Granville Bantock

Evacuation overseas

Granville Bantock talks about his experience of evacuation to America.

Recollections of evacuation to New York and service in Burma.

Evacuation to America

Granville Bantock was a pupil at the Actor’s Orphanage, Chertsey. In July 1940 the school’s committee (of which Noel Coward was a member) determined that the children should be evacuated to Hollywood for safety. It was to be a private enterprise, not subject to the conditions determined by the British Government’s overseas evacuation scheme.

Fifty four children and two schoolmistresses were to be evacuated – all other teaching staff were subsequently unemployed. Teacher Patricia Lennon found alternative work on board the Vollemdam, which left Britain for Canada as part of the government scheme. The ship was torpedoed – fortunately all were rescued. Granville and the other children were worried when they heard of Patricia’s experience but by September 1940 they were ready to depart for Liverpool to board the City of Benares. However, the trip was cancelled as those children who had been rescued from the Vollemdam were given priority, and boarded the ship in the place of those from the Actors Orphanage. Tragically, the ship was torpedoed on the 17th September. There were no survivors and the Government abandoned the overseas evacuation scheme.

Granville and the other children were evacuated on 15th September. They travelled to Canada on the Empress of Australia, reaching their destination without incident in early October, 1940. Wounded Canadian soldiers and Dutch crew who had been rescued from the ill-fated Vollemdam travelled with the children, and friendships were formed. Many of the children were evacuated to New York, rather than Hollywood.

Returning to Britain

Granville returned to Britain in 1942, and joined the army. He served for four years, and by the end of the war was an Officer in the British 14th Army in Burma.  


Letter written by Granville Bantock
Letter written by Granville Bantock (43k)
To read more about Granville's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

Interview with Granville Bantock
Interview with Granville Bantock (185k)
To read the full transcript of Granville's interview please press the above link.

Evacuation overseas
Evacuation overseas (60k)
Transcript of audio clip with Granville Bantock.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 06/01/2012.