Samuel Chidwick

Photo:Samuel Chidwick

Samuel Chidwick

Samuel Chidwick

Recollections of evacuation to Wales.

The outbreak of war

Samuel was six years old when the war broke out and was living on Devonshire road in Dover, he was the youngest of nine children. His earliest memory of the war is of playing with his sisters when an older boy came to inform them that war had been declared. The news had little effect on Samuel as he did not understand the meaning of war.

Samuel further remembers the Anderson shelter being delivered to his house and his father setting it up before it became a very familiar place as the family would sleep there during air raids inconvenienced by the cold weather causing damp.

Evacuation to Wales

He attended St Bartholomew’s Primary School where they were issued with gasmasks and a letter to their parents stating that the school was to be evacuated to Wales, at the same time a similar procedure was going on at Samuel’s sister Ruth’s school. Although their parents wanted them to stay as a family they were evacuated to New Tredegar, a mining village, but when Samuel arrived he was to find out that his sister had gone to Blackwood and so they were no longer going to be together. This upset Samuel but a policeman took him to stay with a Mr and Mrs Griffiths. On arrival he opened his suitcase on the table only to find that he had Ruth’s clothes – this caused him some trouble with the boys who already lived at the house. During the day at school Samuel enjoyed himself with his old classmates but when he got home the boys would bully him and so one day he lashed out at them causing a turning point of his relationship with the family.

Returning home

Around five months after arriving in New Tredegar Samuel was excited to hear from a local boy that his sister was at the bottom of the hill. He ran to the car but the joyous reunion only lasted around half an hour before his sister had to return to Blackwood and the two were not to be reunited until 1943. Just two months later Samuel recognised a sailor as his brother Joe and ran to hug him. Samuel explained how unhappy he was in Wales and his brother relayed the message to his parents who came to pick him up. They returned home to find two more of Samuel’s brothers Perce and Charlie whose lives had both been feared for by their mother.

Life on the Home Front

Whilst back at home Samuel remembers all schools, cinemas and other places of entertainment being closed so he played games like hopscotch and five stones to pass the time. When he was nine he was given his first chores of looking after the rabbits – something that he hated doing!

Then, in 1943, when Samuel was ten, the schools and cinemas began opening. Samuel and his friend Teddy would sneak in to the cinemas after he had done his Saturday chores.

Doodlebugs

Finally Samuel’s mother brought Ruth back home and whilst the two were feeding the rabbits in the back garden they heard what sounded like a motorbike exhaust before seeing what were quickly dubbed as doodlebugs – some of the first flying bombs.

The end of war

When the war ended Samuel recalls celebrations in the streets for days. Two years after the war had ended he left school and went off to sea carrying ammunition to Palestine.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 07/06/2012.
Comments about this page

I was evacuated from London to NewTredegar, likewise I did not enjoy one minute of it, even though i was accompanied by my Mother

By Bob Land
On 22/10/2012

I remember Sam (my uncle) telling me the story of how his oldest brother, my Dad (Joe), came to rescue him. [Minor correction: "Pierce" should be "Perce" (aka "Percy" or "Percival").]

By Brian Chidwick
On 26/08/2013

I remember my mum Kathleen (Sam's older sister by some 20 years) tell me about the doodlebugs as well. As long as you hear the sound you are safe, but if you see it and can't hear it, watch out! Many flew over Dover on the way to London. She and the rest of the family used to watch the RAF Spitfires over Dover dive down to catch the doodlebug and gently tip the small fins to upset the gyro and hopefully turn them back over to crash in the English Channel.

By Trev Taplin
On 09/12/2013

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