A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “evacuees”

Blog Tour – ‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ by Maggie Mason ~ @LittleBrownUK @Authormary

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ was published on the 18th April 2019 in paperback by Sphere and is also available as an eBook and in hardback.  I was thrilled to be invited by the author to take part in this blog tour and would like to thank the publisher for my review copy of this book.

You will find out in a minute what I thought of this book.  First though, here’s the blurb.

 

 

Book Blurb

The perfect read for fans of Mary Wood, Kitty Neale, Val Wood and Nadine Dorries
***PREVIOUSLY CALLED BLACKPOOL EVACUEE***

Clara is forced to flee her home as the Nazis invade the beautiful island of Guernsey

Separated from her mother, far away from anything familiar, she is at the mercy of a cruel shopkeeper. Clara is worked like a dog, but the warmth of her Blackpool friendships will go far to save her.

Julia just wants to find her beloved daughter – but the trials of war will keep them far apart.

They will meet again – but the war will change everything for mother and daughter

 

My Review

As you probably know by now I love family sagas and historical fiction. I was really looking forward to reading ‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ and I can tell you that it was well worth the wait. I truly loved this story and was totally hooked all the way through. Maggie Mason is such a wonderful writer and tells it how it would have been in the 1940s. It is obvious that a lot of research and care and attention has gone into writing this book.

Set during the Second World War, this is the story of Julia and her young daughter Clara. The Nazis could invade Guernsey at anytime and Julia has no other option but to put her daughter’s safety before her own, even though that means they will be separated from each other. Clara is about to embark on a journey and doesn’t know where she will end up. When she finds out that she is being sent to Blackpool her spirits lift a little.

Clara’s life is far from easy and she has to do a lot of growing up quickly. Along the way she makes some good friends and they keep her going, even with things as unbearable as they are.

There were lots of characters in this story, many with their own tragic tale to tell. But whatever happened they kept going one way or the other. Then there were the unsavoury characters, i.e. the gangsters. The brutality Clara and others like her faced was appalling and at times there didn’t seem to be much hope for them, so it was nice to see that they could have a bit of fun together sometimes. Both Clara and Julia went through a lot and their lives changed so much over the years.

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ is absolutely outstanding and is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. With unforgettable characters this is a story that will stay in my heart for ages. I hope Maggie Mason writes lots more books.

