Tony commenced the story with his grandfather who started, off in London at the age of 11, to develop his arithmetic skills. He travelled alot and in 1901 he married, and went to live in Glasgow. Tony relayed a varied family history, including his grandmother being shipwrecked, with daughters Mabel and Dorothy.
His Grandmother developed her social skills by falling out with all their relatives. Setting up a retail trade in West Park Leeds, she equally fell out with neighbouring retailers. She decided to pursue a domestic roll and from 1932 she never had breakfast anywhere else but in bed!.
Aunty Dorothy was born in Hilton Road, Harehills, Leeds in 1910. In the 1930’s, she learned to drive and was also a keen swimmer, with a love of children and dogs. She decided to go on a banana boat trip; with some money that was gifted to her by her father. Whilst at sea, war was declared. On her journey back, she stopped passed a refugee train, where she observed children, with their gas masks and parcels, being sent off to the country. This had a profound effect on Dorothy and her desire to help others was born.
In 1914, the first air raid to hit London, where Dorothy was located, and 3 ½ million people had to be evacuated. A handbook was produced warning of the potential devastation to come. In 1938 WAVS, recruiting woman, asked them to survey the UK where they discovered 5 million billets. They also identified 4 million children, invalids and mothers that required evacuated.
Aunty wanted to go into the Ambulance Service, but was dissuaded by her father. On the creation of the COEB (Children’s Overseas Evacuation Board), she applied and asked to go to New Zealand or Australia. Unfortunately, due to the sinking of a ship containing COEB members, she never actually got to go. Through various twists and turns, his Aunty eventually found herself on the trains, marshalling children and the elderly. Tony detailed some of the tragic events that his Aunty had carefully documented in a series of small books. People were shunted from pillar to post and often taken to places they were not welcome. She recalls a quote from one particular Mayor “We don’t want you, but we have to put up with you”. All the time, Dorothy's desire to help others drove her forward.
Sadly, Dorothy (see photograph) died in 1961. However, these precious papers have been loving preserved for future generations. Thank you Tony for sharing these little ‘Gems’.