Jean Slattery

Evacuation to Egham

Jean Slattery talks about being evacuated to Egham.

Understanding the war

Jean Slattery talks about understanding the war as a child.


Jean Slattery recalls the upheaval caused by war.

Wartime recollections of evacuation.


In 1939 Jean was six years old. She lived in Chelsea with her parents, brother Peter and sister Pamela. Just before the outbreak of war, the children were evacuated to Egham, Surrey. In Egham, Jean and her sister were billeted together and Peter was sent to a separate address. The day war began Jean was at church when the siren sounded. Everybody panicked and Jean was relieved when the all clear sounded. She misunderstood, thinking that this signalled the end of the war and that she could go home.  

A temporary return 

During the war Jean and Pamela returned to London. As Pamela was old enough to work and their father was ill their mother needed extra financial income. Their host was unable to care for Jean without Pamela’s support, so she returned home temporarily with her sister. This was during the height of the Blitz. She had seen the devastating effects of the raids from her bedroom window and her experiences during her return had a profound effect upon her.

'Come on kids...don't hold up the war'

Jean went to North Holmwood to stay with her aunt and uncle for the rest of the war and has happy memories of her time there. When army troops passed by the school the children were allowed to watch and cheer them on.  At dinner time they could not cross the road to go home. The local policeman asked the proceedings to pause and the soldiers all stopped to let the few children pass by. One joked ‘come on kids ... don’t hold up the war’. Aged eleven, Jean returned to London. Her mother felt that it would be better for her to attend a secondary school closer to home. This coincided with the introduction of the V1 and V2 rockets.  The school was next to a power station and so was heavily targeted.

Family life

War had an impact upon Jean’s family life. Social and class disparities became apparent, affecting her perceptions and creating tension when she returned home. Her ‘own family were all ... Londoners and they considered that we were... a little bit sniffy by then...which of course we were’. During the war years her father died, her sister married and her brother joined the army. The family structure was altered. However, Jean feels that she had an ‘easy war’ and many of her experiences were positive.

Evacuees Reunion Association

Due to her involvement with the Evacuees Reunion Association Jean has shared her wartime memories with schoolchildren, allowing her to discover how they interpret the war. Whilst organising a memorial in Torrington her emotions were aroused when she overheard somebody discussing the evacuee they had hosted from the ‘slums’. Jean feels that the implication that children from London were dirty and ill mannered is an offensive misconception.


Interview with Jean Slattery
Interview with Jean Slattery (265k)
To read the full transcript of Jean's interview please press the above link.

Evacuation to Egham
Evacuation to Egham (48k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Slattery.

Understanding the war
Understanding the war (43k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Slattery.

Upheaval (46k)
Transcript of audio clip with Jean Slattery.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 14/03/2012.