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The Evacuation to Canada of 50 girls from Roedean School to Edgehill School, Nova Scotia in 1940.

By Margaret Siriol Colley neé Lewis


Roedean School, Brighton






My diary describes the voyage to Canada when 50 girls from Roedean School, Brighton, England were evacuated, to Edgehill School, Windsor, Nova Scotia accompanied by two mistresses, Miss Briggs and Miss Marshall.


From 27th May to June 4th  1940 the British Army was evacuated from Dunkirk, and on the 14th June, Paris fell to the invading German forces.  Britain feared that she would be invaded next and so many children were evacuated in 1940 to countries of the British Empire and the United States.



The story of our evacuation carries on in part two has been composed mostly from the Edgehill School Magazine and finally in part three are the letters received by mother from me in Canada.   Further to this are photos of our idyllic time particularly in the summer of 1940 of time spent in Nova Scotia. As well on the site are a photo of the Roedean School contingent  at Edgehill together with postcard photos of Nova Scotia in 1940

Along with this story the letters, written by my mother, Mrs Eirian Lewis describing her experiences in war time Britain, should be read and compared.

A letter card to my brother, John Lewis is on this site with photos of the planes in the Royal Canadian Air Force . The date is uncertain, but possibly 1943.



This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we hear from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.” Neville Chamberlain September 3rd 1939.



These words I heard on the radio “that consequently this country is at war with Germany” is  permanently imprinted in my memory. I remember exactly where I was standing on that fateful day, September 3rd 1939 when I heard Chamberlain’s broadcast.  I was in my grandparent’s sitting room looking at the radiogram in the corner of the room. I had been confined to the house with Chicken Pox. My grandparents lived in the house Eryl, Barry, South Wales.  It was a strange looking house on the top of the hill, Porth y Castell.  From the back of the house was the most beautiful view in Barry. In the distance on a fine day the coast of Minehead and Western Super Mare could be see.  Before this was the wide expanse of the Bristol Channel where merchant ships ploughed their way to the docks of Barry and Cardiff.  In the foreground stretched the old harbour, Cold Knap and the beach of Barry Island. It is a magnificent vista.


The year before I remember my father entering the hall of our house in London and reading the newspaper with a feeling of great relief as optimistically we thought  that there would be no war.  Neville Chamberlain had come back from Berlin with the words of “Peace in our time”.  My good friends; this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time."


 But Chamberlains words rang false and during the first few weeks of the Second World War I was to travel to Brighton for my first term at the school Roedean. The school was situated high on the cliffs at Rottingdean in a most prominent position and commanded a glorious view of the Bristol Channel.  That term there was little or no enemy action and the war seemed phoney.  School went on as usual and I remember little of the following months. We had a very heavy snowstorm where the wind blew the stony into high billows across the high cliffs on to the playing fields. I remember too the excitement and pleasure when Winston Churchill was made Prime Minister in the spring of 1940.


 The Germany invasion into the low countries was rapid in 1940 and France surrendered to the Germans on June 22nd.  A heroic armada of small boats set out from the south English coast to rescue the men from the beaches of Dunkirk and Britain feared an offensive. Within a week my parents decided to send me to Canada with 50 girls from my school.  The rest of the school was evacuated to Keswick in the Lake District.  I have clear recollections of a train with soldiers returning from Dunkirk singing ‘Roll out the Barrel’ steaming into Brighton as my train went on its way towards London.  During the summer of 1940 I kept a diary of our evacuation to Nova Scotia.


 ‘Strictly Private.  No one may read this’


          Saturday 22nd June 1940

This morning I had a letter from Mummy. I was to go to Canada, to Edgehill, Nova Scotia with 50 other girls from Schoo1.  I didn’t know what to think about it.  The news came as a great surprise.  I knew that girls were going to Canada, but to think that I should be going was too much to believe.

In the afternoon Mummy came down to see the (Miss) Tanner (headmistress) about details of transport and schooling out there.  She decided that I should come home the next day by train.


Sunday 23rd June.

My last day at school.  I went to chapel for the last time. It was the longest chapel service I have ever attended.  Joe Hall read pages for the first reading and Canon Bell’s sermon would not stop.  I travelled up to London with, Helen Burch and her parents to my parents and then down to Wales to collect some of my belongings. Some of my belongings were in Porthcawl so I didn’t have time to collect them.  I regretted having to leave my Lacrosse stick behind.


