Evacuation and the supply of gas masks in London

Lilian Cooper was nearly nine years old when she was evacuated from her home in Walthamstowe East London. A year before her evacuation, Lilian's neighbourhood received notice about the distribution of gas masks. Lilian recalls the day:

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Mr Cooper was just over nine years old when he was evacuated from his home in Chingford East London. He evacuated with his school on the day war was declared.

Two days before war was declared, Lilian, her brother and younger sister were evacuated. They were evacuated with children from their brother’s All Boy School. A train took them to Bedfordshire and from there they travelled by coach to surrounding villages. On the way, the coach stopped at a food market. All of the children received a paper bag and were told to approach the market stall owners for an item of food. Pat recalls some the items she was given:

“..a tin of corn beef..a tin of condensed milk and..a big bar of chocolate..I tell you I was a ..poor looking child..so the man called me back and gave me another bar of chocolate.”

Mr Cooper's school travelled by double Decker bus. The children enjoyed the bus journey and sang throughout.

“..it was a big adventure as far as we were concerned..”

Evacuee life in Colmworth

Lilian and her sister joined their brother and twenty six other boys in the village of Colmworth. There were just three other evacuee girls with them.

The children were taught in two rooms of the local school. The younger children, including Lilian’s sister, took lessons from the Headmistress’s daughter whilst the older children took lessons from their Headmistress.

Lilian and her brother and sister lived together with the Lord of the Manor and his wife at their Manor House.


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