The Home Front : Evacuees come to the Parish

At the start of the Second World War the Government organised a mass-evacuation of people from towns and cities in danger of being bombed – this was Operation Pied Piper. Most of the evacuees were children, who were separated from their parents and travelled by trains to rural locations. At the start of September 1939 nearly 3 million were evacuated.

The 3 evacuees here are L to R : Leonard Bluck, Joan Ethridge and Raymond Ethridge. The adults are Kate Martin, Beat Talbot and Rose Pugsley.

From the archive of Mr.& Mrs. Martin, via Leonard Bluck.

The Parish of Kingsbury Episcopi took in a number of evacuees during the war and some local families still have photographs of them, even though they may have stayed a relatively short time.

May Fowler, Mrs.Hide, Lou Vera are shown here with four evacuees – their names are not recorded. Photograph from Betty Cox of East Lambrook.

Do you know their names? Please contact us.

The link below will take you to a short film of Betty talking about the war years when evacuees came to the parish, and going to school.

Betty Cox – Evacuees and School

Donald, Barbara, Yvonne and May Howell were evacuated from London and came to the Parish. Maggie Jones of London – who is May’s daughter – contacted us through Facebook with their photographs and stories.

Donald, Barbara, and Yvonne all attended Stembridge School – who has a school photo with them in?

Families who took in evacuees were part of a national Government Evacuation Scheme, and received a payment to cover the cost of food and lodging.

This letter came from the family of Hazel Manning-Johal.

The evacuation was not easy for either the children or their parents left behind. The letter here was written by Leonard Bluck’s mother in London to Mrs. Kate Martin, with whom he was billeted.

We have two first-hand accounts from boys who were evacuated here.

Frank Simmons has written a book about his life, which includes his experiences as an evacuee staying at Four Winds, East Lambrook with Mr.and Mrs.Jacobs. He remained at Four Winds for over 3 years, only reluctantly returning to London when his father became ill.

You can read his account by clicking on this link :

Life’s Uneven Pathways – Frank Simmons.

The second account comes from Leonard Bluck, who was also evacuated from London. He stayed with Mr.and Mrs.Martin of Dudmoor Cottage, Kingsbury Episcopi and enjoyed working on the farm. He returned to London, but was soon back to live in Somerset and then Devon, working with Mr. and Mrs. Martin on their farms. He made his life in the West Country, and now lives at Ash, just a few miles from Kingsbury.

Click on the links below to see a short film of Leonard talking about his time here as an evacuee; and photographs of the time, from the Martins’ photo album, which then became Leonard’s archive when they died.

A short film : Leonard Bluck – Evacuee

Leonard Bluck’s Album – War time, the Martins and the Satherleys

The photograph is of Barbara Howell, who was billeted at Little Island with William and Francis French – from Maggie Jones’ archive. Maggie remembers other evacuees – Elsie Beech, who stayed with the Guscot family at Burrow Way; Mrs.Burden and her son Terry, who rented Oak Tree Cottage, Burrow Hill. Betty Cox mentions Vera and Barbara Hyde, who were billeted with her family. Leonard Bluck remembers Mr.Norris, who was the billeting officer for Kingsbury Episcopi. No doubt Mr.Norris met the children off the train at Langport.

Who remembers these people – or has photographs of them?

Please be in contact if you can contribute to the Parish Archive.