Judy Benton (a daring escape story)

Judy arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport on 26 July 1939 after a life-changing 24 hours.

It was a seemingly ordinary day when 17 year old Judy returned home in Meissen, Germany. As soon as she arrived, she knew something was wrong, the front door was wide open and her parents and sister were gone. A neighbour hurriedly told her that the Gestapo had taken her family and would soon come back for her. 

Judy took just minutes to pack a small case, grab her papers and some money and head off to nearby Dresden where she knew there was a synagogue. The staff there told her that a Kindertransport train was leaving that night from Leipzig and advised her she should try and muscle her way onto it. Judy had no ticket and none of the official 'movement' paperwork that the children travelled under but this was her best chance of escape and she had to take it.

When Judy arrived at the station, the platform was teeming with distraught mothers and screaming children. One lady thrust her tiny youngster at Judy, begging her to take the child into her care on the journey ahead. A terrified Judy said no but that was the moment she thought of her daring plan.

Judy hurriedly left the station and ran to a nearby 'party shop' where she knew they sold fancy dress outfits. She selected a white apron and a white hat with a red cross on it and quickly changed into this makeshift nurses uniform. Back at the train station, she took charge of some youngsters with the intention of passing herself off as their nursemaid.

Judy was banking on the idea that the German SS soldiers would automatically respect her uniform and let her through, and she was right. It was a nerve-racking journey but she successfully made it through each checkpoint to arrive safely in London.  

Judy Benton aged 17Judy aged 17.

World Jewish Relief still retains original records for many of the refugees the organisation helped in the 1930's and 40's. Our case file for Judy shows that soon after arrival in the UK she was sent to an agricultural training centre. This was likely to have been organised by World Jewish Relief (then called the CBF) as a way to prove that she was in training to go to Palestine and only needed temporary refuge in the UK. As she has entered the country in such an unorthodox manner and had no guarantor, this would have been a method to gain Home Office approval for her stay.

Judy Benton fileJudy's case file

As it happened, war broke out and Judy didn't remain at the training centre for long. However it was long enough for her to meet Julius, the man she would marry and live a long and happy life with.

World Jewish Relief recently returned the case files to a now 97 year old Judy who said "It's surpising to see my records, I didn't know you had these and I'm amazed to find out new information, even after all these years." 

Judy Benton with case fileJudy receives her case file

During the war Judy got a job sewing uniforms for soldiers. Her needle skills would came in handy years later when she volunenteered for World Jewish Relief, knitting blankets for poorer Jewish communities in eastern Europe.