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Description

This video combines the audio clip from an oral history interview with Bea Green: 'Arriving in Wales' and images. It was created by December 2021. 

The audio clip is from an interview with Maria Beate (Bea) Green, recorded by the Imperial War Museums in 1999. In the clip, Bea discusses her experience of being evacuated to Wales.

Transcript.

However, when we were evacuated, most of the school did not come with us. In the end, I think, we were only about twelve or thirteen or fourteen children that got onto this train to Wales, because the school had rented or pre-empted the rent – whatever they did, I don’t know – of a house in Wales. Presumably the Creighton-Davies were Welsh, Welsh origin, so that would have been a natural thing for them to do. So, we got onto this train to Welshpool, from there to be taken, I don’t remember how, to this farmhouse called Mathrafal – and a friend of mine told me the other day, it still exists. So, we went to Mathrafal near Welshpool. Now, on that train journey was another period of fear, because as I said before, I wasn’t afraid when the bomb fell, I wasn’t afraid when I was cut – it just didn’t bother me, I mean, you know, you…you get into the cellar and you’re alive and that’s all that matters. But when we were sitting in a train, either with no lights on or with the blinds down, going through town, through town after town with sirens going, and you felt trapped in a train, that was real… – that was scary, I mean, I was actually really frightened. But then we wound up in Wales! Now, two things: A, it was wonderful to be in Wales, I adore Wales. The Welsh adored me in principle because I wasn’t English – those Welsh that I met, you know, there’s a problem between Welsh and English sometimes. And I loved it because the war was far away, and while we kept the blackouts, it was sort of a perfunctory thing to do, but, I mean, there were no aeroplanes, nothing. However, the farmhouse was haunted. Now, I do not believe in ghosts, intellectually I don’t, but – there were funny bangings going on in this house. Again, I was sort of reading a bedtime story to the little ones, and there was this thump, thump, thump. And one of the little girls cried, and I said, “No, no, no, no, it’s just the headmistress poking the fire.” Well, it was nowhere near the fireplace – they didn’t know that. And the headmistress said, “I can’t stay in this house, it’s haunted!” So, what the truth of the matter is, I don’t know, but it was…it was creepy. So, she found a very modern house, probably thirties-built thing, where three of us had to sleep in one small double bed…having to rip to sleep end-on, so the one who slept in the middle never had any cover at all, [be]cause the other two sort of stretched it over her. But, well, we survived that too, and then she found a big house to rent, called Bryn Gwalia Hall near Oswestry, and that was a bit rough in the sense that this was winter, and there were…there was not a stick of furniture in this place, and she managed to organise a cooker, and the local carpenter made us beds out of bits of wood that he made into legs and chicken wire. And we just had blankets, and of course, it was terribly cold, so I put my blankets on the floor instead and slept on the hard floor with the blankets. And in due course, I guess we must have got beds, and anyhow, spring came, and the bluebells came out and the daffodils, and I had become a company leader for the guides, so I’d joined the girl guides, and I’d…I’d passed umpteen badges by then, even before we left.

Maria Beate Green - a short biography.

Bea Green was born in Munich, Germany in 1925. She lived in a block of flats in the city with her father who was a lawyer, her mother and older brother. Bea attended the local primary school and had a happy life.

In March 1933, her father was brutally beaten in an antisemitic attack. Even after this terrible event and with Hitler now in power, initially Bea’s family had mixed feelings about leaving. Her father had built a successful legal practice and they had an agreeable life. But in 1938 Bea’s school was closed and after Kristallnacht things became increasingly more dangerous and desperate. The family knew they had to do everything they could to get out. Eventually, in June 1939, Bea travelled to Britain on a Kindertransport leaving her parents behind. She was taken in by the Williams family in England.

After the Second World War started, Bea was evacuated to Wales where she stayed for some time. Eventually, several years later, she was reunited with her parents. She settled in South London with her husband and three children and had a career as a linguist and translator and would speak to groups about her experiences.

Images: Attribution.

1. Llangedwyn noble old house belonging to Sir Watkin Williams Wynne. Painting by John Ingleby, 1795.

Image: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales.
Creative Commons Licence: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/.

2. Mathrafal farmhouse.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Image author: Roger Gilbertson: https://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/6184.
Creative Commons licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en.

Sources.

IWM, Green, Maria Beate (Oral History) [accessed 22 December 2021]

John Ingleby, Llangedwyn noble old house belonging to Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, 1795, watercolour, 315 x 243 mm, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales [accessed 29 December 2021]

pixabay [accessed 22 November 2021]

pixabay [accessed 22 November 2021]

pixabay [accessed 22 November 2021]

pxfuel [accessed 22 November 2021]

Wikimedia Commons, Entry To The Earthworks (2021) [accessed 22 November 2021]

Depository (audio file): Imperial War Museums, catalogue number: 19796.

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