Albert Cross was interviewed at Leek Library long before we began trying to find contributors for ‘Children on the Move’. Sadly, he has since passed away but we are glad to be able to share his story of evacuation here.
Albert was evacuated from St. Jude’s in Ancoats, Manchester to Leek on 1st September 1939. He told us that in the week leading up to his evacuation, he remembered that the school had dry runs to get them all used to taking their belongings to school and lining up in an orderly fashion. When the day came for the real evacuation, he was 12 years old and had no idea about the full implications of what was about to happen.
They travelled by train into Leek, and when they finally arrived he stood with his cousin in Britannia School waiting to be chosen. He was picked by an elderly couple called Mr. and Mrs Lees. He remembers them as very welcoming, with a lovely home and nice clean bedsheets – quite unlike what he was used to in Ancoats sharing with 7 siblings and his father, who had been widowed the previous year. After about 6 weeks the Lees couldn’t cope with them and a gentleman came to take Albert to Cromwell Terrace to stay with the Birchalls. He stayed with them after until getting married. You can listen to him talking about how the rest of his friends drifted home by clicking on the link below:
Albert fell in love with Leek as soon as he arrived. He was considered just another member of his host family, and he never returned to Manchester.