Adventures in Rye – Evacuation


To Somerset in 1940

by Winnie Hollands

It was September 1940. I was hop picking at Ashden Selmes’ Farm on the Peasmarsh Road. The Battle of Britain, raging overhead, was coming to a climax but we had no idea what the outcome would be. A German invasion seemed imminent.

Then my husband Jim arrived and said all the women and children were to be evacuated from Rye in the morning. I returned to Rye with him and my nearly two year old son.

The next morning Jim went to Gassons in Cinque Ports Street and purchased a haversack. Then, with the rest of the women and children from Rye we gathered at the station and waited for the train. It eventually left at 12.3Oam.

The journey to Taunton in Somerset took twelve hours. The train had no corridor and I can remem­ber an enamel poe I had for my son was passed up and down through the windows many times on that uncomfortable journey.

On arrival in Somerset the members of our family, Grandma Hollands, Nellie Goodsell, Betty Cannon and new baby Eileen along with myself and son Jim were allocated a nice farm cottage about ten miles from Taunton. I cannot remember the name of the village but my son christened the local shop “Macadorems.”

I have very few memories of the place except discovering I was expecting my second child, writing and phoning home every day and spend­ing Saturdays on shopping trips to Taunton with Nellie. We did got to the cinema there on a couple of occasions and I remember one of the films was “Fanny by Gaslight” We bought fish and chips to take home and the table would be all set when we got there for this rare feast for the family.

Other recollections include borrowing a dish big enough for all our family, by this time my own mother had joined us from London as the Blitz began to get heavier, from the local vicarage, going to the local church on Sundays and picking up acorns to sell for 8 shillings a hundredweight to a local farmer for pig food.

After six weeks we weighed the risk against the unbearable strain of being away from, and worrying about our menfolk, so we phoned home for the fare for the rail journey back.

I expect our experiences were very similar to all the women of Rye who were evacuated at that time but it would be interesting to hear about the adventures of others.

“Rye’s Own” June 2000

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