Hazel's story

The corned beef and the butler


My name is Hazel and I was born in 1926 in Lewisham, London In 1939 when war was declared, I was twelve years old, and attended a private school as a scholarship pupil. When the whole school was evacuated, we all went together, teacher, headmistress plus all the equipment we needed for studying. The headmistress made sure that no war was going to interfere with the girls' education! As I was twelve years old, I treated the whole thing as an adventure.



My first move was not too far from London, a place called Ashford in Kent. We were in the village hall waiting to be chosen by our respective hosts. when I remember being given a tin of corned beef and a tin of condensed milk for our supper that night! I had never tasted corned beef before and thought it was a real laugh.to be given this tinned food. The Lady of the Manor chose two girls and as there was only one of us left, we pleaded with her to stay together. She said 'oh, very well, I will ring the butler and tell him to put up another bed.'



The Lady of the Manor and her family were very rich people. They lived in a huge house with a home farm attached. We three girls were told to go downstairs with the butler and his wife (who was the cook). They were Austrian and spoke very little English. One day, the Lady called us into the sitting room and said 'we could play anywhere in the gardens except in front of the drawing room'



This life of luxury only lasted ten days. We were relocated to the centre of Ashford, which was a big town not far away from the big house So off I went with the billeting teacher to my new home. On arrival, the lady said 'I wanted two little girls' but when she was told there weren't any, she said, 'OK, I will take a big girl instead'.



The couple were very nice, and were childless. My first shock was the discovery of no inside toilet or bathroom. A pot under the bed was the answer to emergencies in the night. The first chore every morning was a bucket for collection.. I had never seen this before because we had a bathroom, and toilet and telephone at home! I moved several times afterwards, so I got used to this scenario. Bath night in every house I stayed in was Friday night, rigidly applied by everyone.



Kent wasn't much safer than London, so Hazel moved again - this time to Wales - you can read more here.....



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