World War II Jewish Evacuees

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What was happening in Soham in September 1939 was more immediately pressing than what was taking place on the battlefields of Poland. Mr Boyce began digging up his lawn to make a reinforced outdoor air-raid shelter. I even went through the motions of helping him but I - being a little overweight and more than a little lazy - found it hard going. Meanwhile the school had found a place to assemble, in the Church Hall, I believe, until arrangements were made for us to share accommodation for part of each day at the Shade School and eventually take over the Conservative Hall which was to become our “permanent” base.

It was a time of adaptation and discovery. Our education in the all-important broader sense of that term began from day one. Soham at the outbreak of the war was a village with a population of 5,000, uncluttered by cars, uncluttered by throngs of people even in the humming High Street during the busiest shopping hours, and with its imposing church tower dominating the village skyline, its quiet lanes, its gas-lit cottages and houses, its windmill, its fields and the surrounding Fenland never more than a few minutes walking distance, it was about as far removed from built-up bustling central London as most of us could imagine. And what better time could there have been to become familiar with our new surroundings than when we did? Day followed day basked in mellow sunlight, blackberries ripened in the hedges, the countryside was tinged with the colours of early autumn.

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