If like me you love family sagas then I recommend that you buy yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed and will be wanting more.

~~~~~

‘Blackpool’s Daughter’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackpool-Evacuee-Maggie-Mason/dp/0751573191/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1555612146&sr=1-1-fkmrnull

 

About Maggie Mason

Maggie Mason is a pseudonym of author Mary Wood. Mary began her career by self-publishing on kindle where many of her sagas reached number one in genre. She was spotted by Pan Macmillan and to date has written many books for them under her own name, with more to come. Mary continues to be proud to write for Pan Macmillan, but is now equally proud and thrilled to take up a second career with Sphere under the name of Maggie Mason. A Blackpool Lass is her first in a planned series of standalone books and trilogies set in her home town of Blackpool.

Mary retired from working for the National Probation Service in 2009, when she took up full time writing, something she’d always dreamed of doing. She follows in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, Dora Langlois, who was an acclaimed author, playwright and actress in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century.

It was her work with the Probation Service that gives Mary’s writing its grittiness, her need to tell it how it is, which takes her readers on an emotional journey to the heart of issues.

 

Links

Website – https://www.authormarywood.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/HistoricalNovels

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Authormary

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees’ by Gillian Mawson

Layout 1

I am delighted to be revealing the cover of Gillian Mawson’s new book, which is out on the 30th November published by Frontline Books.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Gillian’s book contains the testimony of children, mothers and teachers who were evacuated during the Second World War in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are also stories from those who sought safety on the UK mainland from Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar. Chapters focus on the difficult decisions made by parents to send their children away, the journeys by train and ship, adjustment to life in a new area and the kindness shown to evacuees by British communities.

The darker side of evacuation is also revealed – some households refused to care for evacuees, others were cruel to the children and some died. Evacuees were killed within days of arriving in supposedly ‘safe’ areas. They drowned, perished in air raids or were killed by military vehicles driving too quickly around narrow streets. An MP in the House of Commons voiced his fears that, if these incidents were revealed to the public, mothers might demand that their children be sent back home!

The book also reveals emotional letters written between evacuees, their parents and their wartime ‘foster parents’ which are still treasured today. Evacuees describe going home in 1945 after five years of separation from their parents. Some did not want to leave the ‘foster parents’ they had come to love – to them, this was ‘evacuation’ all over again and very traumatic. Many stayed in touch with their beloved foster parents for the rest of their lives.

‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees: The People, Places and Stories of the Evacuations Told Through the Accounts of Those Who Were Thereis published on 30 November 2016 and can be pre ordered here: http://amzn.to/2cp8Wug

 

About Gillian Mawson

Gillian Mawson is a freelance historian with a huge interest in oral history. She has been interviewing evacuees since 2008 and this is her third book. She runs a community group for Guernsey evacuees who decided to remain in Manchester when the war ended. She lives in Derbyshire and her wartime blog can be found at: https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

Guest Post by Gillian Mawson

author-picture

I am delighted to have the lovely Gillian Mawson on my blog today.  Gillian has written a truly fascinating guest post which I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.

 

“I WON’T HAVE ANY EVACUEES!” – THE  BRITISH FAMILIES WHO REFUSED TO TAKE IN EVACUEES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Since 2008 I have interviewed over 500 people, who were evacuated as children or as adults, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands. Families have also given me access to the testimony and documents of those who have passed away. During the Second World War it was viewed as an important part of the British war effort for householders to take evacuees into their homes. Letters from local councils and wartime posters appeared everywhere, entreating housewives with the words, “When you take in an evacuee you will be doing a splendid service for the nation” and “Caring for Evacuees is a National Service.”

picture-1

However, a study of wartime newspapers shows that, for various reasons, some householders emphatically refused to provide accommodation to evacuees. A Staffordshire newspaper revealed that housewives had slammed the door in the faces of the Women’s Voluntary Service when they called to ask how many evacuees could be accommodated at that house,  ‘There were occasions when householders slammed the door in the faces of  the WVS ladies! That, to say the very least, was adding insult to injury.’  James Roffey still recalls the day in early September 1939 when he and his sister were taken to a cottage in Pulborough, West Sussex:

The young man who had brought us there knocked loudly on the door. No one appeared and the door remained tightly closed, so he knocked again, much louder this time. Suddenly the door opened and a very cross-looking woman appeared and shouted, ‘Who are you and what do you want?’ The young man, who was obviously taken aback, replied, ‘I have been sent by the Billeting Officer to bring these two evacuees.’ She immediately answered, ‘Well you can take them away again. I won’t have any bloody evacuees!’ and slammed the door shut. He knocked on the door again and the woman immediately opened it and again started shouting at him, but this time he put his foot in the doorway to stop her shutting it. Then he pushed us inside, saying, ‘You’ve got to take them by law; if you don’t I’ll call the police.’

Few households were willing to provide a home to evacuated mothers with a child and the Rochdale Observer stated, ‘The accommodating of mothers and children presented great difficulties and in the final stages, compulsory powers had to be exercised. ‘ Alfred Goble will never forget his arrival in Somerset, with his mother and sister, ‘They gave us a bun and a cup of tea and put us into this hall for the night. No one wanted to offer us a home. The next day we had to go to Wells and the same again there – no one wanted the three of us. I remember standing by the Cathedral and Town Hall, weeping with Mum as we were kept waiting.’

picture-2

Some families initially took evacuees into their homes, then quickly tried to get rid of them.  One Cheshire housewife asked her local Billeting officer, ‘Can you find another home for the girl? I simply don’t have the time to look after another child as I already have two of my own.’   Newspapers described court cases involving families, who, for various reasons, refused to keep evacuees. The Stockport Advertiser stated, ‘Mr and Mrs Jones of Offerton were charged with refusing to accept an evacuee. The clerk pointed out to the couple that it was unpatriotic of them and they were fined.’ The Leek Post stated, ‘For failing to accept two evacuees Mr. William Wardles Sales of Leek was fined two pounds and ten shillings costs at Leek police court on Wednesday. This was the first case of its kind to be heard in a local court.’[i]  Later on in the war, more cases appeared in the Leek press when hundreds of London evacuees arrived in the town, fleeing the flying bombs:

Three people were each charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice and total fees and costs amounted to over £40 were imposed. The defence in each case constituted a plea of poor health and in 2 of the cases lack of domestic help also. Mr Horace Bowcock was charged with failing to comply with a billeting notice on the 25th of July, and with a similar offence on the 27th of July. The Clerk read a letter from Mr Bowcock stating he was unable to comply with the notices during the past 5 years. His wife has been in poor health and has constantly been receiving medical attention. At the time of the billeting notice they were expecting his wife’s unmarried sister who was ill to come from Macclesfield on a visit. They had only 2 bedrooms and a small room which was used as a study.[ii]

