Wavertree is the area where I grew up, so I have many happy memories of that distinctive part of Liverpool. But at 6 years old, I was evacuated for 3 years near Chester. When the war became less dangerous, I returned to Salisbury Rd. There are many stories about the evacuation of WW-II children and what an unhappy experience it was for them. In the case of my sister and I, our evacuation was a wonderful, life-shaping experience that we cherish.
In 1939 the long-anticipated war between Germany and England was declared, and in my child's mind, I thought the war would be over quickly and maybe next year everything would be back to normal. At that time, our family home was at 73 Salisbury Rd, and my sister and I had to be evacuated. Our parents were notified by someone knocking at the door to deliver the firm order that evacuation plans were being implemented, and to leave them with a set of parental guidelines. Mum and Dad had very sad faces when they broke the news to Betty and me, informing us that we would have to live away from home for a time. They tried to look on the bright side, but could not answer our questions about where we were going, who we would be staying with, and for how long. But there was nothing we could do about it, so essential clothes were packed, and many instructions were given to Betty, who was then 11 years old. One of Mum's firmest instructions was: "Betty, now listen very carefully. You must never, ever, be separated from John. If anyone suggests that, be absolutely adamant and refuse to leave him". "Yes, Mum. But suppose I can't help it?" "Then tell the police or anyone who is in charge and make a great big fuss. But you must never leave him. Do you understand?"
Lawrence Road School was only a few blocks away and when we walked there many buses were already lined up to start the evacuation. We said our goodbyes to Mum and Dad, slung our gas masks over our shoulders, made sure our name tags were visible, checked our snacks and what little clothing we could carry would not fall out of our bags, then set off on a totally new and vastly different experience. The bus took us to Lime Street station, where crowds of people were gathered, apprehensive about this historic event. The train was waiting and the journey began. As the train passed through each station, we eagerly looked for the name of the place, but all name boards had been removed to avoid giving information to spies. Somehow, word spread that we were in the old Roman city of Chester. We got off and were driven to the Tarvin distribution centre, to be selected by our new custodians. A lady chatted with Betty, and then turned to the man beside her "This little girl seems nice, so we had better take her". Betty immediately spoke up and said that our mother had insisted that she not be separated from her brother, John, putting her arm around me to symbolize our inseparability. A brief discussion between the lady and her husband took place, and then the man spoke up. "Well, his name is John, the same as mine, so let's take him and we'll find room somehow". It was a momentous point in my life, and one for which I have always been profoundly grateful.
This was the start of an absolutely wonderful experience, and one that helped mould our lives. Our new "Mum and Dad" were John and Jessie Morrey of Brook Farm, Duddon, Cheshire. During the 3 years we were there, they gave us endless love. They instilled in us a deep respect for the countryside, and were such a tremendous influence on me that I wrote a book about it (see the end of this for details).