Lydia Spurrier

Photo:A recent photo of Lydia Spurrier.

A recent photo of Lydia Spurrier.

Lydia Spurrier

Photo:The Hall that Lydia was evacuated to with her school.

The Hall that Lydia was evacuated to with her school.

Lydia Spurrier

Photo:Postcard sent by Lydia to her mother during her evacuation.

Postcard sent by Lydia to her mother during her evacuation.

Lydia Spurrier

Recollections of evacuation to Shropshire.

Evacuation to Shropshire

At the outbreak of war Lydia was eleven years old. On 1st September 1939, her mother was informed that Lydia would be evacuated with her school. Before the war had been announced she and her classmates had each kept a case in the classroom containing spare clothing, a rug and tinned food. The children assembled outside the school in Notting Hill Gate at 7.30am carrying their cases. Lydia’s mother had bought her a new raincoat and a canvas gas mask box, which made her feel ‘very grand’.

Lydia travelled to Shropshire and was disappointed that she was not machine gunned en route, like she had seen reported on the news! She did not feel scared, and saw the experience as an adventure. During the previous year her school had purchased a hall with the intention to convert it into living accommodation. Upon arrival there was just one large double bed. Three children slept at the top of the bed and three at the foot. As a temporary measure they picked bracken to fill their sleeping bags which were made from old eiderdowns. The children were later provided with desks and normal schooling resumed. Lydia felt very homesick.  

Returning home

After being evacuated for a year she returned home, but few schools were operating. She attended a convent school in Hammersmith where table tennis replaced lessons. As people returned from evacuation classes were resumed. She stayed at the school until she was fifteen, and was evacuated with other continuing students to Oxford.

Air raids

Lydia recalls travelling on a bus through Kensington Church Street, when the driver shouted at the passengers to take cover on the floor as a bomb had landed. When she returned home one day she found the road shut off as 9 unexploded bombs filled with sawdust had fallen. On another occasion a barrage balloon which was moored in the square close to where she lived had been shot down and had fallen onto her house. She recalls how the anti-aircraft guns kept the family awake at night, and how children were granted permission to arrive late to school if an air raid had taken place the night before. Few children were brave enough to take advantage of this!

At home the family slept under the kitchen table as the Anderson shelter flooded. Although bombs fell nearby the house she did not feel frightened as she was young and unaware of the potential consequences. She often collected shrapnel. Whereas Lydia’s father worked for the Ministry of Supplies in Bristol, Lydia and her mother remained in London. Her mother acted as a fire watcher and attended the training at Brook Green on a weekly basis with her mother and remembers the drill clearly. She had to crawl along the floor of a smoke filled hut to find an escape. Despite rationing, Lydia does not recall being hungry. She lived on the corner of Portobello Road Market and traders often gave her mother good produce. She recalls that oranges were available but there were no bananas.

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Lydia Spurrier
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To read more about Lydia's wartime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 06/06/2012.

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