As I ponder what it would be like to be taken from your family as a child it leaves me with a gut wrenching feeling that is hard to describe.
During the last World War when England was under siege from the Nazi forces, the government of England sought places to ship children where they would be out of danger from the terrors of war.
The Lindsay Rotary Club sponsored what was known as the "Rotarian Families" in the Lindsay area back in 1941 and four children arrived sans either parent into a town where they did not know anyone or what lay ahead of them. They were the Whitley children, Tom age 12, his brother Ray 10, and sisters Sheila 7 and Ida, 4.
Frightened children, taken away from their parents and not knowing if they would ever see them again and, unquestionably their parents felt the same way about their offspring. Oh what a traumatic experience it must have been for all involved.
It must have been hell being shipped across the Atlantic with Nazi submarines lurking about looking for Allied ships to attack for we, in Canada, read about sinking's on all too frequent occasions.
As for the Whitley children who arrived in a totally strange country with different customs and with little luggage and name tag attached to the little tyke, were very fortunate in that they were placed in the homes of wonderful caring people. Thomas was welcomed into the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Mackey Sr., Ida (now deceased) lived with the Vroomans, Sheila lived with Mr. and Mrs. Alf Perrott and Ray found a caring home with Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Webster who had a farm in the Oakwood area.
The Whitley children also found it somewhat difficult in that they were placed in different schools; Tom at Central, Ray at the South Ward school and Sheila, the North Ward School. Of course the little one was too young to attend school.
Prior to the war ending, Tom returned to England in March of 1944 where he joined the Royal Engineers and served in Italy and Austria. He had received some of his training with the 2nd Battalion Midland Regiment in Lindsay prior to returning home.
As to what became of the Whitleys, we have learned that Tom is living in Grimsby, England; Ida unfortunately passed away many years ago; Sheila now lives in south Lincolnshire. Through great effort she has been successful in locating John Perrott who is now living in Beeton, Ont. and they are now corresponding with each other.
Regretfully, Ray, who was living in Spain, had been ill for some time and as recently as this past July, passed away.
It would appear that their mother died several years ago and as for their father, he lost his life in a motorcycle accident.
The Whitleys still have a soft and loving spot in their hearts for their "Canadian parents," the Lindsay Rotary Club and the Town of Lindsay.
If any of our readers can help them locate past acquaintances they would be dearly indebted to you.
This story makes one feel how fortunate we, as Canadian children, were.