World War II Jewish Evacuees

We wrote to our parents without delay reporting all the wonders. Mr. Boyce had over a thousand chickens! More precisely, as we knew, he had eleven hundred, but a thousand sounded better. And Mrs. Boyce wrote too, promising that she would care for us as she did her own two boys. And when that night, our first ever away from parental care, we were woken by a cracking thunderstorm she came into our room to allay any fears asking if we would like Donald to stay with us.

Nearly six years later, in the early hours of V E Day, another memorable thunderstorm woke everyone up, only this time we in London lay in our beds listening with wonder to the sound and fury, serene in the certainty that it was “only thunder”. Saturday morning, and the issue was Wellington boots. “A boy can’t live in the country without Wellingtons,” Mr Boyce said. The day was the Jewish Sabbath when entering shops was unthinkable - a sin. But we went with him un-protesting to the local shoe shop because 24 hours is a long time to be away from home influence and - well, a boy can’t live in the country without Wellingtons. The following day a different issue was occupying our minds. We were in the garden when Mrs. Boyce came to tell us that this country is now at war with Germany. “Does that mean,” I asked, “that war has broken out?” The wording seemed to matter. “Yes,” she replied, “we are at war.” I think I went on playing. The not insensitive boy whose childhood was haunted by the spectre of war relegated the Dread Presence at the moment of his coming to his place in the queue. I still find this disconcerting.


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