THEY came in long lines, the people of Southampton spilling out of the bomb-ravaged town, anxious to find shelter for their families.

All day long the roads leading out of the port, which had experienced two of the most severe raids of the Second World War, were crowded with homeless families seeking the comparative safety of seaside and country.

Soldiers travelled on the outward-bound buses to prevent them being overcrowded.

Every type of vehicle was used to remove people and their belongings.

Hundreds walked, pushing prams laden with household goods, and bicycles on which mattresses had been tied.

During the morning loudspeaker vans toured the town’s streets, advising the evacuation of women and children, and appealing for the strictest economy in the use of water and electricity.

The transport problem was almost without parallel. Long before the morning had passed it was impossible to hire a taxi, or, indeed, any other kind of vehicle.

Hants and Dorset buses carried many loads of passengers,which made peacetime Bank Holiday figures look silly, and a skeleton train service from suburban stations was in operation.

Over two days a total of 1,400 people were transported by corporation buses from Southampton to the nearby countryside.

A total of 140 Southampton evacuees went as far as Bournemouth, where the local authority was able to find everyone comfortable beds and provide them with meals.

Those who stayed behind in Southampton headed for communal rest and feeding centres, which were established in all parts of the towns, such as Regent’s Park School, Avenue Church Hall, Polygon Baptist Church,Central Hall, Itchen Secondary School and Ludlow Road Schools.

The homeless did not remain at the centres any longer than absolutely necessary as they were transferred to rural areas in Hampshire, from where they were taken to billets.

Despite enormous handicaps, all of Southampton’s communal kitchens were able to provide at least one hot meal a day to everyone staying at the shelters.

A cook told the Daily Echo at the time: “On Sunday we were able to serve roast beef, boiled and baked potatoes and greens for midday meals. Boiled dinners or stews are being provided on other days.

“We are serving bread and butter and corned beef for breakfast, and bread and butter, cake and jam for tea.’’

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