NOTICE OF EVACUATION TO PARENTS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN FOLKESTONE
I would like to thank Carol Sage and her Uncle Donald Gibbs for passing this letter to me and allowing it to be included in the website.
Don was a pupil at St Mary′s School, Folkestone and was about nine years old when he and his fellow pupils and teachers were evacuated to Goytre (Goetre) in the Usk Valley near Abergavenny in Wales. He was one of the lucky children who has fond memories of his time spent on a farm in Wales.
Don remembers these teachers most of whom accompanied the children to Goytre. Miss Eastwick the Headteacher, and teachers Miss Osbourne, Mrs Ransome (whose husband was a prisoner of the Japanese) and Miss Simms. Mrs Ransome′s son went with her to Wales. A helper, Mrs Brickel went to Goytre too to help look after the children. She was the mother of two of the girls in the group, Betty and her younger sister Ann. Don remembers another teacher at St. Mary′s called Mr Nichols, but he didn′t go with the evacuees to Goytre.
I wonder if there are others out there who remember going with this party?
Notice how little time is given for preparation. The letter was sent dated 27th May 1940. The evacuation of Dunkirk would have already started, the invasion was expected any time. It gave just two days to decide and one week before the children were due to leave. How hard it must have been to decide what to do for the best. Many children left and some remained. What a decision to have to make.
Here is the letter. A transcription follows below.
Transcription of the letter
GOVERNMENT EVACUATION SCHEME
TO PARENTS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
Arrangements to be made immediatelyAs you have no doubt learnt from the Minister of Health′s broadcast on Sunday night and from the newspapers, the Government have decided that parents of school children living in this town are to have an opportunity of sending their children away to a safer district. The evacuation of school children will begin on Sunday next the 2nd June. Whether it will be possible for all the children to go on the one day will depend upon how many there are to go. If there are too many for them all to go on Sunday, the rest will go on Monday, and if necessary, on Tuesday, and following days. In order that trains may be ready to take the children whose parents wish them to go, the Council must know at once how many parents intend to send their children away. If you wish your child to go, please fill in the form sent with this notice, and get your child to bring it to school as soon as you possibly can, and in any case not later than 9 a.m.on Wednesday, the 29th May. Even if you have already been to the school, and said that you wish your child to go, you must fill in the form and return it to his or her school. Please remember –
(1) that only those children whose parents register them at the shool, as explained above, before 9 o′clock a.m. on Wednesday, will be taken:
(2) that when the children have been taken to safer areas, parents will be expected to leave them there until the Government decide that it is safe for them to return.
The children will go to places in the Midlands and Wales that the Government consider are safer than this town. You are free to decide for yourself whether your child should be sent away to a safer area or not. It is hoped that parents will not decide to keep their children in this town without thinking very seriously whether such a decision is in the best interests of the children themselves.
Arrangements to be made when evacuation is ordered.
2. Cleanliness. After evacuation had taken place last September complaints were made by householders in the receiving areas that some of the children were not clean. You will wish to be sure that this cannot be said about your own child and to do everything possible to make sure that he goes away with clean clothes, clean hair and clean body, for every mother will wish her child to arrive at his new home in a state in which he will be gladly welcomed.
3. Clothes and Equipment. When evacuation is ordered your child should bring with him the following articles: –
Gas Mask. Change of underclothing. Warm coat or mackintosh. Identity card. Night clothes. Tooth brush. Ration Book Handkerchiefs. Comb. Food for the day. Spare stockings or socks. Towel. House shoes or plimsollsHe should wear his warmest and thickest boots or shoes. The child′s clothes should if possible be packed in a rucksack or haversack which he can carry on his back so as to leave his hands free, rather than in a suitcase. The luggage must not be more than the child can carry.
The other clothes that he will need can be sent later on.
4. Ration books Be sure your child has his ration book with him. If pages of coupons out of his book have been deposited with retailers, ask for their return and pin the pages in the ration book. If the child leaves before the pages have been recovered, forward them to the child at his/her new address.
PLEASE keep this notice for reference and return the form to your child′s school immediately if you want him or her to take part in the evacuation scheme. PTO
Application for new Ration books must be made on the reference card in the back of the book, to the Local Food Office named on the front of the book, giving your local address for the new book to be sent: when received the new book should at once be sent to the child in the new area.
Education Offices, J. A. WILKINSON
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