June 23rd 2015, a day we will all remember. Why? Our clothing was itchy, woolly jumpers, old hats, long socks and our winter coats. We were ready to be evacuated!
75 years ago the whole of our Island Community was given two hours’ notice, to pack their suitcases and get to the harbour. The bells at St Anne’s church summoned everyone. The Germans were very close – just across the water in France. The whole population went on 6 cargo boats to Weymouth in England. This journey took them six hours and was said to be very uncomfortable. After that some travelled further afield on trains as far as Manchester or Glasgow. We were given the chance to re-enact this experience.
We arrived at school and it took a while to recognise our friends, they looked a little strange in their 1940’s clothing. Some people had small suitcases to take with them, others had bundles of items wrapped in brown paper. Some were carrying gas mask boxes.
At about 10.45am some parents came to school to collect their children and take them home so that they could be evacuated as a family. The Year 6,7,8 and 9 students were evacuated with their teachers. We were lined up in the playground and everyone was checked on a register. Then we were marched in twos to the harbour. It was a beautiful day and some of us were very hot as we had worn warm clothing for the journey. At the harbour we were checked again before we were allowed onto the boat.
For us we had a wonderful trip around our island, on the sparkly blue sea. First we headed out to the tiny island of Burhou, then went past the gannets, before we circumnavigated the island. It was wonderful to see them so close. As we travelled around the island we thought about what it would have been like for the real evacuees 75 years ago. Some people took part in a play. It was a short story told by one of the original evacuees. He said, “a member of the crew came around and gave Aero chocolate bars to some of us. My mum said, “go and give one of those to your grandfather.” I remember going up to him. He was an old man of 90. All of his worldly possessions were in a turnip sack. I gave him the chocolate and he said thank you.”
When we got back we spent the afternoon in school in mixed aged groups, doing cross curricular lessons about the re-enactment, to present in our house groups in the whole school assembly on Friday morning.
We played an important part in helping the original evacuees remember the day. It was a great history lesson for us because we did it ourselves. Our parents and the old people of the island all joined in. We had an enjoyable fun opportunity and it made us more aware of how lucky we are to live on our beautiful island today.
By Year 6