David C. Willacy, of Sedgwick, recalls evacuees arriving in 1939

AS A child just starting Crosscrake primary school in 1939 life appeared safe and peaceful. In the autumn war was declared with Germany (WW2) and invasion was a real possibility. All the road signs were taken away to confuse the enemy.

Everything was rationed and our lives changed. All available manpower was directed into the forces or to government works.

Our father, a carpenter, had to go to Silecroft to work on the secret new atomic site (now Sellafield), travelling on his Norton motorbike on a Monday and returning on a Friday.

One evening mother, my sister and I had to attend an emergency meeting in the village hall. Most of the ladies, numbering 25, gathered in a large circle on the floor.

Soon the main door opened and in trooped two adults and about 30 children boys and girls, aged between five and 13 years of age.

They were Geordies, transported from Tyneside by train to Oxenholme Station and then by bus to Sedgwick (this was repeated all over the county).

The children were mainly from the town of South Shields – all had a gas mask around their necks and a paper parcel tied up with string containing their spare clothing etc.

The children were lined up in families or on their own. The question was asked: “Could you take two siblings or just one?”

The dwellings in the village were fairly small, two up and two down. There was no running water or toilet facilities in most of the houses – the ‘privy’ was down the garden.

Crosscrake school doubled in size within a day.

There were three classrooms with two teachers. Thankfully, two new teachers accompanied the evacuees.

The school was busy and thriving, the playground echoed with strange voices and for a while it was very much us and them.

Father returned from Silecroft to look after the animals, as our grandfather had a stroke.

Father was then made the ARP Warden (Air Raid Precaution). One evening, he took my sister and I out in the darkness to check if the blackouts restrictions were being observed.

That night he took us onto a nearby hill top to see the explosions across the bay at Barrow-in-Furness. We could hear the Luftwaffe flying above, and again on the return journey to German Airfields.

It was probably about two years before the children started to return to their bombed-out towns.