ROBERT FINCH

Civilian

Summary 

Robert was an evacuee during the war with his sister June, they had a hard time with the family they were put with but with the help of a caring teacher things got better for them.

Place and date of birth

28/10/1931

Lived in Westcliff

Connection to Southend 

Story

My Dad Robert Finch (Bob) and his sister June were evacuated from Westcliff to Kent. My Aunt had special needs and it was Bob’s responsibility to look after his sister. Dad recalled feeling he was embarking on an adventure when he, his sister and hundreds of other children boarded the train.

When they arrived, they were lined up in a hall and selected presumably by visual preference. Due to June’s appearance they were last to be chosen, which in itself must have been upsetting. They were to stay with a couple who had an older son whom from the onset made it clear that they were not wanted.

The son forced them both into an empty bath, threw pepper over them and put the lid down on top of them. He teased my Aunt relentlessly and hit my Dad when he defended his sister. This continued at School and the boy encouraged others to pick on Bob & June, they were seen as outsiders. My Dad was fiercely protective of his sister so often got involved in scraps. On one occasion the son punched Bob so he retaliated and got the better of the bully. When they got home the lady asked what had happened. Bob said that her son had hit him first but her son denied this and so Bob got punished.

His parents were uncaring and neglected the evacuees – they often went hungry and on one occasion June and Bob slept in a field because the couple, who enjoyed a drink, got so drunk they locked them out. My Dad woke up that morning with a cow licking his face. They were both so unhappy and desperate to return home. Bob decided to write a letter to his Mum. He did this every week but never heard back – after three or four weeks it dawned on him that the lady where they were staying had not posted the letters.

Dad had the common sense to speak to his teacher who suggested he write again and this time give her the letter to post. This she did and within a week my Nan and Grandad came to collect them. That was a very happy day.

Tracy from southend in sight

Main image courtesy of Dean Trotter

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