Arthur Moy

Photo:A photograph of Arthur Moy.

A photograph of Arthur Moy.

Arthur Moy

Recollections of evacuation to Eastry.

Grimsby to Gillingham

Arthur was born in Grimsby, an only child. His parents had violent arguments and Arthur’s grandparents decided that he should spend six months in Grimsby and six months Gillingham in order to remove him from the situation. Unfortunately this meant that Arthur was unable to settle at school. In Kent, his northern accent proved a barrier to communication with teachers and classmates; in Grimsby he was isolated and was viewed as ‘snobbish’.

Evacuation

Arthur spent the summer of 1939 in Gillingham with his grandmother. Whilst he heard the war mentioned he did not understand it. He was sent to the local school and was taught to use a gasmask.  After the summer break he was evacuated with his cousins Paul and Peggy. They were told that they were going on a hop-picking holiday. Many of the children at Gillingham train station were upset and Arthur worried that he would be separated from his cousins. They travelled to Sandwich and were assigned billets. Peggy was separated from the boys, who were billeted with the Belsons. Arthur was frightened but soon settled in. He recalls picking tomatoes in the greenhouses and it transpired that Peggy was staying with a family who lived close by.

'The happiest time of my young life' 

One Sunday in September 1939 the air-raid siren sounded. They sheltered in a boiler-house. Upon their return to the house they heard the outbreak of war announced on the radio. Shortly afterwards Arthur and Paul left the Belson family and were sent to live with Alfred and Dorothy Martin in Eastry, ‘thus began the happiest time of my young life...it was the first time that I felt wanted.’

Arthur recalls how kind the couple were to him. The boys visited the tomato nursery with Mr Martin who let them pick the produce, and they played with the local children. Arthur enjoyed school and at weekends the evacuees went on long walks together and sang songs. He learnt about the countryside (but had initially been scared of the sheep which lived in the field behind the Martin’s house.)

The only remaining evacuee

Arthur attended Chapel on Sundays, and many of the ladies brought him cakes and sweets. Arthur spent Christmas 1939 with the Martins and had a wonderful time. When his cousins returned to Gillingham Arthur was sad to see them leave but chose to stay at Eastry. He was given a part in the school play as a ‘wallpaper man...I got a big laugh with my roll of paper and my broad North Country dialect.’ He recalls seeing French troops passing through the village, and hearing the siren, but did not understand their significance. Eventually Arthur was the only remaining evacuee. His parents arranged for him to return to Grimsby. He was very upset and does not recall much about his journey home, except seeing the wounded soldiers on the train. He arrived in Grimsby and met his grandmother during an air raid. Arthur recalls his memories of the Martins with great fondness ‘their kindness and compassion will always remain with me until the end of my days.’

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To read more about Arthur's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 11/08/2012.
Comments about this page

What a very candid and moving recollection - I am working on a resource to teach Primary School children about Evacuation during the war and I am sure they will enjoy reading about Arthur's adventures. This will also help them to understand all the issues children had to cope with during the war. Thank you.

By Cate Martin
On 22/10/2012

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