Betty was interviewed at her home in Staffordshire. Peter Allen, who was billeted with Betty’s family during the war, was also present for the interview as Betty was convinced that she wouldn’t remember too much without him. On the contrary, having Betty speak about things reminded Peter of events that we had not talked about in his interview (a summary of Peter’s interview is also available on this website).
Betty Allen née Smith tells us how Peter just seemed to fit in to her home in Onecote at the farm which was locally known as ‘halfway house to everywhere’. Betty’s father Mr. Smith was asked to go around the local area with the new evacuee arrivals from London in his truck, and see who would have them. With a cousin who had lost his mother recently, they didn’t have any room for an evacuee themselves, but upon getting to the school to help out, Mr. Smith was asked to take Peter away as he was crying and going to set everybody else off.
Betty can remember her mother, Mrs Smith, telling her later that his knees were badly worn from two much cold and not enough washing, and that they looked so shiny as if to be polished. She also remembers a number of times where Peter got into scrapes, including falling off his bike, which he used to deliver post for the postmistress, and sliding on the ice in his clogs and bumping his head.
Far from being picked on at school, Peter remembers making many friends and actually being one of those who picked on a boy called Kenny Woolliscroft who was prone to epileptic fits. Another of the children called Kenneth Bullock had the misfortune to be the child of Mrs Bullock, a teacher who was renowned for liking the cane. Whenever one of the students got the cane, Kenneth got one back.
Betty remembers well the time when it was decided Peter would stay on after the war had finished, although she wasn’t there that winter as Onecotes was basically snowed in, and when Peter did leave, he was missed terribly. She went to Peter’s first wedding in London, and well remembers Peter’s unexpected visits to their farmhouse after he had returned home. Listen to her remembering this by clicking on the link below:
Click here to read about Peter’s evacuation first-hand.