ON VE Day we bring you something from our archives. An annual celebration by evacuees and residents who housed them during the war takes place every year in Pontyates, Carmarthenshire. This year it has had to be cancelled.
A reunion of evacuees and the families from Pontyates who housed them during the war took place at the Miner’s Welfare Hall in Pontyates on Saturday (May 9).
The event coincided with the V.E. Day celebrations taking place across the U.K.
Organiser Dennis Nelson was evacuated from Swansea during the Blitz. Dennis said, “We were all sent here from Mayhill School in Swansea, and an area, which was heavily bombed.
“I was 9 Years old at the time. They tried to keep brothers and sisters together as best they could.
“We were told that we were being evacuated. We met at the school and a double decker bus took us to Swansea station and then we were taken by train to Carmarthen and then by bus to Pontyates.
“We were all taken to Gwynfrynne School and people came to collect us. All they had as a choice was boy or girl. A lady took me on a motorbike to a family in Meinciau. It was a posh house with a grand piano. As I went in the lady said ‘Oh! I thought you’d be a girl’. I was told that there was a place near a school so I went there instead.
“They couldn’t speak English. Eventually they moved me to another place where I stayed with my friend Grenville, who went on to become Lord Mayor of Swansea.
Marina James was a local child in Pontyates and remembers playing with evacuees who had been sent to Pontyates.
“We used to meet them at Sunday school because we went to different schools.
“The evacuees were English children and had their own teachers who had travelled with them.
“They were treated like one of us.”
Joan Williams (left) of Swansea was 5 Years of age when she was evacuated by train and bus to Pontyates.
She said “We had no idea where we were going. We were given a suitcase, a gas mask and a label.
“The families were marvellous. The family I stayed with had lost their children so I stayed with them.
“They treated us more like their own children than someone else’s children.”
Mrs Olive Hackford from Swansea was taken to Pontyates by her mother and left with a local family.
She said, “It was very strict and I Was taught to darn, to knit and to prepare food.
“They had a daughter of two years of age who is with me here today. They grew all their fruit and veg and when my mum visited she never went home empty handed.
“I come back every year for the reunion. I put the old school photograph in the Evening Post and that is how we all met up.”
The children of Mayhill School who were evacuated to Pontyates during the Blitz. Mrs. Joan Baker from Swansea was evacuated at 10 Years of age.
She said, “When I left Pontyates I cried. My mother came and took me back. I didn’t ever forget those people from Pontyates.
“The other children were older than I. It was a very Welsh speaking community and we went to chapel and church. We took very little with us when we left Swansea.” It wasn’t only children from the
British cities who were evacuated. Millions of families were torn apart by the war, which had engulfed Europe. Refugees flocked to Britain from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. These refugees also found their way into the homes of families with some never ever seeing their parents again. It is worth remembering that we are witnessing a mass exodus of refugees from war torn countries today. We are constantly reminded that these people are often not welcome and in fact, border controls do their utmost to keep them out. A week’s rations for one person during the Second World War.
Evacuees and residents of Pontyates at the reunion (May 9, 2015).
Conservatives’ Lack of Action on Obscene Energy Profits “Indefensible” says Welsh Lib Dems
New Audit Office Report on Poverty in Wales supports Plaid Cymru’s calls
Successful Operation targeting anti-social driving across Newport and Monmouthshire