A New life

For the evacuees who came to Old Bradwell life was very different from what they had been used to, many had no experience of the countryside. One evacuee told us that they "didn't know what had hit them" when they arrived. It was not long however before they began to settle into their billets and Old Bradwell and its people seemed less strange. Children went to school together and quickly made friends.

A number of activities were organized by the mothers of evacuated children, notably Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Drage. There was a regular Friday evening club for evacuees in the village hall and occasional parties were held (for a newspaper report of the christmas 1941 party click here).

The village school was also kept open during the holidays where, according to the school log, children would read, play games and perform improvised plays. Mrs. Willet (the schoolmistress) noted in the log for Christmas 1941 that the children attended "free picture shows" in the mornings. One of the films showing at the Empire cinema in Wolverton was Walt Disney's Pinochio.

Keeping in Contact

For the children separated from their parents, keeping in contact could be difficult; telephones were not common and travel by road or train was restricted. Most exchanged letters on a regular basis.

One determined father would rise early each Sunday morning so that he could make the 90mile round trip from Willesden to Old Bradwell to visit his three children. This may not seem unusual until you learn that he made the trip by bicycle (to hear more click here)

All in all evacuees were welcomed into village life, to such an extent that when billeting officer Smith's daughter Dorothy married, she chose an evacuee (Jean Sutton) as her bridesmaid.

Going Home

After the danger of air raids had passed the evacuees began to return home. The Wolverton Express reports a special train returning the last of them in June 1945. Some however stayed on, mothers who had come with their small children made homes here and were joined by their husbands after the war. Others returned for visits. One (May Garner) eventually married a local man and still plays a leading part in village life today.

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