Patrick Holland's Story



I was evacuated from Morden, a south London suburb at the time when the V2 rockets started to arrive.

I was evacuated to a small coal mining community called Smithies just outside of Barnsley in South Yorkshire.

I was taken in by the Perkins family and spent the rest of the war in their care.

It was one of the happiest times of my life.

I went to school in Barnsley.

From my bedroom window I could see eleven slag heaps of the collieries which encircled the village. Living in a

small coal mining village was an experience I shall never forget.




Hi Gerry and the Gang,

I was very interested to hear what you lot had for nosh when you were kids in the East End.

Us kids in " Sarf " London, around the Elephant & Castle area, we never had things like bagels and platzels.

We ate things like jellied eels and pie & mash with lots of liquor and faggots ( long before that word got another meaning) and bubble and squeak, and bangers and mash, and tripe and onions, and pigs trotters ( neither of which I would or could eat ) and dumplings and corned beef and bread and dripping, and Fish and Chips.

I loved the days when Mum made lots of spaghetti with thick, deep red tomato puree and days when Dad made his tasty vegetable stews with fresh vegetables straight from the garden. (As a kid, I used to wander around the streets with a bucket and shovel collecting horse manure for our garden ). On Sundays, we had winkles and cockles and whelks and beetroot and celery. The grownups always joked about the celery, the men laughed and the women giggled. Us kids never knew what they were laughing about (the word sex was never mentioned in them days).

For afters, we ate things like, jelly covered with Carnation milk or spotted dick with lots of hot custard all over it, or rice pudding, or treacle pudding, or bread and butter pudding and my favourite, bread pudding, which my wife still makes for me.

We always drank lots of tea, so strong that, " you could stand the spoon up in it ," with 2 - 3 teaspoonful of sugar and Sterilized milk (we didn't have a fridge ), added for taste. " Sometimes we had Camp coffee with Condensed milk.

At school they gave us milk (cold or hot, I always liked it hot). Some days we were given a big spoonful of cod liver oil, on another day we got a big spoonful of malt.

Nobody had heard of Cholesterol and high blood pressure, and the danger of passive smoking in those days so we sprinkled lots of salt on everything. Ate lots of bread and butter, and bread and dripping, and Dad smoked Woodbines in the house all the time.

When we moved out to Morden, the year the war started; we went scrumping for apples and pears in our neighbors gardens at night.

On one such skirmish, the owner suddenly opened his back door and as the light shone into the garden, he saw us and yelled out, a girl in our gang, panicked and pushed me just as I was climbing over a wire fence, the wire cut into me and I was quite sore for a few days afterwards but had to suffer in silence because I was too shy to tell my mother where I had been injured. I can assure you, it was the closest I've ever come to being circumcised.

I look forward to hearing more tales of nostalgia from the gang.

All the best from the West (Australia),




Hi Gang,

It's very interesting to hear all you East End lot going on

about crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary, like a bunch of film stars,

in 4, 5 or 6 days.

When we came to Australia on the 10 pound assisted passage scheme our,

ship, the "Fair Star," was only 20,000 tonne, one of several migrant

ships run by the Italian owned Sitmar Line. Referred to affectionately by

her former passengers as The SICKmar Line. We left Southampton on May 9th

1965 and got to Fremantle just before midnight on the 1st of June. (21

days, please note). I can still remember, how the warm night air was

scented with the wonderful smell of eucalyptus from the gum trees

surrounding the migrant hostel, as we disembarked from the bus which had

picked us up from Fremantle docks.

The first words we heard from an Australian, as we struggled down the gang

plank, were, "Another boatload of bloody Poms" Apparently, the Australian

Government hadn't done a very good job of convincing the locals that they

needed us. Thirty years later, it hasn't really changed, although in the

mean time, Australia has become one of the most multicultural countries on


On board the " Fair Star " there was a mixture of English and European

migrants, including 500 children. The lifts were coffin size and once we

were in one, packed like sardines, when it became stuck between decks, the

lights went out and the air conditioning packed up; an elderly lady from

Southern Europe became hysterical. It was a very unpleasant reminder that

this was no luxury cruise ship we were on. I noticed for some time after

that experience, that I avoided using lifts until I was eventually forced

to use them again when skyscrapers became fashionable in Perth.

