Olive Obbard

Recollections of evacuation and becoming a children's nurse.


In 1939 Olive was twelve years old and lived in Catford. She was evacuated with her school to Aldington near Ashford, Kent. They were told that the evacuation was just a practice in case of an emergency. When they arrived they were each issued with a tin of corned beef and a tin of condensed milk. Olive recalls that the villagers were surprised to see a group of well dressed, uniformed school girls wearing Panama hats, rather than the group of scruffy boys from the east End which they had been expecting.

Olive was billeted with a middle class family, which she believes had a lifelong impact upon her in terms of her aspirations. During the evacuation of Dunkirk, Olive recalls going along with her host to Ashford station to cheer the troops travelling from Dover: 'We plied them with chocolate and newspapers, all we could obtain at the station.  The soldiers looked exhausted and dirty, unlike some of the film representations shown in war films'.

With the threat of invasion in the summer of 1940, the children were evacuated from Kent to Wales.

Becoming a children's nurse

Aged fourteen Olive returned to Catford, where she gained employment with the Cable and Wireless Company. Two years later she began training as a children's nurse at day nursery.  The nursery was run by Lewisham Borough Council 'on hospital discipline lines with a Matron, Sister, Staff Nurses and Probationers. Full uniform with caps! This was a two year course with lectures on all aspects of child care, exams both written and practical'. When she was eighteen years old she was promoted to the position of Staff Nurse.

Lost teenage years

When the war ended in 1945 Olive was twenty years old. She feels that people matured quickly during the war years and did not have the opportunity to enjoy their teenage years. Olive also recalls the sense of normality which prevailed after the air raids – 'You just came out of the shelter in the morning, got washed and carried on as normal'.

Olive met her husband Jim in the early months of 1944, whilst he was on leave for three days. They met in a pub and have been married for over sixty years. '[Jim] is still [the] love of my life'


Letter written by Olive Obbard
Letter written by Olive Obbard (49k)
To read more about Olive's wartime memories in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 17/04/2012.