Ty Croes Mawr

Evacuees

It was early in 1944 the last year of World War Two that my mother decided to evacuate us all. Hitler had developed the Flying Bombs, and it was the final straw for my mother, so we packed our bags, and decided to go to Wales. We had relatives on the Gower Peninsular, on my maternal Grandfathers side. Mother invited a neighbour to come, so off we went. We took a train to Reading, and had to stay in a school hall for the night, and then the next day we set off on the Great Western for Wales. We had lots of stops and starts, and we were billeted in several places, although everyone we met was very kind. Our family consisted of my mother and seven children myself being the eldest at fourteen and a half, and the youngest four years. Mrs Lee our neighbour had one son, two daughters the elder daughter having two small sons of her own. Mrs Lee's husband was in the army and our dad was in the Royal Air Force. We eventually arrived at the end of the line Pwllheli, the station staff there did not know what to do with us, and offered us free tickets to go back home, which my mother declined. They found another school hall for us to sleep that night, and the next morning we were taken to a hotel on the front overlooking the sea. It was lovely, there was a matron employed to make sure we all behaved ourselves. Mrs Lee and her family were found a cottage in Criccieth, we had a few more weeks to wait, when we were told a farmer Mr Griffith Jones had a cottage in a place called Rhiw. Meanwhile, my mother had written to her one other sisters Sybil back in Hayes Middlesex, telling her that somewhere had been found for us to stay. Auntie Sybil arrived with three children, the eldest three and a half the youngest six weeks, she also brought along with her another of my mothers sister's, auntie May who brought with her my Auntie Ivy's children Clifford, Glyn and Keith a baby of nine months.

We could hear the foghorn on Bardsey Island when we arrived at Ty Croes Mawr, it was a very misty morning (sea mist). Now you must remember Mr Jones was waiting for a mother and seven children to arrive, so you can imagine how surprised he was when from two taxis out tumbled three women and thirteen children!!! "DUW ANWL" he exclaimed. Mrs Jones was waiting to welcome us into the two up two down cottage. We were all longing for the toilet so Mrs Jones took us to a small side room where she showed us one large and one small bucket that was the toilet. In the main downstairs room, a lovely fire was burning, with the biggest kettle I had seen hanging on a chain, there was also a lovely smell of home made bread. There was no running water so Mrs Jones showed us where the pump was and that was the task given to me. My brother Raymond, sister June and auntie Sybil, two buckets one each side and one in the middle, six in all, no where near enough for so many children and so many nappies to wash. We were nicknamed the "Water Tribe" by the people of Rhiw. There was no electricity and so we lived by oil lamps and candles for light, we made our own entertainment, singing mostly.

We were awakened on our first morning by a beautiful cockerel and many other farm sounds chickens, geese and cows. We were frightened to go outside, we had never seen chickens running loose. Until he got used to us the gander terrified us. Our mi1k was supplied by the dairy farm Penarfynydd, run by Miss Evan and her brothers, we had an assortment of bottles to collect it in, we could also buy home made (delicious) butter sometimes. The village store was owned by Mr Robert Griffiths and his young daughter Elsie, it was also the local Post Office. There was a bus that ran once a week to Pwllheli, the drivers name was Ishmael if I remember rightly. We children did not go very often but it was a treat for mum and the aunties. I forgot to mention earlier Mr and Mrs Jones could not speak English, and Mr Jones used to come to Ty Croes Mawr everyday to work in the fields and tend the livestock he said he had never had so many cups of tea in his life. My brother Raymond and the younger children went to the village school, much to Raymond's disgust!! He is still remembered for his exploits even today!! We older children soon found ways to help, letting the heifers out into the field, and calling them in, in the evening, they all used to come into the cowshed and into their own stalls. There were lots of sheep. One day Mr Jones brought in a baby lamb for me to take care of, I was used to looking after human babies, but he was much more demanding, but I loved him, eventually though he had to go back to the flock. One of the ewes had lost twin lambs and Mr Jones fitted my lamb with the dead lambs coat and the ewe took to him quite quickly, but if ever he caught sight of me, he would run away from the other sheep, to follow me. I was known after that as Mary. Another memory was when coming back from a walk, I found Queenie the mare. She had suffered a miscarriage, a foal complete in its birth bag. I was scared of horses but managed to be brave and open the stable door, to let Queenie in, and then I went along to Tyn Llidiart for help from Mr Roberts. After staying at Ty Croes Mawr for three to four months, for the rest of the year auntie Sybil and her three children went to stay with Mr Owen Owens at Bryn y Fran, much more modern than Ty Croes. A large brick covered water tank that caught rain water, no more trips to the pump for auntie Sybil and me. Also a primitive outside toilet luxury compared to Ty Croes Mawr. Auntie Sybil worked for Miss Evans cooking and looking after farm workers at harvest time. It was a lovely summer, and a cold winter, but we enjoyed ourselves, looked after the children and gave Mr Owen Owens his lunch.

Peace was won over Germany in May 1945 and we all returned home to Ashford and Hayes in Middlesex. I returned for a holiday in 1949 and stayed at Ael y Bryn with Mrs Morris, who became a good friend to me. After that the years seemed to rush by, I visited Shop y Rhos, Bryncroes, to see Mr and Mrs Jones and was made very welcome, the next visit was over 40 years later, Mr & Mrs Jones had sadly died, but we were welcomed by the family as if it had only been a week.

It is a true saying there is always a welcome in the hillsides of Wales. This story is dedicated to Mr & Mrs Jones and Family, Lizzie, Jack, Evan, Hugh, Lloyd, Miriam, Macca, Nellie, Gwefryl, Beryl and Emsyl.

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Many thanks to Evelyn, for sharing her memories.

Many thanks to Yvonne, for the photographs.

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