During the voyage, nearly everybody on board eventually succumbed to "the

runs ." The ship's doctor, was an arrogant young Italian guy, who obviously

considered all migrants were the lowest form of life and just gave you

some pills and got rid of you as fast as he could. Any attempt to talk to

him was ignored so when I tried to say something, he just looked around at

his ' bodyguard', a big tough looking sailor standing behind his desk, I

got the message and departed. I assumed that neither of them had heard of

the Hippocratic Oath.

We first went ashore at Port Said. With four youngster in tow, we went

sight seeing and inadvertently wandered off into the side streets. Where

upon, as soon as the local Arab kids saw us they immediately picked up

stones and other objects and pelted us with them. We quickly got back into

the main street and stopped a passing horse drawn open carriage which was

heading back to the ship. When we got there, I became involved in a nasty

argument with the cab driver, who asked for an outrageous fare for a very

brief ride. Fortunately, a large Arab Policeman standing nearby heard all

this and took our side and told the cab driver to take the money I offered

him and clear off, which he did very reluctantly, cursing and swearing at

us as the policeman pushed him away.

Our next shore leave was at Aden where Arab nationalistic aspirations had

recently inspired the locals to attack any vulnerable Europeans as they

went about their daily activities, in an attempt to expedite the departure

of the hated Infidels. The week before we got there, an elderly English

lady had been killed by a grenade thrown into a crowd while she was out

shopping. On shore, it was very tense, Jeeps full of heavily armed British

troops, hovered around us as we wandered among the street vendors stalls,

foot soldiers carrying rifles and sten guns were everywhere. One migrant

almost started WWIII when she pointed her camera at some Arabs and found

herself facing an irate bulky Arab women who ran towards, like a charging

wild elephant, waving her arms and screaming abuse.

Were there any good things about the voyage? Well surprisingly, the food

was very good and well served and the wine was not only very good but was

also very cheap as well. Every night a small band started the evening's

entertainment with the tune, "Never on a Sunday" which has remained a

favourite of mine ever since. Actually, considering all the circumstances,

we had quite a few good times during the trip and when you think it only

cost us 10 pounds each, it was a bargain compared to the normal cost of

ship's cruises.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, about another incident that occurred when

we were in Port Said. An Arab came on board and during a chat with him on

deck with my wife and kids nearby, he looked at my daughter Judith, then

about 4 years old, and asked me if I wanted to sell her. I thought he was

joking, and said I would want a thousand pounds (a colossal amount in

those days) when he said OK, I realized he wasn't joking, I told him to

forget it, grabbed Judith and we all hurried away to our cabin.






Hi Gerry,

Your bath times tales reminded me of the very first bath I had

when I was evacuated. I had been taken into a coal mining family who lived

in a small terraced house. The front door opened from the pavement,

straight into a small living room where we all had our meals and included a

large table and a big solid fuel stove that took up all the space along one

wall. When bath time came, to my surprise a large galvanized iron bath was

dragged into the living room, placed in front of the stove, filled with hot

water and I was told I could get into it. Which I did with much

embarrassment, because back home, at least we had our own bathroom and the

idea of ever being seen totally unclothed by another person was unheard of.

I hurried as fast as I could but before I could finish Olive, the daughter

of the house, then aged about 10 (I was about 13), came into the room and

sat down at the table, next to the bath I was in. I finished my bath, and

then realized that the towel I needed to cover my embarrassment, was out of

reach and it was obvious by then that Olive had decided to stay and see

what the London boy's were made of. I remained in the bath for quite

awhile, as the water got colder and colder, meanwhile, Olive just sat there

waiting for me to get out. Eventually, I realized I couldn't stay in the

bath forever, so I lunged for the towel and Olive got her peep. She must

have been suitably impressed by what she saw because she was always very

nice to me for the rest of the time I stayed with her family.

Have a nice day,





Hi Gerry,

It's interesting that Jimmy Edwards should come up for

discussion just now because only two weeks ago I was talking to someone

here in Perth, who told me that he knew Jimmy Edwards quite well when Jimmy

lived here in the nice sea side suburb of Cottesloe for a while. Did you

know that during the war, Jimmy was a RAF pilot and won a DFC for bravery.

I remember once seeing him at the Cambridge Theatre in the Strand and

remember being very impressed by a new young unknown comedian named Tony

Hancock who appeared in the show and who later became famous for his, "

Hancock's Half Hour " radio show. You may know that he later committed

suicide in Sydney, Australia while on a tour Down Under. A very sad day. I

think he was one of the best.

When someone mentioned the program, " Much binding in the Marsh" I was

very interested because I was stationed for a while at the RAF camp,

Moreton-in- the- Marsh, in Gloucester, which gave the show its name. Just

to digress for awhile. While I was stationed there, there was a severe

National coal shortage in Britain and while still on Christmas leave we

were told that we could stay on leave until the situation improved or

return to camp and survive as best as we could. That sounded quite exciting

so I went back to Camp and when the coal run out, we went into the nearby

woods to cut down trees to keep the stoves in the Nissen huts burning. Each

night we placed bricks on top of the stove and when they were really hot,

we wrapped them up in our PT shorts and used them as hot water bottles in

our beds. Actually, It was quite enjoyable. We also hinted to the few WAAFs

on the Camp that there were other ways to keep warm at night, but I don't

think any of us guys got that lucky. How pure we were in those days, well


Also, while at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, I broke the cardinal rule of service

life, which is, "never volunteer". I volunteered to do someone's duty so

that he could go off to play in a football match for the Camp against

another Camp. It was a big mistake. There was a Pilots Training School at

the Camp, and that night trainee pilots were taking off regularly in their

single - engined Harvard's. It was very noisy as each plane passed very low

over the hut we were in. Suddenly, the loud noise from one passing over

stopped and for a few seconds there was total silence and then a great

crashing sound as the plane fell out of the sky onto a hut. We all rushed

outside and an ambulance set off towards the crash site, which was one of

the huts where the WAAFs were billeted. Soon, the ambulance came back and

two stretchers were carried into the Station Sick Quarters. As they passed

me I saw each had a figure on it whose flying suit was covered in mud and

blood. I felt panicky and thought I would faint if I went into the theatre

but I was ordered to get in there quick smart and make myself useful. The

flying instructor was the most badly injured, his face was badly smashed,

and as they put him on the operating table, he kept saying, over and over,

"I'm not going to die am I, I'm not going to die am I." And then, as they

were cleaning him, up to access the damage, he suddenly vomited over all

of us. Well, they stitched him up as best they could and kept him over

night on the Camp. I was told to stay with him and tried to cheer him up

whenever he felt like talking. Glad to tell, he didn't die, and next day

he was transferred to RAF Halton where, unfortunately, he lost an eye. I

found out later that he was Air Vice Marshall Pendred's son.

To return to the original topic of radio, I also met Frankie Howard,

another great comedian, when he was on a Far Eastern tour and visited our

Camp at Mount Davis, on Hong Kong Island because he was at school with our


While on the subject of radio. In my house, when I was a kid, the radio was

turned on first thing in the morning and was turned off last thing at

night. When I met my wife Margaret, who previous readers of my

autobiographical comments will remember, was posher than me. I was

surprised to find out that her parents only turned the radio on to listen

to the news and then turned it off. Well if that's being posh, I think it's

daft. I heard all the news, all the music, popular and classical (remember, "Palm Court Orchestra" ? I do) and programs like " Twenty

Questions " The radio was my University. At one time, I only had to hear a

few notes of the latest song and I could whistle the rest without missing a

note. It's funny what posh people do.

Back in those days, I loved going to see Abbott & Costello movies.

Eventually, my sisters wouldn't go with me because I couldn't stop laughing

after everybody else in the cinema had long stopped. Another guy and

myself, would literally, be rolling in the aisle whenever we went to see

them. Oh happy days. Then later, do you remember Tommy Cooper? How lucky

we were to have seen and heard all these great entertainers.

If there's anyone whose read this lot, sorry about the length.

