Vernon Bell's Story

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Some 4 years ago I started to research my family history and have made

good progress with the project, despite only having very limited

information on even my Grandparents.

I have pushed some lines back into the 17th century without the benefit

of a famous or infamous ancestor to kick things on.

Progress has been slower than perhaps others might achieve due partly

to living in New Zealand, which is just as distant one can get from

England the land of my birth. Another thing that slows me down is the

time I take out from pure genealogical research to smell the flowers

along the way.

The flowers being the social conditions and the historic happenings

they lived through.

I am now up to my ears in the French Wars as I believe that an

ancestor (a Thames waterman) was pressed as may of them were into the

Navy. He served on the Swiftsure as a Quarter Gunner at the Battle of


I can hear you all muttering," what is this to do with evacuees "?

Well, here I am trying to make sense of what my ancestors were doing

200 years ago, when it dawned on me that my descendants in a 100 years

time would , if interested, be doing the same thing about me.

So an autobiography is now in hand, and I hope to get it done in outline

at least

before, as we say in NZ I have too many "senior moments" a polite way of

saying the onset of gaga is nigh.


I started by listing all the places I can recall living in and the

next place after home town Leyton was Harlow.

The computer memory may be smart, but the human mind once focused on a

problem is hard to beat.

It may be selective on times, but it was easy for me to go back to

September 1939 when at the age of six & a bit I was among the first wave

to leave East London as an evacuee to Harlow, which is just down the

road from Leyton. I must admit that other than a mind picture of two

elderly (to me at the time) ladies looking after me not much remains

of that exercise.

I returned to London I suspect after a short stay in Harlow but found

myself on the move again as the London Blitz started this time to the

small village of Bradninch near Exeter, Devon.

The memory of the journey to Bradninch as long faded away but in super

sharp focus is a group of us outside a church, clutching our cardboard

gas mask box and personal possessions in a case not much bigger.

The assembled villagers eyed us up like calves on market day, made

their selection and departed.

I became aware that I was the only on left and no takers !

I learned later that I was saved by the insistence of my host family's

three children that the parents should go along to see the most exciting

thing to happen in the village since the Coronation Party.

There was no way could this family take another child into their three

room farm cottage their children was told, and being as poor as the

proverbial church mice to boot.

They turned up just as I dissolved into tears at my rejection by the


"We had better take this 'un home with us" they said.


Vernon Alec Bell


New Zealand


Updated 6/20/03