William John Badham was born in Bethnall Green in December 1928. He attended the school in Columbia Road, and can remember going to the flower market on Sunday mornings. He lived with his parents and two much older sisters who worked for Bank of England in London. His father worked for London Midland Scottish Airways and the family lived in a small house with a very large garden. During the war this house was bombed; two of their budgies were killed and they lost a number of possessions.
He thinks they were told at school about evacuation, and were given a fortnight’s notice to prepare. On the day the pupils walked from the school to Cambridge Heath Station, and had their gas masks, name badge and some luggage as they had been advised. He can remember thinking the whole affair was a big adventure, as they thought they would only be away for six months.
They were first evacuated to North Walsham, Norfolk, where Bill was billeted with the local milkman. After ten days his headmaster, who had come with them from Columbia Road School, told him he was being sent elsewhere, and he made his way along with 15 other boys to Hoveton Hall where they stayed for nine months. On 31st May the same headmaster told them that they were being moved on to Wales because invasion was feared. He pointed out where they would be going on a map.
They got on a train at North Walsham but, instead of Wales, they got out at Leek. They had no maps, so didn’t know where they were in the world, and were allocated to different buses. Bill was put on a bus to Rushton School where he was chosen by Mrs Robinson along with his friend Pat Rushton to stay at a the Robinsons’ farm. They were taken by car to her house, which Bill remembers as nice, and they shared a bedroom. Bill enjoyed helping on the farm, although his friend didn’t adjust quite as well:
Bill stayed with them for two years before returning to Londonto work in a solicitor’s office. He then came back to the Robinsons to work with them for five years from 1946 before going home once more. He then returned to Staffordshire where he married the girl who lived down the road from their farm. He has lived in Staffordshire ever since.