Joe recalls with fondness his time in Euxton as war evacuee

Joe Gingell, sitting on the bench, and his family  in a studio in Fulham in August 1940, shortly after arriving in London
Joe Gingell, sitting on the bench, and his family in a studio in Fulham in August 1940, shortly after arriving in London
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Joe Gingell has contacted the Guardian to share his story of being evacuated to Euxton during the Second World War.

He left Gibraltar with his family during the Battle of Britain in July 1940 and travelled to London.

They stayed there until the onset of flying bombs in June 1944, when the British Government decided to move the Gibraltar evacuees to safer places.

Joe said: “Towards the end of June 1944, my family received the news that we were being transferred to Chorley.

“I was already six years old and I remember that when we were waiting for the train at Euston station to take us to Chorley, the air raid siren was sounded and we took shelter in the nearby underground. After what seemed to me like an endless journey, we arrived at Euxton during daytime.

“We got off the train and walked across a field to the huts where we were going to be lodged for about a month.

“The place consisted of rows of some sort of bungalows on the outskirts of the town, not very far from the railway lines.

“I have been told that the place where the huts were built is where Washington Hall is now.”

The Gibraltar evacuees used to mingle with workers from the nearby Royal Ordnance Factory.

Joe said: “They were mainly women who wore wooden shoes, similar to the Dutch clogs, and their hands were usually stained with some sort of yellowish powder.

“I found out that this yellowish stain was because of some chemicals normally used to make gunpowder and that the wooden shoes were worn to avoid the risk of any sparks through friction.”

Joe and his family only stayed in Euxton for a few weeks, but he still has some very happy memories of the area.

He said: “Some of the evacuees, like my mother, managed to travel to Preston for shopping goods that could not be obtained in the village.

“I also remember playing by a nearby pond where there were some frogs.”

The family travelled from Chorley to Greenock, in Scotland, where they embarked on a converted liner/troopship, the Stirling Castle.

They arrived back in Gibraltar on August 1, 1944.

Joe spent six years researching the evacuation from Gibraltar for a book.

He found a vast collection of material, including more than 500 pictures showing the different destinations where the Gibraltar evacuees lived.

The book was published to raise funds for cancer charities and he has already handed over more than £30,000.

He has sold more than 2,300 copies, with his book in libraries in Northern Ireland, London, Madeira and Scotland.