I originally grew up in Uxbridge Avenue, Willesden before being evacuated to Brinklow in Warwickshire when I was 7. I was born in 1932 and lived in a two-up and two-down tenement with my parents and my brothers and sisters, all older than me.
My parents had a double bed in the sitting room, covered by a curtain during the day and we slept – ‘tops and tails’, all in one bed upstairs. The girls had the top of the bed and the boys slept at the bottom. There was a communal bath in the kitchen. I grew up very street wise. My mother always had time to give me a cuddle and the whole community cared for all the children. We all played in the street outside our houses while the women would be sitting outside their front doors.
The last memory of my mum
My older brothers and sisters were, I think, evacuated to Merthyr Tydfil. Me and my two sisters, Betty and Maggie, who were about 9 or 10 at the time, travelled with me to Brinklow. My friend, Henry Franklin, 2 years older than me, was evacuated with me, and stayed with a family called Pinfold in Brinklow.
It began early on Saturday morning. My mother got my sisters and me out of bed, and then we had a breakfast of bread and jam. We were then taken to our school and from there we had to walk down to Willesden Junction. We did not know what was going on, to us it was a big adventure.
At about 10 am the train came in, on we got, Mum gave us all a kiss. My last memory of my mother is of her telling my two sisters to “keep an eye on Fred”. For most of us it was the first time we had ever been on a train. We had a packet of food which had to last all day. Eventually we arrived at Rugby. After getting off the train we were put into lines and walked to Rugby Cattle Market, where we boarded a Midland Red bus which took us onto Brinklow School. There we were met by the women of the village and given tea and cakes.
A new life in Brinklow
From then on it was a nightmare as my sisters did not want to be parted from me and that meant someone would have to take in all three of us. One lady, Mrs Moloney, said she and her next door neighbour would have us between them, the neighbour having my sisters. I will always remember the look on her husband’s face when he saw her coming down the road with the three of us.
I can remember going into the house, the name of which was Harmony Farm. I had never seen so big a house, only in books. My sisters could not settle down, so after about 12 weeks they went back to London and left me in Brinklow. I never heard from any of my family after my sisters left.
When the war was over I was asked what I would like to do – stop with the Moloney family or go back to London. I decided to stay. I was adopted and became their son, Fred Moloney.
They were hard days but good ones and I shall always be indebted to my Mum and Dad – Mr and Mrs Moloney for all their kindness over the years.
Originally published on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website as the article A Wartime Evacuee. This article has been reproduced with permission of the BBC, and Warwickshire Libraries.