On 1 September 1939, Pam and Judy Crisp were evacuated, along with their classmates at Eltham Central School, to Deal in Kent. They were 13 and 11 years old respectively.

Alfred Crisp

Alfred Crisp

Letters from home, Judy remembers,

We were going to travel by train, and the excitement of the train ride allayed fears of leaving home to some extent. However, on arrival in Deal, the reality of the situation dawned. The children, labelled with their names, each clutched their one small case and a square cardboard box containing a gas mask. We were all clustered together waiting to be selected by the noble people who had agreed to look after evacuees. Whilst others were taken to their homes it seemed a very long time before our time came. Our carers had no children of their own, but were on the whole very kind to us. School was part time – half of each day being spent in a church hall or other venue, where we did needlework or art.

On 3 September, we heard on the wireless that war had been declared. We walked to the sea front and found many other people had done the same thing. It was a lovely sunny day, but we felt very strange and wondered what was in store.

When Deal got too close to the action, we were moved again, this time to South Wales.

The sight we most enjoyed was to see a letter bringing news from home, which arrived in one of these illustrated envelopes, painted by my father Alfred Crisp. My father’s letters included more small humorous drawings of things that had happened.

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 During The Second World War, he was a firewatcher in East Dulwich, London, complete with stirrup pump. From his rooftop vantage point he had a few close calls with shrapnel. Firewatchers were responsible for taking the first actions should an incendiary bomb explode, using buckets of sand and stirrup pumps. Some companies would ask employees to sleep overnight on the premises to act as firewatchers.

In the First World War, he had served as a driver with an AA unit, encountering many dangers, including being gassed at Ypres. His diary of his war experiences shows that he used his abilities to make the best of awful conditions, with plenty of jokes about the cooking!

He was a multi-talented man and could keep children amused for hours with stories and tricks. He had shown a talent for art at an early age, but was in a professional capacity as a window artist for the Bournemouth Gas Company. He was also to have a cartoon accepted by Punch Magazine. Between times, he would do sign writing to earn extra money.

He died in December 1950, aged only 58, his First World War experiences contributing to his poor health and early death.