World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Douglas Dale 

Douglas Dale Evacuee – A Sixty-Five Year Connection

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: DOUGLAS DALE
Background to story: Civilian



I was born in Bayswater Street, Leeds 8, in November 1930 and was 8 yrs old when the war broke out. I was sent off as an evacuee with the second wave in Spring 1940, leaving our school Harehills on Roundhay Road with our gas masks in boxes, a big label on to tell who we were, a tiny bag of spare clothes and our ration book. Some cried but most laughed and got on with it.

I first billeted with Mrs. Renee Sanderson, her small son David and another evacuee from Leeds. Renee was wonderful, the house was wonderful with a big garden, a tree and chickens, and a great big bathroom and kitchen. It was a first for me. Mrs. Sanderson baked lovely cakes and was quite firm, but very nice and fair. She laughed a lot, although her husband was away in the forces. I had a hernia at the time and wore a truss to hold my lump in, a bit of a handicap but I managed.

For some reason, after about six months, I was moved to another billet across the village, to a Mrs. Sutton who was not too happy a person. She never baked or gave me any sweet things. So I began going back to Mrs. Sanderson’s, where I always had some cake again. From Mrs. Sutton’s I could watch at night when the horizon was lit up by the big blitz on Hull in the East; it looked awful.

After about a year, three or four of us decided to walk home, setting off for Leeds on the A64, but we tired, got downhearted and turned back at the Buckles Inn. As Leeds did not suffer much bombing, the evacuees began to go home and I returned in the summer of 1941 to a different house in Leeds,It was in Nowell Crescent. I remember soon afterwards going into Leeds General
Infirmary for an operation on my hernia – or rupture – as we used to call it. The ward was full, as there was a lot of injured folk from Hull and I was put in a bed that was lined up the middle of the ward, it was so full.

By this time, late 1941, my Dad was in the Home Guard and was issued with a Lee Enfield 303 rifle and sent to guard Arthington Rail Viaduct, two nights a week. The viaduct carried the railway link from Leeds to Harrogate over the river Wharfe Valley. When my eldest brother, Kenneth was eighteen, he took over from Dad in the Home Guard. He was a railway fireman and so was not called up. Leeds was very lucky and only had the odd bomb dropped on it. When this did happen, we lads would go out next day looking for shrapnel souvenirs. We always used to be on the look out for Victory V lozenges too which were the only substitute we could find for sweets. Fish and chips were also a big treat when available, as no ration points were needed. Times were supposed to be hard but it was the same for everyone so we didn’t notice.

I have kept in touch with Renee Sanderson over all the intervening years, she came to my wedding and all my children have been to see her at some time. I still visit her every time I am near York, and Renee will be 100 years old this year. She still manages to live alone with just a bit of help and still bakes her sons a Christmas cake each.

A truly lovely lady – and I am proud to have met and known her well.