The war started 70 years ago to day and millions of children were evacuated to the countryside, right? Well it depends on exactly what you would call country side. This little story doesn't concern me, I wasn't evacuated not because my parents didn't think I wasn't precious enough to be evacuated but because I didn't turn up until 1943 and by then the bombing was over. The family actually went to Blackpool, my father was a teacher, a reserved occupation, and my brother who is 18 months older than me was born in Blackpool but my parents and elder brothers and sisters had returned to Manchester by the time I was born.
This story was told to me in 1965 by a taxi driver called Jim. He was 11 when the war started and went to school at St Gregory's High School in Ardwick Green in the centre of Manchester but lived in Timperly which is 8 miles south of Manchester. His friend Tony lived next door and went to the same school. As it became apparent that war was about to start any day the children had been given a letter to take home explaining that children would be evacuated to places of safety. Tony's parents decided that it would be a good idea if their son and heir moved away for the duration, Jim's parents decided that Timperly was far enough away from Trafford Park, the industrial centre of Manchester and Salford docks to be safe. So Tony turned up at school with his suitcase not knowing where he would end up and when he would see his friend Jim again, or even if.
Jim stayed at school till lunch time and was sent home with a letter urging his parents to think again. When Jim got off the bus and walked down his leafy suburban street he noticed a couple of buses parked at the other end of the street with crowds of children carrying suitcase standing around. When he got home his mother explained that they had been asked to take in evacuated children who were fleeing the expected bombing of Manchester. Just then there was a knock at the door and standing there was a teacher from his school who was helping find homes for the evacuated children. Standing next to him with his suit case was Tony. He had been evacuated next door.
Tony just went home and neither of them were evacuated and no bombs fell within two miles of their houses. Jim used to delight in telling the tale but Tony always denied it was true.