Dodkin, Fred (b.1927)
Born in Millwall, a twin, and the youngest of eleven children, Fred went to the Isle of Dogs School in London. In September 1939 Fred was evacuated to Wells with his twin sister and younger nephew. The forty children from the Isle of Dogs School shared Wells Blue School premises, so Fred was billeted in Wells. He and his sister returned to London in November 1939, but were bombed during the Blitz and so returned to Wells with their parents in 1940. Fred left school at fourteen and worked in W H Smith. After finishing his National Service Fred worked for Pauls the decorators for forty years.
Evacuee at Williton Station. Evacuee at Williton Station.
Sound File
Listen to Fred Dodkin - 1.94MB Duration 3:21 min.

FD: War was declared in 1939, in September, it must have been, it was that day ...September 9th was it? Or the 3rd, or something like that. It was very close to the early part of September, and we all had to leave. The school, all who had to be evacuated, were sent on to the train.


JT: So it was the entire school?


FD: Yes, it was in school, most of the school.


JT: Not families, but the school?


FD: Yes the school. We each had our gas masks and a little label on us to tell us who we were and where we’d come from. When we got on the train, ‘cause that was when we came to Wells. We were identified by the label you had on you.


JT: Which station did you come to?


FD: We came onto the Great Western Railway station, the Great Western, which is the Tucker Street station, which they’ve pulled down now. There’s a little garage there now which is Mr Nicky Capell, Capell’s garage is built in that yard now. Also the Snooker Club is built in the yard and there’s also another big motorcycle shop which has been built in the yard there were the trains used to pull in there.


JT: So they put you on the train?


FD: Yes, they put us on the train and we came down here.


JT: That was in September?


FD: That was in September, yes. The very beginning part... I think they were organised really for to take the children away if the war was declared, if you see what I mean, in the inner London area that was.


JT: So how many were there of you?


FD: Well, there must have been, I can’t remember, but there must have been about forty of us, I expect – children. It wasn’t the entire... I don’t think it was the entire school because it wasn’t a very big school mind.


And we got off at the station and we went into what is now the... Wells Blue School used to be in where the theatre is now. That used to be part of the school. That was the Wells Blue School. That was the boys’ entrance, then they had a gymnasium there and the girls’ was the other end, if you see what I mean. Before they became Comprehensive.


FD: That was later on, must have been ’44, probably ’43/’44, ’cause I remember playing football. We used to play football against them down the rec. They used to send a team from the German prisoner-of-war camp, used to play football. When I was a boy I was a good footballer, I’ve got lots of... I would have been a good footballer if I had had a chance, in East London when I was just coming away. I was going to play for East London Boys when I was... I loved my football and I loved my cricket too, but I’m afraid I can’t play it any more.


JT: Now you were playing football against the Germans instead?


FD: That’s right. In the recreation ground very often... on a Sunday afternoon.


JT: Did you mix with them?


FD: We saw some there, yes, they were nice chaps.


JT: Did you talk to them at all?


FD: Not very much, no. They would be kind of rushed away and they would be gone after the match. We didn’t talk very much, no... those in charge of them.  I think we had a cup of tea or something like that, we might have done. That was in the Bishop’s Barn. We used to open that up and use it like a kind of a dressing room, undress in there and then come out and play football.


JT: What did you feel about it?


FD: The Germans?  I don’t think we liked them all that very much. We didn’t like them very much, no, I don’t think. But they were good sportsmen and when we played them, we thought how good sports they were, they were good sporting men. I was only about 17 then, I suppose. 17 or 18.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Jeanne Thomson in 1989. Photograph ©SMES. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.