             Monday 24th June

 I said goodbye to John and my grandparents and caught the train from Cardiff to Paddington. I could not believe I was going to Canada and was in a state of excitement.


            Tuesday 25th June

During the night I was woken by the sound of sirens and by Mummy and Daddy buzzing around me.  I put on a dressing gown and school cloak and took an eider-down to the shelter next door.   Daddy had taken the stepladder away and had not put it back, so we had to climb over the fence.  The sirens from different stations went on for about ten minutes, the searchlights were playing and the sound of an aeroplane could be heard in the sky.  We heard no gunfire and having tried to sleep we eventually went back to bed.

Later on we heard the deep shrill sound of the “All-clear.”


            Wednesday 26th June

Next Morning at a quarter past seven in the morning the taxi came and my baggage was tied outside.  At Euston Daddy saw that my baggage was labelled and put on the train.  Then at 9.30. I bade farewell to my parents not knowing when I should see them again  and the train steamed out of the station.

Jacqui, Renee, Pat and myself sat together in the train and at about 1.30. it steamed into the harbour at Liverpool.  We passed through immigration and gave up our ration cards and gas masks.  We boarded the ship, the Duchess of Atholl, and went to our third class steerage cabins.  We were put in cabins in alphabetical order, then we were changed to sleep with our friends.  I had a cabin with Jacqui, Renee, Monica, Benny, and Pat Hazzledine. We watched the baggage being loaded on to the ship.


            Thursday 27th June

At around 3 o’clock in the morning the ship left Liverpool.  All the morning land could be seen, and the ship was convoyed with another, bound for New York.  After supper it was rumoured that our destroyer had sunk a German U-boat.  I don’t know whether it was true, but there was some excitement going on.  There were aeroplanes flying about, and our destroyer signalled to both them and our ship in Morse.  Our ship and the aeroplanes signalled back with an instrument for making flashes! All this was done in code. Flags to the other ship were also used.


           Friday 28th June

We were woken up early for lifeboat drill about four o’clock I believe.  We had to put warm clothes on and carry our life belts around with us.  I went on deck and found the sea had become quite rough.  Going down to my cabin again I felt groggy, and could only dress before I felt I had to have fresh air.  I rushed up without my hair done.  By this time the destroyer had left us and the other ship convoyed with us lost on the sea.  That evening because the rest were ill in the cabin we tried to sleep on the ropes.  After a while we turned in to sleep on the chairs it the lounge


            Saturday 29th June

All the ship lurched and every now and then it gave a terrific one and the sound of tin milk cans that had fallen over could be heard.  But even with that sound and motion going on managed to get a few hours sleep.  Instead of having lifebelt drill for an hour we could sleep in our clothes so that The Briggs or The Marshall (our teachers accompanying us) did not come in - on top of that they were both seasick. … Going down to the cabin very cheerfully I was gently shoved out by Renee.  During the rough seas the water had come in and all suitcases etc. were floating around in the great flood

Nothing eventful happened until we went and skipped in the gym.  We tried to take photos of the marvellous upheaval of the helm (bows?) into the spray of the sea.  Going into the gym again we found some small children playing on the ribs.  The way the mothers looked after those children was disgraceful - they needed nannies themselves.


          Sunday 30th June

The sea is quite calm and most invalids are up.  I enjoyed my breakfast and went on deck.  At 10.45 there was a service in the first class dining room . . . We tried to tidy our cabin which was extremely small to hold 6.  By the lift we met a sweet little boy called Adam Reith with his mother.  He said he was 4 but really he was 2 ½.  When, we asked whether he had been had on a big boat before he answered yes. - it was a punt in Oxford.


          Monday 1st July
This morning after breakfast we played deck-quoits on the sun deck.  In the middle of the game some little boys ran away with the quoit! … In the evening we sat around the piano and sang, and listened to a Canadian girl playing the piano.  She was extremely good, and played all the favourite songs and some American ones.


           Tuesday 2nd July
It rained all the morning and I had to wrap up well before going on deck.  Later it cleared and we talked to some officers on the sun deck.  … In the evening just as we were turning in someone said there was an iceberg to be seen.  We scrambled on deck and although we did not see that identical iceberg we saw another one on the port side of the ship.  Great was my thrill to see the first iceberg in my life.


