Brian Clark

Recollections of childhood memories of life on the Home Front and evacuation to South Wales.

A shelter in the garden

When the war broke out Brian Clark lived in Hounslow with his mother and father. In 1939 he was almost seven years old and was innocent of the devastating effect which the conflict would have upon British society. In 1940, Brian’s father constructed an air raid shelter in the back garden of the family home, which was heavily used after the Blitz commenced in September 1940. When the air raid sirens sounded the family emerged from the shelter – Brian is still able to picture the sight of London burning after the docks had been bombed.  

In November 1940 his father built an indoor air raid shelter to avoid the discomfort of the underground shelter. Initially Brian felt that war was an adventure and collected shrapnel on his way to school – German shrapnel was particularly desirable as it could be easily swapped in the playground.

A lucky escape

At the end of the street where Brian and his family lived was a field where the ARP Headquarters was located – his father served as an ARP warden. One night when his father was on duty, Brian and his mother were awakened by an explosion which made the house shake. His mother rushed towards the field, where a cloud of smoke was emanating from – fortunately Brian’s father escaped the bomb unharmed. He had dived for cover and landed in one of the furrows of nearby vegetable patch. Fortunately the bomb had landed in the field and so the majority of houses lost only their window panes.

Away to Mumbles

Following this event Brian and five of his friends from the local area (four boys and one girl) were evacuated to Mumbles. The boys stayed with Gwen and Carl Mock, who were aunt and uncle to Peter Cooke, one of the evacuees. The couple were willing to house all of the boys, despite the overcrowding which this resulted in. The boys quickly settled in, made lots of friends and spent time exploring the local beaches and bays of the South Wales coastline.  

Revisiting childhood memories

Returning to Mumbles in 2009 Brian was surprised to find that it had hardly changed since his time there as an evacuee. The old cinema which he visited with ‘the gang’ retained its old facade although it had become an amusement arcade. Brian located Gwen and Carl’s house and asked a neighbour if he had known of them. He was put in contact with a local lady who knew the area well and who remembered the couple. She provided Brian with an address for their daughter Joyce, who still lived in Mumbles. Having made contact with Joyce’s daughter and discovered that she was not at home, Brian and his family explored the local countryside and re-visited some of the beaches and bays where he had spent time as a boy. He was pleased to discover that little had changed as his memories came flooding back.

Although Brian was nervous about meeting Joyce they greeted each other like old friends and he was reminded of many of his war time memories which he had forgotten. He was also able to obtain contact details for Joyce’s cousin Peter Cooke, who, along with the other boys, he had sadly lost contact with after their return to Hounslow. He has since been in touch with Peter and has tried to contact other members of the group who he was evacuated with.

A great sacrifice

The unexpected events which occurred when Brian revisited Mumbles have reinforced his perceptions that those who took in evacuees during the war years contributed as much to the war effort as those working in munitions factories and those serving in the forces and their actions should not ever be forgotten.

Downloads

Brian Clark
Brian Clark (60k)
To read more about Brian's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 15/01/2012.

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