RETRO: Derbyshire stories from World War II evacuees

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A Peak District-based author has released a series of Derbyshire stories from World War Two evacuees.

Gillian Mawson, of Whaley Bridge, has collected stories from 100 people who spent the war years as evacuees in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Doreen Moss, aged nine, was evacuated with her school.

Doreen Moss, aged nine, was evacuated with her school.

In her research Gillian came across some stories that relate to Derbyshire.

June Somekh was evacuated to Winster and recalls: “Miss Smith was somewhat older than my grandmother, but she was very kind and I grew to love her. However, the problem was a much larger lady who used to shout, ‘You licker newt, you kipper ’addock,’ at us.

“With hindsight I think she had Tourette’s Syndrome, but we were terrified and thought we were staying with witches!”

Dorothy Reynolds, aged 16, was evacuated to High Peak in June 1940. She told Gillian: “We went by train to Chapel-en-le Frith station, with one piece of luggage, lunch and a gas mask.

“We wore our winter uniforms and it was a very hot day.

“On arrival we were welcomed with tea and sandwiches in the Constitution Hall, then our heads and throats were inspected by nurses. Some girls were found billets in Chapel, whilst others went to Chinley.

“Here we saw the notice ‘Please will you come to the Women’s Institute at 6pm to offer these poor children homes?”

Mary and Vi Draper were sent from Lowestoft to Chesterfield and Mary recalls: “We had no mum, and our dad was in the Home Guard. Mr and Mrs Bacon took us into their home.

“They had no children and practically became our mum and dad until the day they died.

“The war really did us a favour because they were marvellous to us.”

The Nicholls family (grand parents, parents and children) fled Belgium to England in May 1940.

Most of the family settled in Hereford, but the grandparents, Ernest and Marie Louise Nicholls, stayed with relatives in Derbyshire because Ernest had been born there.

Marie Louise died in 1941 and was buried in Spital Cemetery - Gillian recently visited her grave to place flowers there.

The rest of the family, except for Ernest, returned to Belgium after the war.

Doreen Holden was evacuated from Manchester to Matlock. She told Gillian: “A nice couple took me in because my name was Doreen, the same as their little girl. They treated me very well, bought me dolls and made me jelly and custard because I hated rice pudding!”