After the outbreak of World War Two, as recently declared by our Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the children were evacuated up to Hitchin on Tuesday. With their gas masks and name labels at the ready, they waved goodbye to their life in Potters Bar to be transported to a safer environment at the British Schools Museum. Here is a recount of our trip, written by Annabel and Anthony.
At the British Schools Museum in Hitchin, we learnt and had an experience as an evacuee. To start the day, we walked into a cold hall where a woman named Rosalyn greeted us and told us what we would be experiencing. First, we had to line up in different categories: one girls, one for boys. We had a new host and she was going to be our teacher for the bit of time we had with her. She stated, “Ladies first”, so of course my line went into the classroom. We each sat down at a desk. On the desk was a place to rest your pencil/ink pen and there was also an ink well where you would dip your ink pen. When talking to the teacher, you had to call her ‘Miss’.
Firstly in the lesson, we had scratchy ink pens which we had to use to write a postcard to let our mums know we had arrived safely. Well, we were basically copying, for the Miss told us what we should write. After writing, we had to blot it dry. Next, we did maths. Because of a shortage of paper in the war, we did it on a brown paper bag. Maths was again different because there were pounds (£), shillings (s) and pence (d). 12 pence would make a shilling and 20 shillings would make a pound. After maths, we looked at planes. We looked at the British planes – Spitfires – and the German planes – Focke-Wulf – and how if there was a red and blue circle on its wing it was a British plane, but if it had a cross it was German plane. Later, we tried on the gas masks and it smelt like rubber. Finally, we were transported back to 2018 and left the classroom to do another activity.
Once we had left the classroom, we came to look at WW2 items like the gas rattle or bullet cartridges. In the hall, two old people sat (their names were Douglas and Angela) who were children during the war. They told us that as kids they had to collect conkers and rose hips to help the war effort, because in those time, everyone had to help win the war. The conkers were made into gunpowder and the rose hips for vitamin C because there was a shortage of fruit (because these had to be shipped to England, and the Germans torpedoed the ships).
Finally, we were taken down into the air raid shelter – which was freezing cold – and were taught about how children entertained themselves if they had to be down there for hours.
Thank you for the hard work that went into the children’s costumes – they looked sensational! Thanks also to Mrs Hathaway and Mrs McDonald for accompanying us.