A Gloucestershire newspaper shared the tragic case of a couple who had become depressed because evacuees were billeted with them. As a result, Sir William Reid had gone into Burford Woods, killed his wife then shot himself:

Sir William’s brother stated in court, ‘Soon after the evacuees arrived, Sir William asked me to go over with him on his wife’s behalf to try and get the evacuees taken from the house. Afterwards he got very dissatisfied because I know he got rather short shrift.’ The coroner replied, ‘Did having to take in evacuees depress him?’ The brother replied, ‘Yes, it was owing to his intense fondness for his wife that he attempted to get rid of the evacuee children billeted with them. He told me that he was quite sure that his wife could not carry on.’ The jury returned a verdict that Sir William murdered his wife and then himself whilst not of sound mind.

My third book, ‘Evacuation in the Second World War told through Newspaper reports, Official documents and the Accounts of those who were there’ will be published on 30 November 2016 by Frontline Books. It contains testimony, wartime photographs and documents from hundreds of evacuees – children and adults – who spent the war years in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It also includes testimony from Channel Island and Gibraltar evacuees. For more information, see:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gillian-Mawson/e/B008MWQ0IE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_

My British evacuation blog can be found at:

https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

________________________

[i]      Leek Post and Times, 18 January 1941, p.1. The Argument was his wife’s bad health – they would like children but could not manage them.

[ii]     Leek Post and Times, 11 August 1944, p.1.

 

Interview with Gillian Mawson

Gills_head_only

Gillian Mawson was born in Stockport in Cheshire and now lives in Derbyshire.  She is married and has two cats.  Gillian’s new book is out today and she kindly took the time to answer some questions.

 

Your new book sounds absolutely fascinating.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

book_cover_Low_res_for_onlineuse

The book is ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’. It is published by History Press on Tuesday 30th September in hardback format.

I have a passionate interest in social history and during 2013 I collected personal stories from 100 people who spent the war years as evacuees in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. My new book, ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the World War Two Home Front’ contains memorable extracts from these stories. They are accompanied by family photographs, many of which have been rescued from old suitcases and attics. The book also includes the memories of adults who travelled with the evacuated school children.

Prior to this, I spent four years interviewing evacuees for my first book, ‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War.’  17,000 people fled Guernsey to England in June 1940, just weeks before the occupation of their island by Germany. Sadly, many of the people I interviewed have since died. I feel it is vital that the memories of Second World War evacuees are recorded now before they are lost for ever.

My new book contains stories from those who were evacuated within Britain as part of ‘Operation Pied Piper’. Others come from those who sought sanctuary in Britain from France, Belgium, the Ukraine and Spain or from persecution in Germany. I also include memories from evacuees who fled from British territories such as Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I began to collect the stories and family photographs in January 2013 and had to edit some of the stories. Some evacuees sent me a few paragraphs whilst others sent me 20 pages of memories. Because 100 stories are in the book, I had to edit the stories and select a memorable extract from each one. This was difficult as you can imagine. In addition some evacuees did not have access to a camera during the war, so I contacted local history societies and local newspapers. They kindly provided photographs to accompany these stories which delighted the evacuees.

 

How do you go about doing your research?

I often place letters in regional newspapers and on websites, asking for evacuees to come forward and share their stories. I also make great use of my own evacuation websites, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Even if an evacuee is not online or using social media, one of their children or grandchildren is.

 

Do you find the evacuees stories emotional at times?

I find them very emotional indeed. I interviewed 200 evacuees for my ‘Guernsey Evacuees’ book between 2008 and 2012, and the book was published in November 2012. I pick it up now and then and read a chapter and am still very moved indeed. The stories I have gathered for my new book have the same effect on me. Sometimes whilst interviewing evacuees they are moved to tears by their memories and I am too. When I read the final proof of my new book a month ago, I wept quite a few times.

I also run a community group for Guernsey evacuees who live in the Manchester area – they did not return home after the war. We organise events in order to share their stories with schools and museums. The evacuees’ memories still have the power to move me to tears especially when I hear them sharing them with members of the public.

 

How long have you been a social historian for?

I have loved history since I was a child and always reading about the lives of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. I began to study for my history degrees at the University of Manchester when I was 40 years old whilst I was working full time in an office.  In 2004 I began to write various history articles for magazines and newspapers, and in 2008 I began to interview Guernsey evacuees, both in the UK and in Guernsey. I wanted to find out about their wartime experiences on the UK mainland. It taught me a great deal about evacuation and also about the British Home Front during the Second World War.

 

Is this something you always wanted to do?

I enjoyed writing stories when I was a teenager, so I was very happy when I was offered a contract to write my first history book in 2012. Since writing that book, many of the evacuees have died. I feel it is vital that I interview as many evacuees as I can, while they are still with us, to record and preserve their memories for future generations.

 

Have you got anymore books planned?

I have 5 more book proposals in mind but I don’t want to give too much away at this stage. Four of them relate to the subject of the Second World War. – not just evacuation. The fifth is on a completely different historical subject – however, it does include interviews with people!

 

Describe a day in your life.

I have a part time office job, but on the remaining days I work on various matters including organising events for my evacuee community group, trying to obtain funding for the group and interviewing more evacuees. I send emails or letters to many of the evacuees I have interviewed as we have become good friends. I write down my ideas for future books and write articles for magazines and newspapers.

I have started to share my Guernsey evacuation archive online as much as possible so am in constant contact with museums and websites to ensure that this information is shared digitally. I receive emails from evacuees who wish to be reunited with wartime friends and I try to help them as much as I can. I have reunited a number of evacuees and this is very moving and makes me very happy indeed.

I am frequently contacted by people whose parents or grandparents (now deceased) were evacuees. They want to find out more about their relatives’ experiences during the war. I help as much as I can. Authors and television documentary companies contact me to obtain accurate historical information for their wartime novels and programmes. I also give talks to schools, history groups and museums about wartime evacuation and speak on the radio about my research. There is not much time for relaxation but I am very happy in what I do.

 

Links

You can find out more about Gillian’s new book on her blog:-

http://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

Gillian’s books can be purchased on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gillian-Mawson/e/B008MWQ0IE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

Gillian’s blog on the Guernsey evacuation can be found here:-

http://guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/evacuation/

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: