Page last updated at 20:58 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 21:58 UK

'Guernsey guests' return to Glasgow for reunion

WWII evacuees
Hundreds of children were sent from Guernsey to Glasgow in 1940

World War II evacuees sent from the Channel Island of Guernsey to Glasgow are returning to the city for a special reunion this weekend.

More than 1,300 children from Guernsey were evacuated to Glasgow in 1940 to escape the invading Nazi forces.

A special exhibition telling their story is being held St Ninian's Church in Pollokshields.

It will be attended by 40 former evacuees, who will also go to a Thanksgiving service and reception.

The event has been organised by Ann Morris, who was born in Edinburgh but became interested in the evacuees' story when she moved to Guernsey more than 30 years ago.

She said: "I became aware that those who had been involved were obviously advancing in age and there was a real danger their story would not really be told."

Some of them will meet up with old school friends they have not seen for 70 years
Ann Morris
Exhibition organiser

After an initial reunion was held for evacuees in Guernsey last year, Ms Morris began putting together an exhibition of their stories and photographs and organised the trip to Scotland.

She said: "One woman told me it was her lifelong dream to return to Glasgow, to the people that had been so warm-hearted and kind, and in the days that she was so far from home, had made her feel very much at home.

"Some of them will meet up with old school friends they have not seen for 70 years.

"I've also had a letter from a 91-year-old woman who was a nurse that looked after some of the children in Glasgow and got her parents to take in one of the evacuees."

The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by Germany during the war.

St Ninian's Church in Glasgow was one of the reception centres where hundreds of evacuated children, who became known as the "Guernsey guests", were brought when they arrived in the city.

'New life'

Among the evacuees was 13-year-old Elvira Warren Lepage.

Her son David Hunter, 57, a chartered account from Glasgow, will be attending the exhibition and church service.

He said: "My mother was from a family of 13 children. But they were not evacuated in families, instead it was done by their school classes.

"They were put on the train with one day's notice. They were allowed to take very little. Each had only two vests, two pairs of knickers, two pairs of socks and a couple of toys."

Evacuees with hostess
The evacuees were taken in by 'host' families in the city

Elvira was taken in, along with two other children, by a women called Effie Clutterbuck and her husband Dr Douglas Clutterbuck and went to live with them in Newton Mearns.

After the war she returned to Guernsey but her mother had died when she was very young and her father had also since passed away.

"When she got back she actually thought 'this is not the life for me'," said Mr Hunter.

"She had formed very strong links with the southside of Glasgow and had made a lot of friends at the school she went to.

"I think she may even have met my father before going back to Guernsey, and she just decided her new life was here."

The exhibition will tell the story of how the evacuees, aged between five and 14, adapted from the countryside and calm beaches of Guernsey to dealing with the bustle of city life in Glasgow.

Mr Hunter's mother passed away two years ago but he said the evacuation experience left a huge impact on her life.

"It obviously had a profound effect on her," he added.

"She had a quite a lot of psychological problems in later life which I think were all to do with the fast evacuation from all that she knew.

"I think she felt sort of disinherited a little bit."

The exhibition at St Ninian's Church is open to the public between 1000 and 1700 BST on Friday and Saturday.

Print Sponsor

WWII evacuees' Scottish reunion
17 Oct 09 |  Guernsey

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