Olive Collins

Wartime memories of evacuation and life on the Home Front.

Olive Collins (nee Truby) was eight years old when the Second World War broke out in 1939. She heard the King and Prime Minster, Neville Chamberlain, announce the sombre news via radio broadcasts. Whilst she did not understand the serious nature of events at the time, her parents did, particularly her father, who had served during the Great War, and who was appointed as a fire fighter during the Second World War.

Olive, her parents and her two older sisters, Joyce and Elsie, lived in St George’s buildings close to Bond Street.

An unhappy evacuation

Olive and Joyce were evacuated – they were driven to Yarton, Oxford, by their father and were provided with a name label and a gas mask each. The sisters were upset at leaving their family and were billeted to a Mrs. Bemont, who was unkind to Olive and Joyce. They enjoyed attending the local school but were generally unhappy whilst evacuated. When their parents discovered that they were being mistreated they were taken home after six months, and Olive refused to be re-evacuated.

Life on the Home Front

Shortly after Olive and Joyce returned home the air raids began. Olive attended school and ran home when the sirens sounded. The family hid under the table until all was clear, before returning to lessons. During some raids the family sheltered under a block of flats and collected their rations from soup kitchens.

Whilst Olive was still of school age during the war years, her sisters and father worked in factories. When the war ended in May 1945, she was 14 years old and wanted to celebrate in the streets, although this was cut short by her sisters who felt that Olive was too young to do so.

Media representations

When considering the accuracy of post Second World War media representations of the conflict, Olive considers that the experiences of the majority can never be captured through dramatization. Films such as ‘Hope and Glory’ are not representative of her unpleasant recollections of evacuation. When Olive’s grandchildren ask her about being evacuated she tells them that whilst she can recall her memories they will never be able to fully experience the feeling and emotions which she had.


Olive Collins
Olive Collins (42k)
To read more about Olive's wartime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 15/01/2012.