Evacuated from Birmingham to Stratford

My wedding photo with George
Image courtesy of Irene Mead

When I was 13 years old, the Second World War began and I was evacuated. From Birmingham St Andrews, I was sent to Stratford upon Avon on Friday – two days before the war began.

I had two brothers, who were 11 and 9, they were also evacuated to Stratford however, we were split up. The first night I cried and missed them so much, but as fate would have it, they were staying in the house next door! After then we met every day and didn’t want to go to bed.

Separated from my brother

At the station, the families chose the children they’d take home. Therefore at 10pm I was separated from my brother and went home to a very lovely couple who had no children. As they didn’t have any children, they had no idea what to do with me! My mother stayed behind in Birmingham and had to identify relatives who’d died by bombs. Three of my cousins died due to a bomb explosion.

During the war, when I was 14 I started working in the printing trade. I stayed there for four years and worked in the lithographic transfers department. Through the job, I met my husband George! I worked with his sister who as a coincidence was also called Irene, she introduced me to George and aged 19 I wedded him- and we’ve been married ever since!

Keep a sense of humour

The one thing I learnt from the war is that it’s very important to keep a sense of humour as you never knew what you’d be dealing with next!

This story was created as part of an intergenerational digital inclusion project, in conjunction with Orbit Heart of England, with the assistance of students from Stratford Girls’ Grammar School.

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