Wartime stories and memories shared by former evacuees at Lowestoft reunion

Lowestoft Evacuees Committee members enjoy catching up at its summer reunion. Picture: David Hannant

Lowestoft Evacuees Committee members enjoy catching up at its summer reunion. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

More than 70 years ago, they lined train carriages in their hundreds as they were carried away from Lowestoft to safer grounds.

Now, all these decades later, they sat side by side once more - some for the first time since Second World War.

In what has become a twice annual tradition, stories were shared and knowing glances exchanged as the Lowestoft Evacuees Committee held a summer reunion.

Former pupils of several schools in the Lowestoft area reunited in Stella Maris Hall on Saturday, 77 years and one day after they boarded trains to the Midlands and evacuated as the town braced itself for aerial attacks.

Their destinations may have varied - some went to Glossop, Clowne and Shirebrook, while others to Worksop - but their warmth towards one another was the same. For some this was another opportunity to catch up but for at least two, it was the first time they have spoken since the war ended in 1945.

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John Chase and Keith Bellward, both 85, went to the same school in Lowestoft - Lovewell Road - and the same school in the evacuated homes of Glossop, Derbyshire. However, this reunion was the first time they have met since.

Mr Chase said: 'This was my first reunion but it definitely won't be my last. Keith was an old school chum of mine and it's been lovely to catch up with him and share some memories. I have many happy memories of my time in Glossop.'

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Mr Bellward added: 'I've been to about half a dozen reunions and it is always really nice to catch up with people.'

This year's reunion was particularly special for 10 of the former evacuees who attended - on June 2, the day before the reunion and the anniversary of the train's departure, these members were treated to a trip back to Glossop, retracing their wartime journey.

At the station, a plaque and information board commemorating the journey was unveiled and members were able to revisit the town where they spent their evacuations.

Both the reunion and the trip were made possible by Chris and Janet Brooks, who have dedicated the past 27 years to creating these trips down memory lane.

Mr Brooks said: 'People love to keep up-to-date with each other's news and reminisce, so I'm really happy we can make that happen.'

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