Laurence (Laurie) Henry Ford

Wartime memories of evacuation.

Evacuation

Although Laurence was a pupil at Palmer’s School in Grays when the war broke out, he was not allowed to participate in the school’s evacuation programme as he lived in a neighbouring borough. Rather, he was evacuated as part of the Rainham schools’ evacuation programme. He was evacuated twice, initially on 3rd September 1939, when he caught a ‘Fairplay’ bus, provided by a local benefactor called Robert Middlemas, and again on 18th June 1940, when Laurence was billeted to South Devon.

After a short while Laurence was transferred to Marlow where his mother had moved to in October 1940. They then moved to Oxford, where Laurence was billeted in approximately six different private homes and two Children’s Hostels. Local authorities arranged for the evacuees to use various schools and colleges such as Milham Ford (for the girls), and Oxford High and Southfields (for the boys).

The recreation of a journey

On Sunday 3rd September, 1989 Laurence recreated the journey which he had made as an evacuee exactly 50 years ago. Rather than using buses and train Laurence walked the journey, aided by his knowledge of Public Rights of way footpaths, which he had gained through his work for charities organising Cross-Country walks. He began the journey at 1:30am at the school which he had attended at Rainham and undertook the 31 mile long walk through the night. At 1.15pm he arrived at the main town square in Rochford and was greeted by well wishers. Laurence presented a letter from the Mayor of Havering to the leader of Rochford Council, thanking those who had accepted evacuees into their homes 50 years earlier.

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

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 29/01/2012.

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