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Do you remember Oliver as a young lad at Norfolk farm?

Oliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian Burt

Oliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A wartime evacuee has been reliving wonderful memories of his time at a Norfolk farm where three spinster sisters used to bathe him and his two brothers.

Oliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. With Pat Cubitt., who owns the barns. Picture: Ian BurtOliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. With Pat Cubitt., who owns the barns. Picture: Ian Burt

Oliver ‘Mac’ McSweeney, now 90, loved the 18 months to two years he spent at Manor Farm in Lower Bodham, near Holt, from 1939 to 1941.

And he returned with his wife Vera, 89, and daughter Brenda, 62, to spend a few days at the site, now known as Manor Farm Holiday Barns.

One of the buildings particularly brought back resonant memories.

He said: “That was where were all deloused when we got here. There was straw on the floor.

Farm workers engraved their names into the brick work inside one of the barns at Manor Farm during the Second World War. Picture: Ian BurtFarm workers engraved their names into the brick work inside one of the barns at Manor Farm during the Second World War. Picture: Ian Burt

“And I remember the big kitchen. I have fantastic memories.

“We were evacuated two days before the declaration of war. I was 11, my brother Ernest was about 13, and John, who was very clever, was eight. We would have a laugh. It was us three boys together. I was one of nine kids.”

The brothers left Dagenham on the Golden Eagle boat and arrived in Gorleston.

“It was the first time we had seen the countryside. We were so poor that our parents could not afford a day’s holiday. We had to put cardboard in our shoes.”

Oliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian BurtOliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian Burt

While many child evacuees cried when they left, he never did.

He added: “I just wanted to get away. There were lovely people at the farm. I remember the farmer Herbert Platford and the Culleys, Alec and Ralph, brothers, and the sisters, Ada, Flo and Blanche, who would bathe us once a week, which we enjoyed, being young boys.

“We went to Bodham school which was about half a mile to walk to. It was very small with just about 40 children. I remember one bitter winter with snow drifts and nothing could get through.

”I can still see the people now. There was Tuck, who looked after the sheep. He always wore a long overcoat. There were the pigs and ducks, which we had never seen before.”

Oliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian BurtOliver McSweeney (90), here pictured with his wife Vera (89), has returned to Manor Farm Holiday Barns in Lower Bodham, where he was evacuated during the Second World War. Picture: Ian Burt

Out of this world grew his love of the countryside, and the couple retired to East Anglia, and now live in Lowestoft.


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