Writer uncovers poem in honour of Disley WW2 evacuees

Guernsey evacuees arriving in Disley - with Rosalind Brelsford held by her mother at the front
Guernsey evacuees arriving in Disley - with Rosalind Brelsford held by her mother at the front

A Whaley Bridge writer has published a poignant poem written by Disley villagers at the end of the Second World War - in honour of the Guernsey evacuees they took in.

Gillian Mawson, 61, has included it in her book Rhymes and Remembrance - a collection of similar verses recounting the experiences of children and adults uprooted during the conflict.

The poem - called To The Channel Islanders - was read to evacuees as they boarded buses in the village to return home in August 1945.

Former admin worker Gillian - who has been interviewing and researching World War 2 evacuees since 2008 - was handed the poem by former Disley evacuee Rosalind Brelsford.

Rosalind was a baby when she arrived in the village with her father Mr H Brelsford - along with the other children from the Guernsey primary school where he was headmaster.

Mr Brelsford took the place of the village’s own headmaster - who had joined the war effort.

Gillian, who interviewed Rosalind along with four other Disley evacuees said they all remembered the families who took them were ‘really lovely’.

She said: “I’ve not spoken to anyone who went to Disley and wasn’t happy.

“It wasn’t too rural and not that different from Guernsey and they were all in school with their own headmaster and the families were lovely with them.

“The day they left it was a tearful farewell.”

Gillian told how villagers still hold a service at Disley Parish Church marking the day the island was liberated from Nazi Germany.

A copper milk churn from the islanders to the people of Disley sill adorns the church.

Gillian has interviewed over 600 evacuees since she gave up her job at the University of Manchester and took up writing full-time - which has ‘changed her life’.

She said: “I loved hearing people’s personal stories - it’s an honour that they trust you enough to tell you them.”

Rhymes and Remembrance: Poems written by Britain’s Second World War Evacuees and other books by Gillian are available by visiting amzn.to/2HlcWxs.