In November 1943, the people of the South Hams were evacuated from their homes. The explanation below reveals how this was done and the information they received.
4th November 1944
The Chairman of the Devon County Council, Sir John Daw, was ordered to requisition an area of 30,000 acres. This included the villages of Torcross, Stokenham, Chillington, Clackawton, East Allington, Slapton, Strete, Frogmore and Sherford. It also included 180 farms and many small hamlets. It affected 750 families and totally 3000 people.
12th November 1944
Notices having been posted, the first public meeting was helt at East Allington. The following day, further meetings were held at Blackawton and Slapton. People were ordered to leave their houses and farms which in some cases families had occupied for many generations, taking with them all their possessions including farm animals and pets.
There was very little protest as this was a time of war, but it was difficult for the elderly to understand, especially the farmers who had to leave crops in the ground, knowing that there was a desperate shortage of food in Britain.
NOTICE SENT TO EVERY HOUSE IN THE AREA
THIS GIVES YOU IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND ADVICE. PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY
FIRST OF ALL fill in as fully as you can the enquiry form you will find with these papers. There is a space provided for your special problems; use it and write on the back if you have not room in front. A WVS representative will come to collect the form after 4 days, and will, if you ask, help you to fill it in. If you come to the Information Centre before the form has been collected, bring it with you.
INFORMATION CENTRES will be set up at Stokenham (for the Parishes of Stokenham, Slapton, Sherford and Buckland Tout Saints) and at Blackawton (for the Parishes of Blackawton, East Allington, Woodleigh, Halwell, Stoke Fleming and Strete). They will be open daily from 9.30am to 6.00pm. You will find there officers, who will be able to advise and help you, whatever the difficulty may be. Do not hesitate to make the fullest use of your Centre. Take your little worries there, as well as your big ones. But you must go to the Centre to which the Parish in which you live has been allotted. Whether you are going to move yourself, or whether you are looking for us to move you, fix as early a date for your departure as you can. Of course, you would like to stay in your home until the last possible day. But those who go first are going to get the best accommodation and the best transport, so don’t wait for the rush, the hurry and the discomfort of the last few days.
HOW YOU CAN BE HELPED
On all questions concerning compensation about which you are not clear you should consult the Admiralty. They have offices at both Information Centres, and wherever possible an Officer will visit you and give you any explanations you require.
You should endeavour at once to find other accommodation for yourself and family outside the area (of which the boundaries are given at the end of this note). If you find it impossible to make your own arrangements in this way, the Local Authority will find you accommodation outside the area, but they can give no guarantee of an unfurnished house or rooms and it is almost certain that compulsory billeting in an occupied house will be necessary. If you have special difficulties due to your being unable to find accommodation suitable for invalids, expectant mothers, old and infirm people, you should say so when filling in your form and should consult the Information Centre as well.
If you are provided with accommodation for yourself and family in an occupied house, whether by your own arrangement or by the authorities, the householder will be entitled to a billeting allowance at the rate of 5/- per week for each adult and 3/- per week for each child under the age of 14. This billeting allowance will be payable for TWO WEEKS without recovery but if the payment of the allowance is continued beyond two weeks, recovery will be made from you up to the full amount of the allowance, according to your financial circumstances.
If you are making your own arrangements to share accommodation with relatives, friends or other family outside the area, you should apply to the Information Centre for the issue of a certificate authorising the payment of billeting allowance.
The reasonable cost of all necessary journeys will be paid to you, and owners of vehicles of any kind may use them freely for the removal from the area of their families, furniture and effects or those of their neighbours. If you have a motor vehicle which is unlicensed, you can obtain from the Information Centre a special certificate which will enable you to use it for the above purposes within an area for a period which will be entered in the certificate. You may also use your private car to go to the Information Centre, or to make reasonable journeys outside the area in connection with accommodation, storage or employment.
In all these cases you can obtain petrol coupons from the Information Centre. Cars can also be made available by the Information Centre to take you on necessary journeys. During the first fortnight you will be able to make your own arrangements for the removal of your furniture with a furniture remover or other carrier (of which the reasonable cost will be repaid to you). In this way you will be able to arrange your move to suit your own convenience. After this fortnight all transport is likely to be controlled, and will then only be obtainable through the Information Centres. All applications to the Centres should give full details of the time and place at which transport is required, the load (eg contents of a four-roomed cottage) and the destinations. Transport will then be provided according to a planned programme designed to secure speed and economy.
If you are going to store your furniture you should make arrangements with a repository outside the area. If you cannot find storage room there, come to the Information Centre, and arrangements will be made for you.
Every help will be given you by the War Agricultural Executive Committee at Blackawton including assistance in the removal or disposal of your stock and of your cattle food and other farm produce, and in making arrangements to enable you to complete your threshing and lifting your roots.
6. FARM WORKERS
If you work on a farm, or do any other work actually connected with farming at Blackawton, you should consult the representative of the War Agricultural Executive Committee who will find you work. You should not go in search of work yourself, but if you do find a new farm post of your own you should tell the War Agricultural Executive Committee at once.
7. OTHER PERSONS SEEKING EMPLOYMENT
Should consult the representative of the Ministry of Labour at the Information Centre.
A representative of the Ministry of Food or the Board of Trade will visit you as soon as possible, and will make arrangements for the removal and disposal of your stocks. If you keep a food shop and wish to move at an early date (ie before your customers have gone) you should at once inform the Food Executive Officer, Kingsbridge Rural District, of your intention.
9. RATION BOOKS AND INDENTITY CARDS
As you will be changing your address it will be necessary in due course to amend the particulars on your ration book and identity card. You should enquire at your local food office or at your Information Centre how you should proceed.
Your License will not be extinguished by the closing of your houses. It will come into force again on your return.
Elementary school children will attend school at the places to which they move. The parents of children attending secondary schools shold inform the Information Centre. Individual arrangements will be made to enable them to continue their studies.
12. PENSIONS AND ASSISTANCE
Give in your form particulars of pensions or any form of monetary aid received by any member of your household. Representatives of the Assistance Board will visit all persons in receipt of supplementary pensions and will deal with any case in which urgent financial assistance is required. Arrangements will be made for the prompt payment of Old Age Pensions at the post office of the place to which the pensioner has transferred.
13. POST OFFICE SERVICES
The post office will make arrangements for the prompt forwarding of letters and will deliver at your house a re-direction card to be filled up. At the same time, you should be careful to notify your change of address to members of your family, especially to those who are serving in the Forces.
Any attempt to charge you unfair rent, or to profiteer on transport or storage charges, should be reported at once to the Information Centre, and in the case of rent, to the Local Authority concerned.
THE AREA OUTSIDE WHICH YOU MUST SEEK NEW ACCOMMODATION
From the sea at the east end of Blackpool Bay in Stoke Fleming parish, along the Hemborough Post road to Hemborough Post. Then along the Dittisham-Halwell road from Hemborough Post to the crossroad a quarter of a mile east of Halwell village. From this crossroad along the Kingsbridge road to the Woodleigh-Buckland cross roads. Thence along the road Buckland-Frogmore-Woodleigh-Buckland crossroads. Thence along the road Buckland-Frogmore-Chillington and to the sea at Beesands (but excluding the village of Beesands) The parishes involved are the whole, or almost the whole of Blackawton, East Allington, Sherford, Slapton and Strete and a part of the parishes of Stoke Fleming, Buckland tout Saints, Stokenham, Woodleigh and Halwell.