recollections, photos and memorabilia of Leyton and Leytonstone
High Road, Leyton
Midland Station to Leyton Green
In order to protect against gas attacks, both adults and children were issued with
gas-masks in little square boxes. Kathleen's was in the shape of Mickey Mouse and
John's was in the shape of Donald Duck. Not that it made the wearing of them any
better. Kathleen hated gas-mask drill at school. The confining rubbery smell over
her face and nose made her feel sick. When playtime came, she couldn't face her dripping
sandwiches, so she changed over with her friend June and had bread and jam instead.
As time passed, the air-raids became more frequent and the evacuation of children
began. This was a frightening time for all children, but most of all for Kathleen.
Three years before, she had been sent away to St Leonard's-on-sea to a convent as
she suffered from asthma and it was felt that the sea air would do her good. This
meant that she was to be parted from her family for some months. This was a traumatic
experience for a nine year old girl, and now she dreaded the thought of being separated
from her parents so much, that it was agreed that her mother should accompany her
and John. Lily managed to find employment with a farmer in St Austell, Cornwall,
and it was with great sadness that she and the children said goodbye to Phillip and
boarded the steam train at Paddington.
There were to be some memorable times for Kathleen and John. Kathleen remembers boarding
a bus and going to the fishing town of Mevagissey. A woman got onto the bus with
a crab, the size of a dinner-plate in her bag. She put the bag on the floor, and
while she was paying for her fare, the crab got out and ran down the aisle of the
bus. Kathleen, who hated anything crawly, was scared stiff, and stood up on the seat
so that it wouldn't get her.