Eileen Emery

Childhood memories of life on the Home Front and evacuation to Loughborough.

Evacuation

In September 1939 Eileen and her brother were evacuated from Hoxton to Luton. The children were each given sixpence by their father. Upon arrival Eileen and her brother were separated. She was taken to a school hall where local residents were seated at tables placing items into bags for new arrivals. Eileen felt very shy. A lady handed her a bag which contained tinned produce, tea and sugar. Seeing that she was alone, the lady agreed to take Eileen into her home. 

A photograph of recognition

Eileen was invited to play with the children who lived across the street. Whilst playing in the children’s home she noticed a photograph of her aunt's wedding, in which she was a bridesmaid. Although the children insisted that she was mistaken she was able to identify other people in the photo. It transpired that the children’s mother was the cousin of Eileen’s aunt’s new husband. Eileen’s brother visited occasionally. Her host made numerous sandwiches and cakes. As they had been taught that it was bad manners to take things unless they had been offered, they only ate one sandwich each and would not accept any to take home.

Returning home

During this period London experienced little bombing. Eileen returned in November when her father could no longer afford the contributions for her board.  As conditions worsened, the family slept in the cellar of Truman’s Brewery in Brick Lane, where her father worked. Her mother became increasingly frustrated with the disruption. When they emerged from the cellar they frequently found that they had to take alternative routes home due to the destruction. After one particularly bad raid Eileen’s mother decided that they should be evacuated.

Evacuation to Loughborough

Eileen, her siblings and their mother were sent to Loughborough. They were taken to a large house where they were greeted by a housekeeper unwilling to take them on. However, the billeting officer insisted on the family being taken in. The stay was temporary. That night Coventry was bombed and the housekeeper would not allow them to leave the attic where they had been assigned beds. The next day Eileen’s mother demanded that the billeting officer relocate them. They were moved into accommodation with a lady who was very unpleasant. Eileen believes that she only accepted them for the allowance which was offered. Eventually the church and billeting officer found them a private cottage to stay in, where they remained for a year.

Many children were evacuated to Loughborough from Liverpool. Schools were overcrowded and teachers very strict. Eileen feels that children today have rarely experienced hardship whereas her generation accepted it. Children were disciplined more strictly and parents did not have the security of a welfare system to rely upon.

Back home

When Eileen returned to London the family’s home had been destroyed. The family moved to Petts Wood and rented a house from the council. Their new home had an indoor bathroom and a shelter under the table. 

Downloads

Letter written by Eileen Emery
Letter written by Eileen Emery (31k)
To read more about Eileen's wartime experiences please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 30/04/2012.

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