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Memories written by Wynne Malpass presented by Margaret Craddock
Wynne Malpass Evacuation


I cannot recall the exact date we arrived in Burton Latimer - late 1939 - early 1940.

My sister Betty, younger than me by two years, and I left Leytonstone as part of the evacuation of about twenty-four girls from “The Pastures”, an orphanage run by nuns.  I learned later that the Mother House was in Clewer near Windsor.

Our new home was in Burton Latimer Hall.  I remember meeting the owner who was very surprised that we all fitted comfortably into her home.  A large room on the ground floor was used as the chapel.

My best memory is of the garden; it was a delight.  We played under the enormous horse chestnut tree making “little gardens”.  On summer evenings some of us collected snails in the low box hedges in the formal garden.  One fine summer evening we gave a performance of a simple play “Gardeners of the King”.  I do not remember the audience.

We attended the village schools.  My sister was an infant - I believe her school is now a private home.  I was across the road, this makes believe I was about seven year’s old.  My teacher was Miss Vickers and the headmaster was Mr Dunn.  I was mesmerised by his rimless glasses as I had never seen anyone wearing something so smart.  I thought he must be very rich.  There were other evacuees in the school, but they were living in the village.  Their teacher was Mr Ayling.  We did not join in village life at all except to attend church.  We walked to school and church in a “crocodile”.

Sister Elizabeth Helen had a budgerigar “ Joey”.  It used to sit on her head even in chapel.  At meal times he said grace with us.  When he died we buried him in a cardboard box under the horse chestnut tree.  We tried to dig him up when we were leaving the Hall but there was nothing in the ground . . . (Had he gone to heaven?)

Sister Dorothy, in charge of the kitchen, one morning came into the refectory at breakfast time after the first chapel service of the day (there were seven services every day).  She let fall from her sleeves windfall apples on to the tables.  She had them under the wide sleeves all through the service and as a consequence of this generosity she was stung by wasps many times.

War seemed very far way, but my sister remembers seeing soldiers fishing for snakes in the large pond.  (Were they from Kempston?)  One day a low-flying aeroplane flew over us in the garden - it was trailing long strips of silver foil - still a mystery to me.

Once again we were on the move.  The war was still raging but we left Burton Latimer and went to live in Bedford.

But that is another story . . .

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