PAT ANTOLAK’S MEMORIES

“We had evacuees sent to Allonby from the North-East. They had to be met at Bulgill station, the nearest railway stop. One day, this big load of mothers and babies came from the Newcastle area. The poor things had been on the train since seven or eight o’clock in the morning. It had been a twelve hour trip for them with the young babies and just what they could carry with them. Some of them had been bombed out. They came to Allonby and I was the WVS Reception Officer for them. I had to welcome them in and see they got to the right place at the right time. When they arrived, there were some nursing mothers who hadn’t had anything to drink and they wanted water badly. So I had to ask someone from a nearby farm if we could have one of their milk churns and fill it with water for these poor mothers to have a drink.

We had quite a number of evacuees in Allonby but they didn’t stay long. They had left when things over there were really bad and then they returned. We had a mother and four children at the vicarage. We had an attic with back stairs up to it and they had that like a flat of their own. They had to use our kitchen but they came down the back stairs when they wanted it. They had a sitting room and two bedrooms up in the attic so they were quite comfortable there.

After a while, when things had settled down a bit, they started to have bus trips for relatives who wanted to come and see their loved ones. They used to descend on Allonby from the North-East on a Sunday which was rather a busy day for a vicar’s household to welcome these people in. Anyhow they came and made themselves comfortable with us for the day but they were fairly choosey about what they wanted to eat.

The children went to the village school. It was a difficult time; we used the church hall to get things sorted out. There was no military presence in Allonby but the Silloth boys used to come on their bicycles to the little dances in the village hall and livened-up the village.”

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