Rita Lewis

A practice run

Rita Lewis talks about being evacuated in 1938

Arriving in Ely

Rita Lewis recalls arriving in Ely in September 1939 and the process of being allocated a billet

Sunday School

Rita Lewis talks about anti-semitism and having to attend Sunday School despite being Jewish

A rural life

Rita Lewis talks about life in the countryside

Recollections of evacuation to Ely and life on the Home Front in East London.


In September 1939, Rita Lewis was, at the age of nine, evacuated with her thirteen year old sister, Sue, from the East End in London to Ely:

‘On arrival we formed a line and walked from the station to the local primary school. All around the walls of the school hall were long benches where we were told to sit. We were given stamped postcards and told to write home to our parents and tell them where we were...Gradually children were chosen and went off to their new foster homes. Sue and I were left until almost the last as no-one wanted two sisters’.

Eventually the sisters were billeted with Mrs Cooper and her adult daughter. But their stay was short as Mrs Cooper in December 1939 decided that she would rather have soldiers billeted in her house than children. Before their return to London in April 1940, the sisters stayed in two billets. The sisters were treated well by both the Henson and Parsons families.

Returning to Ely

When the aerial bombardment of London began in the summer of 1940, Rita and Sue were once again evacuated to Ely. However, as a suitable billet for both sisters could not be found, Rita and Sue were separated. Rita was billeted with the Hitches, a large family with five children, and was well cared for until she returned to London towards the end of 1942.     

Putting on a show

Back in London, Rita quickly began attending a local school. During the school holiday in the summer of 1943, Rita was along with friends encouraged by her cousin Phyllis, whose husband was fighting in North Africa, to put on a show and collect money for the Army Benevolent Fund.

‘The six of us planned and rehearsed a concert. The stage we used was the bombed out shell that had been the Yasheim’s house. The floor, side walls and ceiling were intact but there were no front walls, door or windows. We strung a curtain across the gap and devised a show consisting of songs sketches and comedy routines. Harold made a wonderful Hitler’.

The show became somewhat of a success and the show was given a three page spread in a pictorial magazine. In addition to receiving many letters and monetary contributions towards the cause, the group also received ‘a very large box of stage costumes sent to us by a woman who has been a chorus girl on the West End stage’.

Rita stayed in London for the remainder of the war and celebrated the end of the war on Trafalgar Sqaure.


Memoirs written by Rita Lewis
Memoirs written by Rita Lewis (141k)
To read more about Rita's wartime experiences please press the above link.

Interview with Rita Lewis
Interview with Rita Lewis (213k)
To read the full transcript of Rita's interview please press the above link.

A practice run
A practice run (120k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

Arriving in Ely
Arriving in Ely (130k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

Sunday School
Sunday School (133k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

A rural life
A rural life (133k)
To read the transcript of the audio clip please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 24/04/2012.