Devoran, World War 1: as in many Cornish communities, Belgian refugee families were looked after in the Feock Parish area.
This creation of a temporary home and friendship began again in 1939 with a new wave of refugees and evacuees. Not only foreign servicemen were welcomed into the area, many children found a brief period of safety in Devoran from the bombing of London, Plymouth and other cities at risk of the Blitz.
Devoran, WW2: On the Francis Frith website there are memories from George Burton, a WW2 evacuee who stayed with his sisters with various kind Devoran families – the Hoare, Cook, Toy and Eddy families.
“I was evacuated in 1939 to Devoran, and was billeted with a family by the name of Eddy, my three sisters and myself. We were only there for about two months before we were all taken down with scabies. We all went off to Perranporth isolation ward, we were all kept in hospital until we were better, and then went back to Devoran on a bus, it stopped outside the school.
We were all lined up outside the school, when a nice lady came up to me and asked if I would like to go and stay with her, she told me she had two sons and a daughter, and lived on a big farm with chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and without giving it another thought I said ‘Yes please’. They were a lovely family and looked after me like I was their own. I lived with them for four years.
[Blog Editor’s note: This farm family appears to have been the Hoare family mentioned in the next section. Members of the Hoare family are mentioned in the Home Guard blogpost ].
When I went into the army to do my two years National Service I received four parcels a year from them. Two of my sisters went to a family named Cook, they lived down by the river, and my other sister went with a family named Toy. I have kept in touch ever since, Mr and Mrs Hoare have since passed on, as too the daughter and the eldest son, Doreen and Ken, Rex is the only one left and we still keep in touch with each other.
The picture (on the Frith archive) brings back wonderful memories of those terrible years we all had, I must say mine were made a million times better having lived for four years with such wonderful people. I could go on but I think I should leave it for another time.”
A memory shared by George Burton , on Jan 16th, 2009. Source: Francis Frith website. I have contacted George to hear more and permission to quote his story here but have yet to hear back from him.
On the Shire on the Web 2000 newsletter http://www.shire.org.uk/shire.php?edition=344 Bristol History website, there is a photo of evacuee pupils from Shirehampton School, evacuated from the Bristol and Avonmouth area when bombing raids started in 1940/41. The names of the known evacuees are Vic Mitchell, Angus Macleod and Tommy Beecham.
On the BBC People’s War website are WW2 memories (Article ID:
A4325122) from Nicholas John (‘Jack’) Green of Carnon Downs:
“The first lot of evacuees were London Irish Catholics. We had two boys billeted with us about the same age as my brother, Jim, and I. They were called Terry & Patric O’Carrol.
Later we had Plymouth and Bristol children in the area and there were many children for the school at Devoran so we local children went to school in the mornings and the evacuees in the afternoons. This didn’t do much for our education, but we had half a day off every day.”
Newspaper archives contain photos of a Nativity play put on by Evacuee pupils at Devoran. Several London schools including a Roman Catholic School were evacuated to the Devoran area.
Sadly there is also a WW2 newspaper report of the local billeting officer having to fine and make an example of an unnamed householder in Devoran, one in St. Agnes and mention of similar billeting problems in Chacewater. This is all presumably for not making evacuees welcome or being honest about the space they had available.
Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, February 2016.