           Wednesday- 3rd July

We got up the see the Northern Lights, but are not sure whether we saw them or not.  Next morning we sighted land and saw a very big iceberg on the port side.  This one was covered with birds, but the berg was too far away to see if there were any penguins on it. … All day we saw land as we steamed and later we entered the mouth of the St Lawrence.  The banks of the river in most places were steep and covered with fir trees.  Every now and then waterfalls broke the dense expanse of wooded country and little wooden houses peeped out above the trees.  Later in the day cars and people could be seen moving about the roads and by the houses.

In some places the land was quite flat and little islands were dotted about in the water.  The course of the ship was marked by buoys and this was continuously being dredged for the mud.  The water in the river had become less and less, and in time it will not be useable for big ships.

In the evening in the corner of the third class lounge (a muster station) a sailor played his banjo and another played the spoons.  These two played all kinds of tunes while we Roedeans and Sherbournes sang and hummed the tunes.  At half-past eight we went to bed, only to be told we could get up and see the lights of Quebec.  That was just at sunset, and the colours on the water simply beautiful – reds, blue, orange, etc.- unfortunately we were sent to bed before we reached Quebec!


Thursday 4th July

We were woken up by The Briggs at 6.30 to see the Immigration Officers.  We waited a long time in the lounge, and while this was going on we missed the Quebec Bridge.  Luckily I looked out of the window while passing under it. … At about 6.30 in the evening we saw Montreal bridge.  The ship’s mast only just went underneath it, and while looking up a large blob of water fell in my eye!  Just after the bridge were the docks and we docked next door to the Duchess of York.

We watched the deckhands throw over the lines and then looked over the edge.  I climbed up a ladder and put my hat (straw one) handbag and tin of sweets in a puddle.  I hurriedly came down again!  Then we went on the Captain’s bridge.  After that we collected our baggage and went on the promenade deck.  Here reporters started infesting us.


The party was divided into two - one going to Trafalgar (I went with that one) and the other one to) Elmwood.. It was Independence Day in USA.


Six days later the Battle of Britain began.  On 10th October 1942 the Duchess of Atholl was sunk by a German U-boat off Cape Town.

Friday 5th.

I spent the night at Trafalgar and then we were taken by car to Elmwood where we had a delicious lunch. I had three helpings of strawberries.  50 of us went by bus to Montreal station where again we were met by a lot of photographers, before we boarded the train. I was photographed on the engine of the train. The scenery from the train was quite different from anything  I have seen before.


Saturday 6th

We woken at 4.30 in our bunks as we had to catch the ferry boat across the Bay of Fundy. … At Digby we disembarked and caught the train to Windsor.  I spent most of the time in the observation car.  I was fourth in the relay for lunch and by then the train had run out of strawberries, but more were procured.

We arrived at Windsor about three. There more photos were taken.  Some say that nearly all the town was out to see us.


Sunday 7th

I had my first night at Edgehill.  We went to church and everyone seemed to stare at us – the girls from the battlefield fortress of England.  The service was very difficult to follow because it was communion and different from ours.  The sermon was very patriotic and both King George and God were put on the same footing. It was odd to sing ‘God Save the King’ in the middle.

In the afternoon Judge Sangster drove us across the bridge in the direction of Hartsport where we saw a pulp mill and bales of pulp waiting to be shipped or loaded into a freight car. ‘Uncle’ as Judge Sangster wished to be called, took to us to see a doctor friend where at the bottom of his garden was the river Avon. A tidal river the difference between high and low tide being 70 feet.

Then came the great thrill.  We went to see an Indian Reservation.  The government had built houses for the “Red Indians” who lived a feeble existence on Government money.  One, a John Knockwoot put on his wardress for our benefit complete with a headdress of feathers.  I asked him to speak some ‘Indian’ and he said “Au Revoir”


Monday 8th

We spent the morning at Egdehill and then went into the town.  One of our party asked what the sign to the museum was and then we were very kindly taken to the place itself.  It is a called Clifton belonged to Judge Haliburton, a writer if I am not mistaken

(Haliburton was well-known in the nineteenth century for his comic writings, which first appeared in book form in The Clockmaker; or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville of 1836 where the expression ‘Mad as a Hatter’ may have emanated.)


Tuesday 9th

In the after we went for a picnic. We climbed a hill and gathered wild strawberries. Here we seem to eat nothing but strawberries. 


