Ken Maple was born in 1934 in Hastings, East Sussex. He was orphaned at a very early age. Click on the link below to hear Ken talking about how he came to be in the orphanage and suffering air raids whilst he was there.
A group of children were evacuated from this orphanage to Admaston. He remembers arriving and being told he was to be billeted with a Mr. and Mrs Exhill and their son. He was very shy at first, and it took him several days to settle in. However, he was very happy with the Exhills in their three bedroom farmhouse, in which he had his own bedroom. He loved to help Mr. Exhill with the harvest and would spend hours outside helping on the farm and roaming in the open air. The farming community of Admaston was only tiny at that point in time, and he just remembers how everybody got on well and helped each other out, including the evacuees. One particular time each year when everybody pitched in was when it was time for slaughtering the pigs, and he is sure that the pig knew his time was up when the slaughter man was walking up the path to his sty. Ken doesn’t remember there ever being any conflict between locals and evacuees.
Click on the link below to hear Ken talking about life as an evacuee in Admaston:
He can remember a number of incidences of planes crashing, unexploded bombs and when the Americans arrived. As a child, the most challenging bit for him was walking to school in Newton. They used to walk alongside what was once the river on Lord Bagot’s estate (now Blithfield Reservoir) and the Americans were camped on the side of the river. They used to give them gum and sweets and invited them into their tents to choose what games they wanted. He also remembers the part the Land Army Girls played later in the war, arriving en masse, to pick potatoes and work on the farms.
Ken was collected by a lady from the Women’s Institute in 1945, and he watched from the back of the car as Mrs Exhill cried as he left. He then went to stay with his grandmother in Hastings until she died. One of the biggest impressions that Ken gives about the evacuation scheme was the organisation at the hands of the women folk and how everything was done with military precision. The time he spent in Admaston were the best five years of his life.