Ruth Rulcova: the shock of an English cup of tea

Sir Nicholas Winton

A few days ago - for the first time - Ruth Rulcova had the chance to meet the man who saved her life in 1939. In that strange time between the German occupation of Prague in March and the outbreak of war in September, Sir Nicholas Winton was a British diplomat in Prague. He decided to help Czech Jewish children to get out of Prague while there was still time. In all he arranged for 700 children to be taken in by families in Britain. Their parents and relatives who stayed at home nearly all perished in the gas-chambers of the east. Ruth Rulcova was one of those children. Here she remembers her first impressions on arriving in England.

"I was seven at the time. It was exactly 63 years ago in July 1939. I don't remember much about the journey. It was a train journey and then on the boat. I do remember standing on the platform at - probably - Victoria Station with a big label on a piece of string round my neck with my name. And then somebody claimed me, this strange couple, elderly people, with a grown-up daughter and... a strange thing... we never have tea with milk here. I never drank tea with milk, and they took me for a cup of tea. They offered me a cup of tea and I said "Yes". I didn't want milk. And then it was this strange black thick stuff. It was horrible and I couldn't put enough sugar in it. And it still tasted terrible. So that was my first experience of English tea. With milk it's much better of course. And then I remember being taken by car to Portsmouth, and their daughter, who was 26 at the time, she had a cut-out book with the little princesses and she was teaching me the names of the princesses and the clothes because I didn't know any English."