Wednesday 10th

In the evening we had been asked by the manager to go and see ‘Abraham Lincoln in Illinois’.  We saw the film.  The trains in the film had not changed much from the train we travelled in to Windsor. (Known as the Blueberry Express they were so slow that it was said it was possible to get out and pick blueberries?)


Thursday 11th

This afternoon, Mr Stephens, the churchwarden organised an expedition to Grand Pre to see Evangeline.1  We saw the well, the church and Evangeline herself, a statue with large feet out of all proportion to the figure.  The little ornamental pond had water lilies of all kinds and colours growing in it and little blue dragonflies flitted over the water.  We went to Kentville where we had a polar ice and an ‘Oh Henry’, which was peanuts in toffee covered with chocolate.


Friday 12th

Nothing much happened today except that we heard we were going the next day.


Saturday 13th

Having packed our luggage, Jacquie, Renee, Pat and myself carried our luggage outside and packed it into the cars of Mr Hunt, the minister and Miss Roeckling. (the headmistress)  Miss Roeckling in the lead, drove us out of Edgehill.  We did not drive far on pavement, but soon turned on to a washboard road, so-called because of the ridges made by the cars.  The scenery was extremely pretty.  There were quite a number of natural rock gardens, much better than the Chelsea Flower Show.  The trees were mostly fir trees and we drove through a forest without seeing any sign of human habitation.  The only bit of life I saw was a deer, a lovely red creature standing upright against, a tree watching us pass. The journey was only 36 miles, but seemed much longer because of the very hilly and winding road..  We stopped for lunch and again had strawberries and cream

We arrived at Dr and Mrs Woodroofe (in Chester) at about half past two.  They live in a dear little Dutch house quite near to the sea.  We were taken round the shores and saw the water at high tide.


Sunday 14th

We breakfasted at half past nine having gone to bed at twenty to one, day light time. At Windsor they have daylight time and at Chester standard.  We have changed our watches about eight times since we left England.

We watched Jacquie and Renee play tennis and in the afternoon eleven us went out in a motor boat and a rowing boat to Birch Island.  There we bathed in the clear water.  One of the boys showed us a sea gulls nest with a baby bird in it. Then we sat down in a bed of masses of strawberries and picked them by the handful.  They were simply delicious.  Then we went back.  This time I was in the rowing boat being towed. The water was slightly choppy and the water came in every now and then.  We passed through a shoal of jellyfish.  I have never seen so many in my life.


The summer continued, idyllic in every sense. The Canadian’s showered us with invitations.  I stayed at first with Dr and Mrs Woodroofe with  Patricia Hollis.  Each day we seem to play anything up to five sets of tennis with Renee and Jacquie who stay across the road with the dentist and his wife, Dr and Mrs Croft. We appeared from my diary to be continually making sandwiches either for picnics, the yacht club teas or perhaps a local fete. I described a picnic on the beach at Hubbard’s where the sands on the beach were white and silvery. After the picnic “I went in for a “glorious bathe. The best I have had this year. It was quite cold getting in, but once in it was lovely.  I could have stayed in forever almost.  We swam out to a raft with a diving board on it The water was beautifully clear, and we could see the bottom of the sea, but it was impossible to dive from it as the waves were rocking the raft up and down.”


But to continue the diary  -Wednesday 17th


We went by motorboat towing a rowboat to Birch Island. We anchored outside Birch Island and were rowed to the shore. Settling down on a chosen spot we gathered wood for the fire. Then we piled up stones from the beach both to sit on and for the fire.  Phil (a local boy) brought the rowboat out and I tried to row. The attempt was not too successful.  After coming out we found the ‘weenies’ (Vienna sausage) were frying and nearly ready.  They were good and after that came the clams.  I had quite a few of them. At dusk we lit the bonfire and sat round it and talked and sang a bit and told stories. I was teased a lot about the number of clams I ate.


The days went by with numerous games of tennis each day, swimming off the wharf, many invitations, and visits to Lunenburg, Bridgewater, Fox Cove and Deep Cove.  “A kind of fiord with very steep side and fir trees growing on the banks.  The water was a beautiful deep green and reflected from the trees.


Friday 26th

We decided to go to Marriott’s Cove. We packed sandwiches and pat concocted a butterfly net.  Just before we started, Colonel and Mrs Laurie with their married daughter called.  They are very talkative and I should think a very merry family. Mrs Laurie’s eyelids flapped all the time and the married daughter lisped and stuttered a bit.  Colonel Laurie’s voice was very deep and Mrs Laurie2 and her daughter had – high-pitched voices. (Mrs Laurie is English and lived in Blackheath for a time before coming out here.)


