Troubador The Evacuee or Sins and Comeuppances

BBC West Midlands

BBC Hereford and Worcester

Released: 01/10/2012

ISBN: 9781780880181

Format: Paperback

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The Evacuee or Sins and Comeuppances


The Evacuee is for those who know ALL about the 1939-45 war – and for those who should know about it

September 1939: five year old Frank is evacuated to Staffordshire – so that Hitler can bomb Birmingham.

During the allocation of billets at the village hall, the evacuees are haphazardly assigned good, bad and even evil placements. Frank’s new guardian is an unhappy woman who hates his enforced presence in her home. She scorches the naked boy before a roaring fire; applauds her bully of a son when he brands him with a red-hot peashooter, and she teaches Frank to dread irregular bath days – when his head will be held under the water to the point of drowning. For the next three years young Frank tries to avoid her nastiness by staying small.

At school, although the city kids blossom under Father Daniel’s gentle guidance, they are venomously subjugated by a fearsome nun teacher, the ‘Black Cow’. The antipathy of the Staffordshire village is superficial though. Some memories will remain with the evacuees forever, like the memories of school, church, helping on the farm, brass bands, pig sticking, the people, the canal, friendships and adventures in the ‘foreign’ countryside – as they survive, laugh, play and grow up.

They will also remember the comeuppances – including one final, shocking event.

Shropshire Star

Historical Novel Society

New Books Magazine

Express and Star

When Ken Chadwick was evacuated at the start of the Second World War, his life was turned upside down. He talks to MARK ANDREWS from the Express and Star Newspaper about his new novel based on the experience

THE train arriving at Aston railway station was bound for Staffordshire. As far as five-year-old Ken Chadwick was concerned, it might as well have been the moon.
"They were packing us off to Staffordshire, so Hitler could bomb Birmingham, he says drily. "It seemed a million miles away from everything I knew."
Like thousands of children across the industrial heartlands of the West Midlands, young Ken was evacuated to the countryside at the start of the Second World War. The factories which had made Birmingham and the Black Country the workshop of the world were now crucial to Britain's defence industry, and as such would be prime targets for the Luftwaffe. It is an experience which has stayed with Ken for his entire life.
And now at the age of 79, he has decided to record his emotions on paper - in the form of a novel based on his experiences. The Evacueee: or Sins and Comeuppances, is a bittersweet account about sadness and the joys of a small boy being taken away from home. He stresses that it is a work of fiction, but it is all based on experiences that he went through during his three years as an evacuee; the kindliness of some people, the cruelty of others, and the survival instinct prevalent in children of a certain age, which means they can adapt to whatever life throws at them.
Ken, who served for 12 years in the Royal Navy before forming his own construction firm, hopes that the book will strike a chord with other people who went through similar experiences. While other stories about life of the evacuee paint idyllic pictures of a carefree childhood, while the adults busy themselves with the concerns of the war, his book is a bittersweet tale of highs and lows, which he says reflects his feelings at the time.
"People say they went to live on a farm and had a wonderful time, spending the summer in the fields, but that wasn't my experience," he says.
"I was not a happy child, and three years seemed an extremely long time, but at the same time it was not all bad."
He talks about the troubled woman who took him in, scorching him before a roaring fire, and encouraging her own son to brand him with a red-hot pea shooter. She taught him to dread bath days by holding his head underwater.
"But then the happy parts were things like plum picking, watching the fire brigade putting out fires, scrumping apples and adventures around the farms and the canals," says Ken, who now lives in Tenbury Wells.
"And being a child of that age, certainly at that time, is that you don't know anything else. You think it is normal, and you survive."

by Express and Star

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