I remember services, Christmas parties.... home of dear Auntie and Uncle Dai.
"Children safe and in good home don't worry".
Donald Parker lived in Liverpool with his bother, Leonard Parker, his father, Charles Parker, and grandmother and grandfather at 46 Morland Street, Everton when war broke out. His mother had died of pneumonia in 1938, after standing on a balcony with her husband to cool off whilst at a dance. Donald was only two and a half at the time and Leonard was four. It was for this reason that Donald and his brother and father went to live with their grandparents.
On the second of September 1939, Donald's whole school, teachers included, (Lorraine Street School, Everton) were evacuated to Aberystwyth, Wales. Only four years old, Donald journeyed together with his brother and was glad to have him to look after him. Once they reached Borth Station they had to leave the train. Each child was given a carrier bag containing a tin of corned beef, one packet of biscuits and one big block of milk chocolate.
Donald remembers being so delighted with this carrier bag that he took it to bed that evening, unwilling to part with it. From Borth the whole school was bussed to Chancery School in Llanfarian Aberystwyth. He remembers all the children being selected by people to go to their new homes.
He was taken with his brother to his new home in a big blue Rolls Royce that belonged to the Smith sisters of Ffosrhygaled (now the Conrah Hotel). The sisters had lent their car to help distribute all the evacuees to their respective new homes.
He arrived at the welcoming home of David and Anne Jane Edwards, Llys Awel, Llanfarian. The kind couple were to be known to Donald and his brother as Auntie and Uncle Dai, and they treated the two boys as their own. After tea Uncle Dai took them out for a walk to Pentre-bont and sent a telegram to Gran and Grandad Davies, 46 Morland Street, Liverpool. The telegram said: "Children safe and in good home don't worry".
Donald Parker has kept his brother's memoirs of the time spent in Llanfarian:
I remember services, Christmas parties.... home of dear Auntie and Uncle Dai. A very happy home and a wonderful childhood full of happy memories. From the window in Llys Awel you could gaze across at the river Ystwyth and view the mountainside adjacent to Ty Llwyd farm, and auntie would gaze towards Llanilar and say that a storm was coming.
I have viewed the river Ystwyth as a trickle of water and in winter as a raging torrent. In the summer I was taught to swim by the Vicar of Llanychaearn Church, Rev. Gwynfor Jones. I am fond of swimming and grateful that I was first taught to swim in the river Ystwyth in 1940 at the age of eight. In 1941 the river froze over and Donald and I enjoyed sliding on the ice. Unfortunately Donald fell in as the ice cracked. We hauled him out soaking wet and then auntie had to sort him out!!
Uncle Dai looked after the lawns and gardens and we enjoyed runner beans, tatws newydd, raspberries, blackcurrants etc. My favourite flower was the primrose and it is still my favourite.
Donald remembers being so thrilled by the countryside in Wales as he had never seen sheep, rivers or forests.
School had to be re-arranged somewhat to accommodate the new evacuees. The English children were taught in the mornings and the Welsh children were taught in the afternoons. Later on the English children were moved to the Pentre-bont village hall to have school there.
Transcription of Leonard Parker's memoirs:
After two years at Chancery School we were moved to the Pentre-bont Village Hall under the headmistress Miss Pogue and her assistant Miss Winstanley. Miss Gracey was our headmistress when we went to Chancery School and Mr Lewis was the Welsh headmaster.
I remember him popping his head into our class at 11a.m. one morning and solemly announce "that H.M.S. Hood had been sunk by the German battleship Bismarck."
The village hall was also used for dances whenever a local boy came home on leave and we all enjoyed the music. The village hall was demolished in1980 to make way for a larger bridge across the river Ystwyth.
At the end of 1940 Donald and Leonard's father arrived to visit them at Llys Awel. To their dismay he announced that he had brought them their 'new' mother. Mary Parker was introduced to them and Donald remembers feeling very unhappy about this.
Unfortunately, Donald and Leonard's new stepmother Mary decided that she wanted Donald to live with her in Liverpool. She took him to 22 Forfar Road Liverpool at the end of 1940. Why she only wanted to take Donald is still unknown to him.
Donald found himself back in Liverpool far away from the new safe home which he had come to love. Ironically, Donald was in Liverpool during the time of the May Blitz in which much of Liverpool was completely flattened. He remembers night after night of bombings and spending many nights in the air raid shelter.
The SS Malakand, which was heavily loaded with ammunition, was bombed in Liverpool harbour. This had a devastating effect on the surrounding area in which many were killed and wounded.
Donald remembers walking in the remains of a bombed train two miles away from the harbour in Liverpool. He and other boys would go through the wreckage in search of shrapnel. He remembers his pockets bulging with bullets and other items and experiencing great excitement comparing his items to the other boys' collections. He was the envy of all his friends when he found the nose cone of an artillery shell. The prize in this was the aluminium clock that remained after the the bomb had gone off.
He shudders now when he thinks of the grave danger he and all the boys were in when scrambling over the remains of buildings and trains. They would lean up against rickety walls and push them until they fell over. Dens were made and played in using pieces of wood and doors that had been blown apart.
Donald and Leonard's grandparents of 46 Morland Street survived the bombings but the home was completely destroyed by a parachute mine in the Blitz bombings of May 1941. The only item that survived the blast was a porcelain vase. Although the lid was broken, it was mended at the time with condensed milk, as glue was difficult to acquire during the war. The condensed milk has held the lid together all this time.
Donald Parker's experience in Wales was such a significant one that he moved to Aberystwyth after the war and has stayed ever since.