30 May 2014

Wild Strawberries ~ "an entertaining read, and a useful addition to the literature on the evacuees"



Most evacuee memoirs that I have read were written by people who were evacuated from London, normally fairly early in the Second World War and often from very poor neighbourhoods. This book differs from these books in just about every way! First of all the author was evacuated from Birmingham, not from London. Second he didn't leave until the Birmingham blitz had been underway for some time (and ironically was somewhat close to ending). Third, the author's parent's house in Birmingham was a modern building, complete with electricity and modern plumbing, and his school was also modern and well designed.

This gives the book a different tone - the author was evacuated to a house with less modern facilities than his own, and to an overwhelmed school in an older building. He was also evacuated to a house in a hamlet near Yoxall in Staffordshire, quite close to my own home village. After a comparatively short period here, the author was diagnosed with scabies, and moved to a nearby children's hospital set up for evacuees. His memoirs thus cover a wider range of experiences than is often the case.

The book is well written and involving. One gets the impression that the author had a largely positive experience as an evacuee (with one notable exception). For most of the time there is less of a sense of isolation than in many accounts, partly because the author kept up a regular written correspondence with his mother and partly because he was able to arrange a visit home, not something mentioned in the other evacuee memoirs I've read! This is an entertaining read, and a useful addition to the literature on the evacuees.

Review by Dr John Rickard, HistoryOfWar.org, a site for information on all aspect of military history.
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