Married couple from Lowestoft recall how they met on wartime train of evacuees
- Credit: Nick Butcher
When two young sisters were sent from Lowestoft to Chesterfield in June 1940, little did they know that it would lead to a remarkable sequence of events that would change their lives forever.
Former Gorleston Road School pupil, Mary Draper (nee James) was five when she boarded the train at Lowestoft with sister, Violet, aged three – who was the youngest of more than 3,000 children to travel to the Midlands.
Mrs Draper said: 'We were given special dispensation as our dad was in the Home Guard. Vi and I were evacuated with our school and we were taken to Barlborough, near Chesterfield.
'But Vi cried all the way up there.'
As they sat on the train, and younger sister Violet became more and more upset, Mrs Draper recalled: 'She cried all the way and it was then that I met my future husband.'
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Ten-year-old Owen Draper introduced himself and helped to comfort Vi – and that first-ever meeting later would eventually lead to marriage, after Owen and Mary kept in touch.
'It was the first time I ever met my husband,' Mary said.
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Recalling the sisters' arrival in Derbyshire, Mrs Draper said: 'A lovely couple took us into their home – Mr and Mrs Bacon. They had no children and we called them Auntie Bee and Uncle Bob. We were very lucky. They treated us so well and we practically were their daughters.'
Admitting that when the war ended it was difficult to leave Derbyshire, eventually Violet went back to live with Mr and Mrs Bacon, and she remains living in Chesterfield today.
Mary and Owen married, and they still live in Lowestoft today.
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