From East End to Land's End
is the story of the World War Two evacuation of Jews' Free School (JFS) in the East End of London to Mousehole. In June 1940, about 100 JFS children and five of their teachers, together with thousands of other London evacuees, embarked on the lengthy train journey from Paddington to Penzance. The JFS group was bussed to Mousehole, where the children were billeted with the villagers, and Jews' Free School, Mousehole, was established in the premises of Mousehole School. Arrangements were made for synagogue services to be held in the church hall of a nearby village, while many of the evacuees also attended chapel with their foster families, most of whom were strong Methodists. Remarkably, most of the evacuees quickly integrated into village life, and were accepted by the villagers as their own.
They were introduced to swimming, sailing, sculling, fishing, and mending nets, and spent hours playing on the beach or walking along the spectacular coastal paths. The extraordinary coming together of these two vastly different communities was a life-changing experience for many involved on both sides.
Seventy years on, some of them have been able to tell their stories, sometimes with tears, often with humour, and always with love and affection. Told for the first time, this unique story of mutual love, acceptance and integration is an inspiration to modern society. What is particularly poignant about this story for the author is that at the very time these children were travelling south-west to love and safety in Cornwall, her own Aunt Sonya, together with thousands of other Jewish children, travelled on a train going in exactly the opposite direction from Paris to Auschwitz, where a very different fate awaited them.
The book is based on extensive interviews with evacuees and villagers, as well as on historical research. It is richly illustrated with personal photographs and mementoes, historical documents, newspaper articles and delightful drawings by Steph Haxton. It is further complemented by rare, atmospheric and beautifully contrasting archive photographs of Mousehole and the Jewish East End.