THIS month marks 80 years since hundreds of evacuees from the Channel Islands arrived in Bury during some of the darkest days of the Second World War.

In last week’s Bury Times we shared the first part of the incredible recollections of Noelle Bigwood (née Mignot) ­who was evacuated to Bury with her two sisters in 1940.

After travelling from their home in Guernsey, the girls were taken first to Burnley where the spent a fortnight staying in a school before they were moved to Greenmount.

On arrival the sisters were taken to Greenmount village school where the schoolrooms were filled with children and local residents who were willing to take in evacuees.

Five nuns took 35 of the children to the nearby Hollymount convent, including Noelle’s sisters Nell and Marguerite ­— but not Noelle herself.

This was unusual as families were typically kept together, and the separation left Noelle “devastated”.

She was instead asked to go with a Mrs Sheldon and her “lovely Airedale dog”.

It was at this point, Noelle recalled, that for the first time since she had started her journey, she began to cry.

“All I could think of was that I had my sisters’ clothes in my haversack and what would they do without them where were they going,” she said. “I was utterly devastated.

“I was assured that they weren’t very far away, but I was inconsolable with them going.

“And that was when the whole enormity of the situation hit me and I felt so, so, alone.”

Despite her anxieties, however, Mr and Mrs Sheldon were “so kind”, Noelle said, and it was not long before she had settled in.

The evacuees were educated at the village school which was run by nuns and had two classrooms ­— one for five to 10 year olds and another for 10 to 14-year-olds.

During the war the school suffered from a lack of books and had few writing materials. Noelle even recalled being taught geometry by using chalk symbols on the school playground.

But the children also enjoyed many concerts, learnt poetry and took nature walks by nearby fields and streams ­— where they dug for pignuts and picked beechnuts.

During the summer holidays the children would take walks with a packed lunch in the Pennine Hills, led by an elderly villager named Mr Rooney.

They would also take day trips to a disused mansion in Bolton-by-Bowland and holidayed at Parkgate on the Dee.

At wintertime the children would play in the snow in their clogs and for one Christmas the nuns made all the girls a dolly from scraps.

However, life was not always easy for the evacuees.

Over the years many of the boys sent to Greenmount attempted to run away, but were thankfully always returned safe and sound.

There were also the always ever present dangers of the war, as the North West was a prime target for German air raids.

Noelle said: “Us children who were billeted in the village below the convent would walk home across the golf course and down on Long Lane, and were always told that if we heard an aircraft overhead to immediately lay down on the ground.

“The most vivid air raid in my mind was the one near Christmas in the early years of the war of the 1941 or 1942 and it was over Manchester.

“Where I lived in Station Road the siren sounded at night we go across the road to Mr and Mrs Scholes who had bunk beds put into the cellar and we would sleep in them until the all clear was given.

“We could see the Manchester sky in the distance about 12 miles away. I could hear the hundreds of aircraft flying overhead. It was a sight and sound I can recall clearly.”

At Christmas 1943 Noelle turned 14 and had to leave school and go to work.

She was sent to work at the Savoy Cafe and bakery in Bury and took the train to and from Greenmount every day until she had saved up enough tips to buy a bike.

“One advantage of working was that despite having to give something towards my keep I was still able to save a little and used to take Marguerite and Nell to visit Bury, usually by tram from Tottington,” Noelle recalled.

Bury Market was one of the girls’ favourite stop-offs, where they would treat themselves to oatmeal cakes, cooked black peas, Bury black pudding and honeycombed tripe with salt and pepper and vinegar.

Noelle and her sisters remained in Bury until the Channel Island’s liberation in 1945 and returned home “with great excitement” in June of that year ­— almost five years to the day since their arrival.

Although Noelle still remembers her “awesome experience” and the kindness she received in Bury with the greatest fondness, the realities of being a Second World War evacuee were beautifully encapsulated in one of her anecdotes.

One day while in Greenmount Noelle had been walking back from the dentist when her sister had asked her if they had passed Guernsey.

She recalled how she had had to tell her sister “no”, but later wrote in her diary article: “One day we really will be going to Guernsey and I will be taking my sisters with me.

“”North, East, South or West, Home is best.””