Bettine Saffery nee Saddington was born in 1934 in Margate, Kent. Before the outbreak of World War II she lived with her parents and two siblings. Her father worked at the local gas works, and her mother looked after the family. They lived in a tiny little cottage with two rooms upstairs and a room in the basement. She can remember the family having a huge garden, in which the family grew all their own vegetables.
Bettine attended Holy Trinity school in Margate with her brother, and was sent home from school one day with a letter for her mother about the impending evacuation. When her mother explained evacuation to her, she decided that she wasn’t going to do. Click on the link below to hear Bettine describing her feelings:
She can remember every single detail of the day she was evacuated. She went to school with her mother, brother and two year old sister, and had to get on a coach with her brother. Her mother told her to hold on to his hand, and to make sure they were billeted together. Everybody was in tears aside from Bettine, who felt like she couldn’t because she was looking after her brother.
They were put on a train with just some lunch, and got off somewhere around London to have a lunch of corned beef and mashed potato with a desert of rice pudding. They were put on one more train until they reached their destination: the small village of Drayton Bassett. They were led into a room where ladies chose the evacuees they wanted to take home. She can remember them wanting mainly girls, and becoming worried that nobody would pick both her and her brother to take home. Somebody did, however, and in her own words, her brother has made her old since she was six.
They were taken back to their hosts in a car, which was a first for Bettine and her brother. Click on the following link to hear Bettine talking about their arrival at their new home:
They were to stay with Mr. and Mrs Titterton, or Uncle Fred and Aunty Em. They gave the two children some Cadbury’s chocolate biscuits and a glass of milk and then they were put to bed.
Bettine describes the Titterton’s home as a large bungalow in its own grounds, and the hosts themselves were nothing but kind to the two children. They would take them for walks in the countryside, and along the canal to watch the horses pulling the barges. The Tittertons kept chickens and pigs, and Bettine can remember the sound of the pig being killed as the worse noise she had ever heard. The two children would hide upstairs while the pig was being killed, with their heads under their pillows. ‘Aunty Em’ was also the President of the local Women’s Institute, so Bettine would get involved in all sorts of activities like making jam and gifts at Christmas.
The only sad days of her evacuation were those days after her parents had left from visiting them. They would spend the rest of that day sitting under Mrs Titterton’s large kitchen table, pining for their parents.
When the time came to leave Bettine remembers being excited about going to the seaside, but she was also sad about leaving. The pair should have gone home in January 1945, but her hosts weren’t ready to let them go, and so sent a letter to her parents explaining why the children hadn’t arrived on the train on which they were expected. They actually went home two months later, after the Tittertons had had more time to come to terms with them leaving.