John Turner's Story 
Bedford in WW2 
Evacuees and other Strangers 

It all started in September 1939.Coming along the road was a Billeting Officer followed by hordes of apprehensive and somewhat frightened children, mainly from London, who had tearfully left their parents behind to face a blitz, which seemed a long time coming.
All householders were to declare how many bedrooms were vacant and accordingly my family were given two children and became in a sense, foster parents.
Rosie and Daisy were the ones who came to us, but what my Mother did not know, was that they belonged to a special school for children with health problems. Their school was to be situated at the Goldington Road Rugby ground and the classrooms were in effect in the open air.

The stand to the left of the main gate, only demolished in recent times, was used as a classroom with the desks positioned on the stepped floor of the concourse.

Daisy suffered  from Asthma and as I too was an asthmatic my Mother said she could not cope with us both so Daisy was billeted elsewhere.
It all went quite well, but like so many when the air raids failed to materialise, the evacuees drifted back to the East End. Rosie went too.
Later we had a young boy from Owens Schools who used the facilities in the afternoons only, at the Bedford Modern School.
Eventually, we became home to a number of young women who worked at Bletchley Park.   
Their hours were often anti social as the work entailed 24 hour manning and they sometimes walked to St John's Station as early as five o'clock in the morning. Their hours were often anti -social as the work entai"eo(
WAAF, WRNS and civilians staffed the Park and we had all of these services billeted with us at various times. It was not just in Bedford but towns such as Bicester and Buckingham, which housed the thousands, who worked at the Park.
Bletchley itself at that time was little more than a hamlet.
This was a lively and outgoing time in Bedford with so much going on.
Life was very much an adventure for people thrust into new environment with others from every different class and occupation.
We, of course, got to know quite a number of the American boys from the Thurleigh airfield   one or two of whom were never to return from the  vulnerable daylight raids that the Eighth Army Air force undertook from there and other stations in Eastern England.

It was a very friendly   time and I well remember my Mother and myself cycling out to the airfield where we were treated in style to the sort of food,which for us in wartime was a luxury.
Also I can recall clamouring   over the inside of a famous B17 Flying 
Fortress and   indeed sitting in the tail-gunners seat .Now it would never be allowed with today's security but this was a less sophisticated time.

We were all a close knit family -my Mother did the washing- for one of the Thurleigh servicemen to whom she gave a key to and it was nothing to find him sleeping in our armchair when we came in.
In fact I stayed with his family in Louisiana in the Seventies as my Mother corresponded frequently with his wife.
Bedford became truly International there were Poles, Free French and other nationalities to be found in our midst.
For one as young as I was at the time, these were amazing times, etched in my memory forever.                                                    John Turner
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