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Cornwall wartime evacuee reunited with childhood sweetheart

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

  • Former evacuees Stuart Money and Anne Vaughn at Trewithen House and, left, the letter containing his marriage proposal to her.

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AFTER 70 years, this was the moment a wartime evacuee to Cornwall was reunited with the little boy who asked her to marry him.

Anne Vaughn presented Stuart Money from Trispen with the marriage proposal he slipped her at the age of 9.

The pair were brought back together by author Margaret Hutchinson, who tracked down Anne through the Evacuees' Reunion Association and Stuart through his cousin, Trewithen estate owner Michael Galsworthy.

"This is one e-mail I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would be writing," wrote Anne to her childhood suitor on January 17, 2009.

Now 80, she travelled from her home in America to Truro with a love letter from Stuart in hand.

"Answer this letter please – when shall we marry," he writes to Anne, then 12 years old.

Anne, then Anne Gray, but known as Sheila, was evacuated from Kent in 1944 when V1 flying bombs started falling.

She and her younger sister Jill were taken in by Michael's grandparents George and Alison Johnstone at Trewithen, also home to US troops.

Anne said: "Elizabeth (the Johnstones' eldest daughter) was taking us down to the beach at Portholland and Stuart passed me a note – a proposal which also asked me to bath with him; I think he meant bathe.

"I don't think I responded."

Stuart admitted he didn't recall her specifically: "I do have clear recollections of the evacuees and time spent with them, obviously getting to know them well enough to propose to one of them. I wonder how we managed to elude her chaperone."

Anne said returning to the house where they, other sets of sisters and new mothers with young children were sent, brought "happy and special" memories flooding back.

"The train journey seemed to take all day," she said. "We passed white hills I thought were pyramids and was later told were china clay tips.

"We arrived late at night and that was the only time I came through the front door. The driveway was so long, and Trewithen was the biggest house I'd ever seen.

"We lived in the servants' quarters at the top of the house and used the back stairs," she said.

"At nights we used to dash along the long corridor between the bathroom and the bedroom because they said the bats would get you.

"My most memorable Christmas, without question, was here in 1944. The Johnstones had the biggest tree ever, and there were presents for us all."

She remembers being chauffeur- driven in a Mercedes to the cinema in Truro to see Song Of Bernadette, the butler 'Milly' cycling to Probus School to give the children their lunch, and the gramophone with just one unbroken record – Tiptoe Through The Tulips.

After about eight months she was moved to Bodrigy House near Cadgwith on the Lizard.

"After the war we didn't speak of our evacuation," she said. "I hated my return to London; it was so dirty and bombed. Everything was so different.

"I had two other sisters and a brother born during the war who I didn't really know. It was harder for me to go home than to be evacuated."

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