TWO brothers have retraced the journey they made as child evacuees, 80 years after they were packed on board a train to escape bombing in the Second World War.

Barry Gooders, 87, and his younger brother Gerald, 85, pulled into Brighton Station yesterday, just as they did as boys aged seven and five in 1939.

The train carried a group of parents and schoolchildren in wartime dress, who posed for photographs in the Victorian station.

Girls and boys from Downs Junior School, Brighton, wearing flat caps and smocks stood with gas mask boxes strung around their shoulders.

Barry stepped from the train and stood beside his brother.

“He lives in Hove, I live in Brighton and we’re lucky to be alive,” he said.

“When I say to parents now, ‘would you send your child to an unknown place with an unknown family for an unknown length of time’, they look at me as though I’m mad.

“But that’s exactly what 3.5 million people had to do during the Second World War.

“It was the first time the civilian population had been targeted.”

Barry said the journey made him think of his own wartime experience.

In 1939, The brothers left their South London home in Thornton Heath for the relative safety of Brighton.

Barry said yesterday: “I feel very nostalgic. It’s something I can’t quite put my finger on – it’s remembering that this is what I did.

“Just like when we did it, the children were bubbly and excited. It was like a day out. The enormity hadn’t occurred to us then.

“The mood became more subdued when we were separated and sent to our different families. I was lucky, and ended up in Bevendean Crescent. We didn’t live a life of luxury, and we didn’t expect any luxury. But my mother would come to visit on a Sunday, and she sent us letters.

“She would promise new shoes or a new coat, and showed how many kisses you could put on a piece of paper.”

Standing with their gas masks, knitwear and brown name tags beside commuters and a 21st century train, the model evacuees looked out of place. Barry said: “It’s like nothing we know today. There were supplies being delivered, bombs dropped, and children evacuated. Now, you’ve got to look at the news of wars across the world to see what it was like.”

After they were dropped off at the station, the Downs’ children travelled by bus to a model air raid shelter at their school. They hunkered down in the bunker and had a brief glimpse of what the two brothers might have felt 80 years ago.