunately Fred’s home remained undamaged. He was re-evacuated to Bridgewater in 1944, wearing his sister’s Junior Women’s Air Corps coat as it was the only one available. Whilst away, Fred stayed with many hosts, some of whom were unpleasant. One was frequently drunk and had American soldiers staying overnight.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 05/04/2012.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.