Saturday 27th

We went to the Yacht Club for tea.  We have been given many privileges of the Yacht Club. I don’t know who is the kind person in authority there.   We were introduced to lots of new people, but I hardly caught anyone’s name.  Many of the people there were Americans spending their summer vacation in the North.    One old man whose name seemed to have appeared on Dollar notes told us of the ignorance of Americans.  He said quite lately they heard of some who arrived with skis thinking that Nova Scotia was cold in summer!  I much prefer the Canadians to the Americans.


Wednesday 31st 

Mr Kaseby took us for a sail in his boat in Chester basin. (It was reckoned that there were 365 islands in the bay.)  Although there was no breeze in the bay, out among the islands there was quite a wind.  We took it in turns to sit on the bow and the waves which broke by the boat, splashed over us.  That was a lovely sensation. After supper we went to a Canadian Legion garden party and I had clam chowder for the first time.

That evening Dorothy (Dora) and [Fabian Pease] arrived about 11.30 having just come over from England.3



       Fabian and Dora



Thursday 1st 

The whole family were woken at 5.30 by the children singing and talking. In the evening Pat and I put the children to bed. I looked after Fabian, gave him a bath and put him to bed in his cot.  Then I read from Mr Toolledoo to them and then told them a story.


Friday 2nd

Friday is the day of the Red Cross Garden Party.  In the morning we decorated the Red Cross stall with red, white and blue paper and posted flags everywhere and it looked quite nice till the wind sprung up and blew the flags out of place. The whole garden part collected about 1000 dollars.


Sunday 4th

26 years ago war was declared in 1914. It is dreadful to think we in the midst of another World War.

Instead of going to church I looked after the children. … Later their sister, Chenda came round with a Japanese doll for Dora and a book and a wheelbarrow for Fabian.  In the afternoon we went out on the motor yacht ‘Oh Yeah’ with Mrs Wortz and the ‘girls’. The girls were all over 50 years of age.  We went round the island and came back in time for tea at Mrs Chenalls.  Dora and Fabian were there.


Tuesday 6th

In the morning we finished the doll for the church sale which was to take place in the afternoon.  As the tide was high the children, Mrs Woodroofe, the children, Pat and I went swimming off Miller’s wharf.  There were quite a lot of jellyfish in too.


Wednesday 7th

Mrs Bell came for the children to go to tea with her. Pat stayed behind but I went.   Mrs Bell has a lovely house looking over the back harbour. At the bottom of her garden is the water where she has a wharf.  To get there one has to go through small wood.  The children had brought there sailing small boats and lost them many a time in the water.

Drumnaha. The home of Dr and Mrs. Winthrop Bell

Thursday 8th

Yesterday I visited Halifax for the first time. Mrs Bell took Pat and myself.  Mrs Bell had to see the American Consul and as it was 2 o’clock by standard time by our time we had to hurry. Later we went to see the Citadel and Bedford Basin where there some oil tankers waiting.  Mrs Bell asked a streetcar driver where the jail was and a soldier was very amused.


Friday 9th

Miss Doughie, the ‘girls, Mrs Woodroofe, the children and myself went to Oak Island. We went by motorboat and disembarked at the wharf.  We went to see the excavations.  (Oak Island was famous and still is, as a site  for buried treasure.  Numerous excavations have been carried out with the hope of finding the treasure. Some theories suggest that it could be Pirate plunder, Spanish gold or the lost fortunes of the holy warriors, the Templar Knights.  I was told it might be Captain Kidds’s hoard.)


Sunday 11th

This morning I started my letter home, but had to discontinue on account of the sandwiches we had to make for the picnic in the afternoon.   At about 1.15 we congregated at the Government wharf.  About 30 of us got on the motorboat while the rest got in a smaller one. We went to Winters Island near Mrs Finney’s Hat. Some of us bathed in the little sheltered bay diving off the motorboat.  Then we played or tried to play softball.  It was dreadful as I was the first girl to go in and I had neither held a softball bat or stick before in my life.    Then we trailed down the beach to have the salad supper and sandwiches.   We sat round the fire and toasted marshmallows before we went home. En route I saw about 5 shooting stars.


