Sunday, July 10, 2011

Before the Last all Clear




Review by Nancy


If you were a child in World War II Britain, it’s quite possible that when you arrived at school on a normal day in September of 1939 you were greeted with a note to be taken home to your parents immediately. Over 3 million children were evacuated from Britain to Wales, Canada and even the United States. This is the story of one evacuee and his family and you’d best get tissues now.

Ray Evans was one of nine children in a home in Liverpool and was 6 years old when he and his older siblings were shipped off to live with volunteer families in South Wales. Ray’s dad broke the gas meter in the basement to get money for shoes for his children to wear on the train. They were happy kids but certainly not wealthy. He was told to stay with his oldest sister but, upon arriving in Wales they found girls went with girls and boys with boys. Ray and his brother Frank went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Jones while the girls went to live with a Mrs. White who immediately welcomed them with open arms.

Mrs. Jones, not so much. It was her husband’s idea to take in two evacuees and she never let the boys forget it. An obsessive compulsive person, she had a strict schedule and God helps the person who interfered! They ran away from her and were them sent to a Mrs. Simmons and her two sons who made Mrs. Jones look like the Virgin Mother in comparison. Ah well…

This book made me cheer for Ray and his brothers and sisters and also broke my heart. This isn’t any “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” evacuation story. This is real and should be read by any student of World War II, history in general and any advocate of children. Ray did good in writing this and three cheers to Morgan James for publishing it!

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