Kathleen Phillips - evacuated to Brighton

Parents sent away
We were gathered together at our school the day after war was declared and taken to South Norwood Station. In the afternoon we were put on a train that whisked us to Brighton non-stop. Our parents had no idea where we were being taken. Those parents who waited at the school gate to see us leave were sent away by our headmistress who told them we were in good hands and that we would be told to write to them as soon as we arrived at our destination.

Rev and Mrs Barnes
On arrival in Brighton we were taken by bus to the Whittingham College, Surrenden Road, near Preston Park where we were each given a carrier bag containing ‘iron rations’. The only item I can remember with any certainty was a packet of dry water biscuits. We were then put back on the buses and taken round to various billets. Three other girls and I were billeted on the Rev. William Barnes and his wife who lived at 60 Stanford Avenue. He and his wife looked after us very kindly. They were in their fifties and had no children of their own and must have found us quite tiring to cope with.

Partying with the headmistress!
We had prayers every evening and went to Sunday Service, sometimes at Brighton Parish Church and sometimes at one of the two churches near Preston Park. They had a dog, so we often took it out for walks. I remember they gave us a Christmas party. They also invited friends of theirs from up the road. Billeted on these friends was our own headmistress, so she came along as well! She entered into the spirit of things; joined in all the party games and I can see her now sitting at the supper table with a paper hat on her head.

Lots of homework
The first four weeks of our stay in Brighton we did not have any schooling. Our teachers took us out to the beach or the Downs as often as they could, and we were blessed with warm, sunny weather. Eventually it was arranged for us to spend half a day at Whitehawk School, near the racecourse and we had special buses to take us there. For the rest of the day we went to the hall of St. Mary’s Catholic Church near Preston Park. I must say we were very hard working and did more homework than was usual.

Father cycled from Croydon
Of course we looked forward to visits from our parents that meant being taken out for treats such as meals, trips to the cinema or walks on the pier. I remember my father cycled all the way from Croydon, found somewhere to stay and cycled back the next day. Former neighbours of ours had moved to Brighton, so they took me out from time to time. I remember walks with the dogs in Preston Park and on the Downs. After Easter 1940 I left Brighton, came home and went to school in a brand new building. I was never evacuated again and stayed in Croydon all through the blitz.

Comments about this page

  • My father, Gerry Caesar, says he was billeted out to a woman that had two sons; could not handle two more boys so they had to be moved to another family. If anyone remembers them, please contact me. My father became a photographer on Brighton beach.

    By Shirley Caesar (27/11/2012)

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