Eddy Amey has met many evacuees, but has never heard of anyone who was despatched to Newport in the Isle of Wight. He says: ‘I wonder how many other children were evacuated there?’
He was a pupil at St Luke’s infants in 1939, but was returned to Portsmouth when his family was rehoused from ‘a slum house’ in Hampton Street, Southsea, to Washbrook Road ‘in the newly-built “Garden Village” of Wymering council estate due to my ill health’.
They lived there until 1950 and that period has stirred memories for Eddy, of St Michael’s Grove, Fareham.
He remembers many households keeping chickens and rabbits and growing vegetables to top up rations, while ‘next door but one even kept a goat in the back garden’.
‘On Sunday mornings entrepreneurs with tradesmen’s cycles would comes around hawking cockles, winkles and watercress for Sunday tea. On Sunday afternoons we were sent to Sunday school at Wymering Church. We would escape as soon as we had a star stamped on our attendance card.
‘Once a fortnight you had a short back and sides haircut. You joined a queue at the side of a house in Washbrook Road where an elderly man set up shop in his shed with two benches for those waiting and a barstool for barbering – 6d (2.5p) for men and 3d (1p) for boys.’
Eddy recalls that a man in Lowestoft Road would put on films for youngsters. ‘There were three benches in the sitting room for about 20 kids and an hour of silent black and white films.’
In the summer Eddy remembers grass sledging down Portsdown Hill and playing lamppost cricket and football. He adds: ‘Our football was curtailed for some time when a Sherman tank in a convoy ran over the only proper football we had. All this was against a background of air raids and austerity and going to and from the tunnel shelters in the chalkpit or the Anderson shelter in the garden.
‘When the Americans arrived they annexed the girls’ end of Portsdown school and housed a coloured regiment there because the American army was segregated at that time.’