Sunday, 11 May 2014

See the toys taken to England by Guernsey evacuees in June 1940

I  recently returned from a wonderful visit to Guernsey during their Liberation Week. Their Liberation Day is on the 9th of May and 2015 marks 70 years of Liberation from German occupation (and 75 years since the Evacuation of the island).

On Wednesday 7th May 2014 I organised a special Evacuation event in the Tourist Information Centre's gallery. We displayed some of the actual items that Guernsey’s evacuees took with them to England when they fled their island in June 1940.  The children were only supposed to take essential clothing with them on the evacuation ships, due to lack of space. However,  many managed to get a favourite toy into their small suitcase, bag, basket or pillowcase. The photograph below was taken in June 1940 as some of the Guernsey children, teachers and mothers arrived in England. It clearly shows how little they were able to carry

Photograph reproduced courtesy of the Bolton News (click to enlarge)
I was able to find a number of evacuees who still possess toys, and other items, which they took with them to England in June 1940.  Some of the evacuees live in Guernsey, others live in northern England (many did not return to Guernsey in 1945.)  These precious items were displayed at my Evacuee event, and Guernsey residents and visitors were invited to view them and to gently handle them.

(click to enlarge the photograph)

We had a large number of visitors, of all ages, including Guernsey residents and visitors to the island.   Children were encouraged to choose their favourite items and some were photographed with their chosen toy. Above are some of the items that were brought along on the day by evacuees:  a school cap and scarf, tiny evacuation suitcase, gas mask, 'Peter Pan' book, ration book, wooden toy soldiers, cigarette cards, wooden toy car, two dolls and a little dress. We also had a teddy bear, family photographs, another evacuation suitcase, a pencil case and evacuee's identity labels.

Some of the Guernsey Evacuees at the event, alongside my display of the Evacuation story

Mary Luxton with her teddy bear 'Nelson'
Julia Madden chose this doll

This child was rather unwilling to part with Joan Ozanne's wartime doll
This little boy could not decide on an item for some time

Hazel Gould (nee Hall) with her 1940 suitcase

This boy chose a hand made wooden toy car

Joan Ozanne and John Helyer shared their wartime stories

 The children and their parents also had an opportunity to speak directly to the evacuees who had brought these precious items to the event.

I provided displays on the walls of the gallery which told the evacuation story in great detail. This included wartime photographs, newspaper articles, archive documents and Red Cross letters

Erica Ninnim (evacuated to Whitby during the war) could not attend the event but I visited her home, later, to photograph her with 81 year old toy rabbit Wilfie:
Erica with Wilfie (Wilfred) the 81 year old toy rabbit

More of the photographs that I took at my event will be uploaded onto  during May 2014.

You can find out more about the Guernsey Evacuees on my blog at:

I would be glad to receive your comments at the foot of this page, or via my Guernsey blog above.

My thanks to Guernsey's Liberation Committee for providing the event facilities at the Tourist Information Centre.

1 comment:

  1. it's amazing to see the bond between toy and evacuee. I shouldn't be surprised; they went through an awful lot together. It's also encouraging to see that even in these days of high tech toys, the simple wooden car still has the power to attract small boys. Thanks for sharing Gillian