Take care everyone,






When I was a kid, living in the Elephant & Castle area,

before WWII started, I used to stand at the exit of the lifts on the Tube

and collect cigarette cards from the people coming out. Although that is

now more than sixty years ago, I can still remember feeling the rush of

warm air and the distinctive smell from the lift shaft as the lifts rose and

the loud clanging sound as the heavy double metal gates automatically

opened when the lift stopped and I would start my spiel, "got any fag

cards, Mister" Afterwards, there was the pleasure of sorting them out. I

loved the fantastic colours and designs of the dress uniforms of the

soldiers in the Regiments from all over the British Empire. Particularly

those from the Indian Regiments. If only I still had them, they would be

worth a packet now.

I can also remember other times when a man came round our street with a

horse-drawn cart which had a small merry-go round on the back that could

only take two or three kids at a time. You had to give him a jam jar to get

a ride. When he had a full load, he would wind a big wheel on the side if

the merry-go round and we would hang on as we went round in circles, the

girls screaming and the boys grinning from ear to ear. Then we would run off

to get another jam jar.

Another time a man would come round with a small board with holes in it

which was covered with silver paper. Some of the holes had a small piece of

paper in them and if you pushed a match stick into that hole you got a

prize, usually a sweet. To play the game you gave the man a jam jar or

some old rags. Those we weren't already wearing of course.

Later, when we lived at Morden, about once a year, two very large, heavily

bearded, Indian gentlemen, wearing colourful turbans and overcoats down to

the ground and carrying large battered cases, packed full of colourful

silk scarves and pretty looking trinkets, would knock on all the doors in

the street.




 My first experience of country life was when I was evacuated to a small

coal mining community outside Barnsley, in South Yorkshire. Nearly all the

men in the village worked, "down pit." Although the village was surrounded

by coal mines and their smoking slag heaps that looked like black

pyramids, there was still plenty of unspoiled countryside around us to be

explored. For most of us kids from London, this was our first opportunity

to experience, a way of life that we knew nothing about before then.

We explored around the old reservoir with the local boys, searching among

the tall, bull rushes for birds nests. If we found one with eggs in it, we

would only take one if there was more than one egg in the nest. The most

prized find was a swan's nest with eggs in it. We learned how to make a

hole at each end of the large white shell, so that we could blow the

contents out and keep the egg shells we found as trophies. I loved watching

the black moor hens, with bright red beaks, swimming away, as fast as they

could, as we approached them, before noisily taking off from the water

when we got too close. Their eggs were much smaller than the swan's eggs,

but they were very pretty; being a soft creamy- brown colour with lovely

dark brown markings sprinkled all over the shell. Thrush eggs were bright


We built a raft from planks of wood, and the thick stems of the bull rushes

that grew all around the water's edge, so that we could paddle across the

reservoir. Our best attempt at, ' ship building ' resulted in a very

unstable structure which was always threatening to fall apart. So, at first

we kept close to the shore while we gradually got used to the feeling that

every time we went out on the raft, it could, at any moment disintegrate

and throw us into the water. Even in Summer, the dark, deep, cold water of

the reservoir looked a bit sinister. So, as I could hardly swim at that

time, I had a good reason to be afraid. But, one day, I was on the raft,

when we paddled it from shore to shore across the widest part if the


Another day I was passing a farm yard where they were castrating piglets. I

watched as the farm workers, with great difficulty, first separated a huge,

gray, very angry sow from her brood and then selected which piglets were

to be operated on. The sow went berserk as the piglets first squealed in

fear as they were roughly grabbed and then squealed even louder with pain

and fear as the knife cut. The sow charged, head down, screaming with

rage, at the gate that shut her in the pen, the farm workers standing

nearby looked very alarmed when it looked as if the gate would burst open.

It didn't, but I was on the piglets side, so I was glad that the sow had

scared them.

There's much more to tell, but I'll save it for another time. Meanwhile,

what about some ," When I was a kid........." contributions from other

members, or if anyone has another topic they want to talk about let's hear

from you.

