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Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Thursday, 9 September 2010 15:36 UK
Fleeing the Blitz: From Liverpool to north Wales

By Alys Lewis
Merseyside families sent their children to live over the Welsh border to escape the Blitz but, 70 years so, they recall their new homes weren't always safe from German bombs

Children
Children carrying gas masks were evacuated to north Wales

September 2010 marks 70 years since the German Luftwaffe began what was to be an eight month bombing campaign targeting British cities.

Outside London, one of the worst hit areas was Merseyside which saw more than 4,000 people killed.

Many people chose to move over the border to try and escape the worst of the bombing though some, like Hazel Formby, found rural Flintshire wasn't always as safe as they'd hoped.

"After experiencing the early raids over Liverpool we left to seek a new home as near as possible to Ysceifiog, my grandfather's birthplace," she said.

"We stayed with friends in Rhes-y-Cae, then at Lixwm before settling into our own home in Ysceifiog.

"We were in Rhes-y-Cae on the night of 9 January 1941 when a very heavy raid took place on Liverpool.

"We always knew when Liverpool was being bombed because there was an ominous glow in the north sky.

We thought we were escaping the London bombing but were bombed in Bwlchgwyn just the same
Evacuee Gwenda Lewis

"The aftermath of this particular raid was partly played out over Flintshire. Bombs were dropped on Halkyn Mountain and the school, chapel, institute and several houses were damaged in Rhes-y-Cae.

"On 1 June 1941 bombs fell in Babell, Lixwm and Ysceifiog. Three fell in a field at Groesffordd Farm between Lixwm and Ysceifiog, damaging buildings."

Writing on the BBC's WW2 People's War website, Eileen Milligan remembers being evacuated from Liverpool to Cyffylliog, near Ruthin.

"We arrived at Cyffylliog at night and were taken to a basement room in the chapel to be chosen by ladies who were willing to accept us. The rector's wife chose me and another girl.

"In Cyffylliog everyone spoke Welsh. People didn't speak English to us, therefore, we had to learn Welsh so that we could understand what was going on!

"I remember visiting the nearby farms, helping in the fields at harvest time - stocking sheaves of corn. The combine-harvester moved from one farm to another.

Farming
Helping out on the farm was a new experience for children from the city

"I learned to milk a cow (after squirting it all over at first) and it was lovely to ride a horse for the first time.

"The war was still on when I returned home and we still had to go the air-raid shelter during raids although it was not as dangerous as it was during the Blitz.

"I will never forget my time in Cyffylliog and only wish I could recall more details."

Gwenda Lewis was was evacuated to Bwlchgwyn, near Wrexham, from London during the war.

"We stayed in the village from 1939 to 1943 but we didn't return to London until 1947 because our house in Hampstead was bombed in the Blitz.

"We thought we were escaping the London bombing but were bombed in Bwlchgwyn just the same," she said.

In a letter to her father she wrote: "Last night a German plane was up, and the wireless was on so we did not hear it, and all of a sudden we heard BANG! BOOM! THUD!

"Two bombs fell in the field in front of Brythonfa, and Nebo's windows have got a few small holes."

For more wartime stories from north east Wales take a look at the WW2 People's War archive.




SEE ALSO
When bombs dropped on north Wales
08 Sep 10 |  History

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