Monday 12th

Mrs Bell came this morning and asked Pat and I to go on a picnic.  Later when she arrived she asked the children to go too.  We went in to cars first to Deep Cove and stopped for a while picking wild raspberries and seeing a blue coloured kingfisher.  We drove on to New Harbour and Mr Mcmann, Pat and myself went round to the point to the lighthouse which was being repainted.  We threw stones into the water that was beautifully clear and a lovely blue out to the sea though the sun was slightly hidden by a haze.  We drove home through Hubbards.  The scenery was beautiful and we stopped at one point to see a tuna fishing boat trailing some rowing boats towards some fishnets.


The days went by with many games of tennis and with swimming often of Millers wharf or that of the Yacht Club.  We were regularly invited out by kind Canadians to tea, to sail in their yachts, to tea or to drive in their cars when going to places of interest.  We were fortunate to meet the Wimbledon tennis champion, Dorothy Round, Mrs Little.  We often went to the cinema.  One film was about Albert Ball, an air hero of the Great War Air, who shot down 43 German planes.  [Some years later we were to live in a house owned by his father in Nottingham.]


Wednesday 21

Today we went to Halifax with Mrs Bell. We had to take Bubbles, her Airedale.  Pat had an appointment to with Prof. Bennett  about her next term at Dalhousie College.  Later we went to the Stanleys. And had tea there.  Pat is to stay there during her term at Dalhousie. We drove round the Citadel and saw some quite large ships in the harbour including a destroyer.


Saturday 24th

Phil asked if Pat and I could go out in the motorboat for an hour.  We arrived at Bingham’s wharf and in a few minutes the boat arrived.  Phil seemed prepared to out tuna fishing hoping he would catch nothing.  In the middle of the expedition the motor broke down and I went in for a dip. After supper I went canoeing in the back and front harbour.  The phosphorescence was superb and the paddle made a path of fire in the water.  I never knew that phosphorescence could be as strange as that.


Monday 26th

I had a super day today.  In the morning we played tennis.  After lunch Mrs Bell called and presented me with a lovely invitation.  She is going to adopt me and pay for my fees.  I now not only feel dependent, but my parents will be pleased.  After going to the Flicks in the evening there was a phone call from Halifax from Mrs Balders asking me to stay a week there.


Tuesday 27th

 I got up at 6.30 to pack my belongings so that I could play tennis before breakfast.  I telephoned Mrs Balders and said “I would love to come”.  At half past two Renee and Jacq  drove up from Crescent Beach at and arrived a the same time as Mrs Balders. The Balders had a chauffeur who had been a cowboy on the Prince of Wales Ranch. We boarded our luggage on the cars and then ourselves.  We had a picnic on the road halfway back.  After we had deposited our luggage we changed for tennis and then we changed again for dinner.



Boulderwood , North West Arm,  Halifax




Wednesday 28th

After dinner we went out in the canoe and then bathed of the wharf in the (North West Arm).  In the evening Mrs Balders had a cocktail party. We played tennis till the guests had arrived and then went up and changed.  One of the guests, a Commander Layton knew my father and had an explosion in the Labs with him.  Another Admiral Bonham-Carter was President of the College for a time.  (Royal Naval College, Greenwich).


Thursday 29th

As Renee was stuck in a book I went off gaily for a canoe ride till I found that I could not get round further abreast with the wind.  I once turned round was on my way back when the wind swivelled me round.  The only thing for me was to tie the canoe up and get the Major to help me get it back.

The next few days continued at Mrs Balders with frequent games of tennis, swimming and diving in the water and canoeing in the North West Arm.


Sunday 1st September.

On this day a year ago War was declared at 11 o’clock by Mr Chamberlain on Germany. During that time the world has completely changed and many countries France, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway have been annihilated.  The only country to stand on it own was Finland.  Now after a year of war we stand with our backs to the wall resisting air attack after air attack left with no ally and only the British Empire to back us up.  The colonies and Dominions have been marvellous sending over men and machinery for a cause, which is theirs, seems thousands of miles away.  It seems dreadful that these kind people should suffer too although they have to put up with a thousandth less than every single person in England.

Now the adventure of coming here is over, I turn and think whether I should enjoy an air-raid or two.  I don’t think I would, as it is only fair to others to do is to shelter and in that way there would be no excitement in it.

 In the afternoon we went on the Seaborne. We walked in the sultry hot weather to the ferry and went across the Arm (North West Arm) that way.  On the other side the staff car was waiting for us driven by a naval rating. Collecting Mrs Leighton on the way we drove right to the gangway beside the Seaborne.  We had tea on the stern on board ship in the open.  Except that the cakes were stale and the dust and the smells of the dockyard blew about and by the time we left we were almost black with grime, we enjoyed ourselves.


Monday 2nd

This morning I got up at 7.30 daylight time with Renee in order that we should get to Chester by 9 o’clock.  When I arrived there I found a letter from Mrs Bell asking me to go and stay with her till the end of the holidays.  I did not go immediately as to day we were going to visit Phil’s camp.


Wednesday 4th

This morning I played tennis with Pat.  At a quarter to twelve Mrs Bell came over and fetched Pat and myself and we then drove over to the Woodroofes where we dropped Pat and I picked up my luggage. In the afternoon I unpacked and then went to see Chenda’s bic. and pumped the tyres up so that I could drive down to see Pat.  I helped Pat put the children to be and read to them.  Of course Fabian never listens but he misses the reading.


Wednesday 6th

We went to New Ross with Mrs Bell who had business with some branches of the Red Cross.  It is surprising the number of garments and socks that people living in the small houses in such a small district could produce.  Pat came too and so did Bubbles. Mrs Bell took us to see the views.  The view I liked immensely was the one at the New Ross crossroads looking down on to a lake with its feeders running thorough some verdant fields.  The view reminded me of the Avon or perhaps the source of the Thames and it made me feel quite homesick.


Monday 9th

I cycled down to the Woodroofes.  Miss Fowkes asked us to go sailing. It was a marvellous sail. Usually I don’t like it but this time it was really worth it.  The wind changed its direction many times and after a while the sea came quite rough  - sometimes the waves would rise 40 feet high.  We did not arrive at our destination because a squall blew up a round Mrs Finney’s Hat.


Friday 13th

This morning I went fishing for the first time in my life and really enjoyed myself although I got pretty cold, partly because I went bathing first. I sat in the little rowing boat behind the motor boat and started well by catching a perch. But next I caught five codfish. One after the other, but poor Philip did nothing but put them on the boat. The next day I caught quite a variety and more than anyone. I started with a small codfish, then to scalpins, a skate , 2 flat fish and a conger eel which was a nasty looking object.  In the afternoon I went on a picnic to Winter’s Island where I bathed again and picked mushrooms.


Monday 16th

Back to school.  How dreadful!  We went back in the foulest of weather of weather to Edgehill.  It was supposed to be a tornado. I found I was over at the K.C.S. building (King’s College School) and sharing a room with Averil and Betty.




Kings College Annexe


  Continued on part two.

1 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882), the well known American poet upon hearing of the story of the Expulsion of the Acadians wrote an epic tragic poem called Evangeline in 1847, immortalizing the event.

2 Pat (Patricia Hollis) stayed at the house called Oakfield.  It was owned by Colonel Laurie whose distant grandfather had been aide-de-camp to the Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father,  Colonel Laurie and his Oakfield estate were fascinating.  He was one of the finest men I have even met.  Oakfield had its own station – the railway from Halifax to Montreal and we could flag train to stop if we wished to catch it. Colonel Laurie had a big black Buick car and as we went over the line in it he would say ‘one look and we are over’. Before the family had the house fire it was full of  precious family possessions and the whole experience was a step back in time to be there. Each morning we all, including the staff, gathered for round the breakfast table for morning prayers and bible reading.  ’  I believe Colonel Laurie’s father had been Member of Parliament for Pembrokeshire)

         Once by the lake, he told the story of an eagle flying away with a baby - relative. if you can believe it!  I remember he and his wife discussing how they would be buried in the grounds of the family church, and how the rock would have to be blasted away.  The estate is now called Laurie Park


3 Dora and Fabian were the youngest children of the Michael and Helen Pease and aged about  3 or 4 and 5 or 6 respectively years.  They were a Quaker family and the Edward Pease, the children’s grandfather, had been a founder member of the Fabian Society.  They had come with Richenda, their sister. Richenda stayed with Mrs Winthrop Bell.  Michael Pease and Winthrop Bell knew each other from their enforced stay at the German internment camp, Ruhleben where academics who had studying in Germany were interned in the First World War. Their maternal grandfather was Josiah Wedgewood VI. Richenda married Andrew F. Huxley (The Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine in 1963.)