Until then, all the best from the West (Australia),






Hi Gang,

I remember as a kid we used a home remedy for chilblains which was

rather interesting. It consisted of placing a red hot poker into a

receptacle containing urine and then placing the foot with the chilblains

on it, into the pot of 'scalded' urine. It must have worked because it was

quite a common remedy.

Have a nice day,



Hi Patrick & Gang

Chilblains, that's another common ailment most of us suffered from way back

when..... Supposedly came from roasting our frozen toes in front of an

open fire! When we had something to burn that is! ;O}

Pleased to say, I have never heard of your remembered remedy before Patrick,

maybe we were a little more sophisticated on the south coast (big grin)!

We found that thick green ointment called 'Winter Green' or the homemade

variety, did the trick.

By the way I was just wading into a nice cuppa tea (without milk), when I

read your post. Somehow doesn't look so inviting now! LOL





Hi Gang,

We came to Western Australia (WA) in 1965 and have lived in

the river side suburb of Attadale, on the south side of the Swan River,

since May 1974. Our house is about 5 mins walking distance from the river

which is really a tidal estuary and not a river at this point. My wife,

Margaret, walks along the beautiful foreshore every morning, with our dog

Sally. The other day she came back very excited, and told me that she had

just seen three porpoises very close to the shore. Occasionally, someone

says they have seen a shark swimming in the river. Our house is only 10 to

15 min by car from the Indian Ocean.

Margaret loves seeing all the bird life down on the river and the along the

foreshore, there's lots of Black Swans, Sacred Ibis, Commorants and Oyster

Catchers and big Pelicans, which are her favourites. During the Northern

Hemisphere Winter months, a wide variety of migratory wading birds come

down from China, Russia and Siberia to nearby Alfred Cove, According to

an official wildlife habitat study, over 130 different species have been

recorded in the Alfred Cove area which is classified as an 'A ' class reserve.

Nearly every year, during nesting season, a pair of ducks land on our

swimming pool to see whether it's a suitable place for them to build their nest.

Because of Sally, they usually nest elsewhere. Last year it was on the pool

next door. So when the eggs hatched we looked over the fence and watched

the ducklings swimming on the pool.

Stoneham Road, where we live, runs uphill from Alfred Cove, on the east, to

the very impressive Spanish Colonial Style buildings of Santa Maria RC

Girl's school on the west. So I suppose you could say we have lots of birds

at both ends of our street. House prices in the road vary from AUS $400,000

to AUS $2.0 million. When we came to WA in 1965, most houses in WA were

single story (what we called bungalows in the UK ). Now, because the

price of land has risen so much, more and more 2 story and 3 story

houses are being built. The area has also attracted many Wealthy Asians who

always like to live near water (it's good feng shui) and usually build

very upmarket homes. One wealthy Chinese investor likes the area so much,

we heard that he had bought 26 houses in the area.

At most weekends, the surface of the river is covered by masses of sailing

boats, from the many sailing club around the river, all engaged in fierce

competition with each other. It's a very colourful and impressive sight.

Early each day, big Rottnest Ferry boats head downstream from Perth, on

their way to Rottnest Island, situated 11 Km off shore from Fremantle, in

the Indian Ocean. ' Rotto ', as the locals call it, is and has been for

generations of West Aussies, their idea of paradise.

By car, Attadale is about 10 mins to Fremantle and 20 mins to Perth.

Fremantle, a port, is a very ethnic place, with lots of ethnic

Restaurants and Coffee shops but also including, some real ,' Dinkum'

(kosher) Aussie style Pubs and some streets full of wonderfully preserved

19th century buildings, a 100 year old market and the building which was

the first synagogue built in WA. Several new hotels and lots of restoration

work was carried out in Fremantle, during the period when Western Australia

hosted the Americas cup challenge.

Perth, is the most isolated Capital City in the World, and although it

covers an area about the same size as London, it has a population of only

about 1.2 million people. Also, although, Western Australia, covers a land

mass about the same size as most of Western Europe, it has a population of

only about 1.8 million people. So, there's lots of space, but due to lack

or shortage of water, lots of the State, particularly in the North and

inland, is empty or very sparsely populated or stocked .

