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Where's Bobby Now?

by Bill Clark

Bill Clark sent in this letter which describes some of his memories of the Evacuation. It's a great resource for teachers covering life in Britain during World War II.

 

<- 'The photo is of my mother Mrs M. Clark, Bobby Gledhill & my brother John and myself taken in Upton in 1940.'

 

I first met Bobby Gledhill at 9am on Friday the 1st of September 1939 at Globe Road Primary School in the East end of London. My younger brother John and I were waiting to be Evacuated to an unknown destination in the countryside where it was hoped we would be safe from bombs being dropped by German aircraft in the event of war being declared.

We were each issued with a large tie on label on which was written details of our name, school and home address. These were tied to our coats which made us feel like human parcels.

Just before moving off we were asked to look after a small 5 year old boy named Bobby. His mother was a widow and was very anxious for the welfare of her little son. John and I agreed to do this and inspite of a few problems on the way we did manage to keep him with us.

After walking to the nearest railway station we boarded a special train along with hundreds of other children and were transported to a small town near Norwich in Norfolk. Our group of about fifty were then taken by bus to a small village called Upton. We disembarked at the Village School and were greeted by a reception committee consisting of the Billeting Officer and his assistants and also some of the prospective foster parents. They were very kind to us and gave us light refreshments while they attempted to sort out and match what to them must have seemed a very mixed bunch of kids to likely foster homes.

It was at this time that we had our first problems in fulfilling our promise to Bobby's mum as there wasn't anyone willing to take three boys. However, the Billeting Officer proved not only to be resourcesful but to be well versed in local knowledge. The outcome of this was that John and I were billeted with a Mr and Mrs Woods and Bobby was billeted next door with Mr Wood's married sister. This worked out very well as they had no children of their own and were very pleased to have Bobby.

We were taken to our foster homes and made very welcome by our hosts who suggested we call them Aunt and Uncle. Our first task was to send off a pre-printed postcard to our parents to let them know where we were.

On Sunday the 3rd of September we listened to the Prime Minister's broadcast and heard the sad news that we were now at war. We soon settled down to make the best of the situation and adapted to the ways of Country life. We were very fortunate with our foster parents and some weeks later Mum and Dad paid us a visit and were reassured of our well-being. We continued our stay in Upton as 140 dawned, the severe winter ended and the spring brought new growth everywhere in the surrounding countryside.

There was however one sad event during this period when we said goodbye to Bobby Glenhill. Like many other kids his mother sent for him to go back home to London as up to this time there had been no air raids and lots of parents thought it would be safe to bring their children home. Little did they realise how soon all this would change for the worse.

We never did hear whether Bobby had arrived home safely. Some time later my mother went around to visit him but found that the area had been heavily bombed and she was unable to locate him.

I have often wondered whether Bobby survived the Blitz and if he is still alive today. If so he would be about 65 years old. It would be great to receive news of Bobby after all this time. Please contact me if you have any information. [Since this resource was added Bill has managed to get in touch with Bobby who was quite excited to hear from him after 60 years!]




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