Gordon Baker lived in Aston, Birmingham with his mother, father and sister. Both he and his sister were evacuated from their elementary school in Birminghamon Friday 1st September after a little warning about what to take with them. From Birmingham they went toCheltenham, where his sister was billeted separately. They were there for a few months when a group of boys that had been evacuated to Cheltenham together were rounded up and sent on to Shooting Butts, Cannock Chase. Gordon was happy to move on as he never felt happy with his hosts in Cheltenham.
On the way to Shooting Butts the coach made a pit stop at Birmingham Moor Street Station where he was re-united with his parents. They then made their way onto Cannock, and arrived at the camp:
brand new “We were utterly lost. As far as I’m aware we were the first group of boys there so it was all brand, brand new.”
He can remember having a medical inspection before being allowed into his dormitory at the camp. It took him a few days to settle in at Shooting Butts, but he had a very good time there, and he thinks it “made a man of him”. He doesn’t remember too many details of names and dates, but can remember one lad they christened ‘Oxo Bates’ and the prefect at the camp whose name was Morris Pell.
He gives a good description of outdoor activities like picking bilberries at the WWI shooting butts in the Chase, before selling them to the maids at the camp. He spent a lot of time outside chopping down trees and working in the garden with his fellow ‘inmates’, and can remember getting the cane as punishment for various antics (click on the link below to listen):
He saw his parents about once every two months, and only went home once for Christmas. He believes his parents thought he was safer there than in Birmingham. Gordon stayed at Shooting Butts until he was 14 and was ready to start work. He had been there for two years, and thoroughly enjoyed being in the countryside.