For example, last night, there was a farmer on TV from Meekathara, about

600 km north of Perth, who runs 6000 sheep on 146,000 hectares. He said he

mostly lived alone and flew a light aircraft to cover the huge distances

and used new satellite controlled technology to turn the supply of water on

or off at remote water holes to water his sheep.

Bye for now,





Before we were accepted as evacuees we had to be inspected

to make sure we were suitably attired.

Well, my mother was so hard up, all she could afford for me was a pair of

those black shiny shoes with a strap across arch of the foot, which were

worn by girls at that time. She bought them for me. We went up in front of

this guy who looked at what I was wearing and said, " He can't go, wearing

those. " my mother began to cry, and I hated that man with my whole being.

I said I wasn't going. Somehow the, "problem" was sorted out and I went. I

could have stayed and been killed for wearing the wrong shoes. I still hate

that guy for making mother cry.




About clogs. I was evacuated to a South Yorkshire mining community and

early every morning as I lay in bed I could hear the miners, wearing clogs,

walking down the hill of the village street to the lorry that took them to

the Pit. The clog uppers were made of stiff black leather and the soles of

wood on which was nailed a rim of steel. As they walked down the street, the

steel struck the cobble stones with a sharp metallic sound. I'll never

forget that time of my life.




I remember, quite well, Sunday Sept 3rd 1939 when the Prime Minister, Mr.

Chamberlain, announced on the radio that we were at war with Germany.

My mother, became very agitated, because my eldest sister had gone to

morning Mass and wasn't back yet. As soon as the announcement was finished

we heard for the first time the unfamiliar, ominous wail of the air raid

siren. My mother dashed into the living room and pulled the curtains

across the front window, although it was still morning. When the

siren stopped, all the church bells in the area started to ring out. We

looked up anxiously into the sky but there was nothing to be seen.

After all the excitement in the morning was over, nothing much happened

for the rest of the day as far as we kids were concerned. No doubt our

parents had lots to talk about, but we kids just carried on as before.

We weren't evacuated until later in the war, when the Germans started to

send their V2 rockets over. That meant that as the war warmed up, during

the day we could watch the dog fights high in the sky, above our heads,

between our fighters and the German planes. Later when the blitz started we

spent most nights in the Anderson shelter, dug in a shallow pit, in our

back garden.

There was plenty of dog fights to see during the battle of Britain period

because there was a Spitfire squadron based at nearby Croydon airfield and

the German bombers and fighters seemed to fly on a set flight path

directly over head on their way to bomb the City.

When the blitz started, bombs were dropped all around us every night and

the screaming sound of some of their bombs sounded very frightening. When

the bombs landed nearby, the shock wave travelled through the ground and we

felt the bunks we were sleeping on bounce up and down.

Sometimes we didn't hear anything as time bombs were dropped silently by

parachute with a fuse set to detonate hours later. Next day, when everybody

was off guard, the mine would explode. Some woman at a local shopping

centre were killed when one went off. Enemy bombers also dropped masses of

incendiary bombs as they flew overhead. Every house had a bucket of sand and

a stirrup pump at hand to put the fires out.

At night, standing outside in the streets we could look up and see the

searchlights, criss crossing the night sky searching for the bombers. When

one was caught in a beam, others focused in on the small white object high

up in the sky and the ant-aircraft guns gave it their full attention as

they tried to shoot it down. We had an ack-ack gun on a truck which moved

up and down our street blasting away all the time. Our windows rattled

loudly but the glass in them never cracked because we had stuck wide, brown

sticky tape in a criss cross on each window pane.

The next thing the Germans tried out was the V1 rocket which sped across

the sky making a distinctive noise until its engine stopped and in the

ensuing pregnant silence, everybody held their breathe waiting for the loud

explosion as it fell randomly to earth.

The authorities didn't evacuate us until the Germans started to send their

V2 rockets over. They were much bigger than the V1 rockets and harder to

shoot down.

I spent that last night in our Anderson shelter, before being evacuated,

feeling very nervous at the thought that after all that we had gone through

so far, it would only take one bomb to finish us off only a few hours

before the morning when we were due, at last, to be moved to safety. It

happened to some but we were lucky.




Updated 9/3/2000