Joan Zilva

Text Box: An  account of a 14 year old’s WW2 overseas evacuation based on her letters home




Text Box: He was invalided home.  As I said earlier in these letters, his leg was broken as he was thrown from a tank.  He did not fight again.  He always had a limp, and suffered from bouts of malaria for some years, but was otherwise OK.
Text Box: Got the year wrong again!
Text Box: Of course, these warnings were not heeded.  I became self-conscious about my accent and irritated at being treated like a child .
Text Box: ie perhaps it was meant to read “Consent Joan’s return immediately [when] reservation granted”.

Text Box: It is a great pity that I had to, but I suppose the immigration officials had to check information coming and going.
Text Box: In fact it was more than either.
Text Box: Girls were not allowed to wear trousers to school!  If there was a strong wind against us when temperatures were very low our legs suffered.  On the other hand, boys had short hair and if they didn’t wear earmuffs could provide an interesting study: the ears started white and progressed through various shades of purple, blue and pink.  Naturally they couldn’t (or certainly shouldn’t) study our upper legs! 
Text Box: Already referred to.
Text Box: Of course, the Royal Free is one of the then many Medical Schools of London University.
Text Box: I was beginning to get cold feet!  It was a big readjustment.
Text Box: “Queer” in the sense of “odd”.  I didn’t know any other, and “gay” still meant “happy” or “cheerful”.
Text Box: I’ve always been a bad sleeper.
Text Box: The Peets were neighbours and I would still have thought she was past it.  No IVF then!
Text Box: One letter seems to be missing after this.  There should have been one on April 25th.  I never missed writing weekly.  Could it have been sunk even at this stage of the war?

Text Box: This upset me terribly.  Rosemary burst into tears.  I said nothing and showed no emotion, but just went to my room.  I can’t think how they could have done it.
Text Box: Miss Turner was a teacher at Croydon High School (CHS) and our Guide mistress.  I don’t know what suddenly inspired me to write to her.
Text Box: This was the last letter from Canada.  One afternoon later in the week I was studying at school when one of the teachers came to tell me to go home at once. Of course, I (and they) knew what it meant.  As I rode back in the pouring rain I thought that the weather couldn’t be any worse at home.  I had been indoctrinated to think that  it always rained in England.

I only had about a day’s notice. Mrs Bartlett took me clothes shopping and I completed my packing.  I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone for security reasons, but I did say goodbye to Miss Hubbs and Lu, Ed and Carol.

When the time came for me to leave to catch a train to Montreal, where I had to change trains for Halifax, I had mixed feelings, to some extent the same as when I left the Hays.  What I had awaited for so long had come to pass but, having been in Canada for nearly three years, I was going to have to readjust again to what was now a strange country.  I had to remake friends. New and different exams  awaited me.  I had no real doubts, but couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. 

I left, as ever, showing no emotion but in a turmoil.  I left behind the War Bonds I had saved for the Bartletts 
Text Box: Date wrong again!
Text Box: I think these must be the photos referred to in the broadcast. I can find no other reference to them. Dave did me more than justice—unlike his opinion of Miss Groves’s efforts.
Text Box: This happened on May 7th.