Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Tuesday, 21 September 2010 12:23 UK
Evacuee from Gloucester to revisit London WWII shelter

Toni Holmes
In 1940 Toni Holmes was shipped away from Gibraltar into the heart of London

A woman from Gloucestershire is to revisit the London hotel where she was evacuated during World War II.

In 1940, when millions of women and children were being sent to safety in the countryside, Toni Holmes was shipped in to the heart of London.

Now, 70 years later, Toni is spending the weekend at the Royal Garden Hotel near Kensington Palace - her first stay in the building since leaving at the age of six.

"When the war broke out we were living in Gibraltar", said Toni.

"All the women and children had to leave the rock because they needed it for military purposes.

"A lot of us went to London, filling three hotels, but others went to Jamaica, Ireland and Madeira."

I remember my brother and sister taking me to Hyde Park to play, until the sirens went.
Toni Holmes

Joking that they were moved to London as "targets", Toni was fortunate enough to spend the four years with her parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, cousins and even neighbours from Gibraltar.

This won't be the first time that she has seen the modern-day hotel as she paid it a brief visit three years ago.

She spoke to a few members of staff but found that "no-one knew anything about us being evacuated there".

Now she's going back to spend a bit more time refreshing the memories and stories that have been shared around the family for many years.

She was only two years old when she was shipped to London but she has a few memories of her own.

Evacuee children, pictured here at the station, preparing to leave London for the safety of the countryside
Nearly 3 million people were evacuated to places of safety in the countryside

"I remember my brother and sister taking me to Hyde Park to play, until the sirens went," said Toni.

"Or going into the underground shelter which is the car park now for the hotel.

"[Also] one of my aunties picking me up to look out of the window to see the ferocious flames from the building that was bombed next door to us.

"We were very lucky that no-one got hurt."




SEE ALSO
Glos in the Battle of Britain
15 Sep 10 |  History
Return of evacuees after 70 years
15 Jun 10 |  Cornwall
Evacuee group founder remembers
01 Sep 09 |  Nottinghamshire

OTHER RELATED BBC LINKS


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific