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15 October 2014
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World War experiences from a young age.

by Kesteven and Sleaford High School

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Contributed by 
Kesteven and Sleaford High School
People in story: 
By Sarah Malone
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4501900
Contributed on: 
20 July 2005

I have recently interviewed my grandparents who were very young during the 2nd World War. They don’t remember much but they have some recollection of what went on and I have tried my best to force as much information out of them as I can.
My Grandad was only 3 and a half years of age when the war began, and he heard that the war had broken out over the radio. His whole family and all the people on his street had all gathered together to listen to the radio as the news was soon to be announced on whether or not the war would begin. When I asked him what his most vivid memory of the war was, he told me he couldn’t remember much but one thing that did stick in his mind for ever, that he will never be able to forget, was the dog fights. You may not understand this, but he was referring to the aeroplanes that would fly around bombing innocent people. He remembered this because it was very scary and you never knew what was going to happen next. During the war my Grandad’s general opinion of the opposition was that he hated the Nazi’s and he said that he still felt the same way because he could never just get over what happened because it was so awful so he will always find it very difficult to forgive anyone who was involved such as the Nazi’s. Because my Grandad was only a child during the war, he was not old enough to fight or have a job. However, he still had to cope, like everyone had to, with the rationing of food. When I asked him how he felt about the food being rationed he told me that he didn’t really think about it because it was an essential requirement to keep everyone alive, and no one had a choice. When the war finished my Grandad was of course very happy because what happened was such a terrible thing and everyone he knew was relieved it was all over.
I also interviewed my Nana. She was only 1 when the war started so didn’t remember very much at all, but she still had some memories she was able to share. Because she was a baby she grew up only knowing that way of life, and didn’t realise about the war until she was old enough to understand what was going on. But she was able to tell me some of her most vivid memories when she was a bit older. These were, the doodle bugs (which are flying bombs), rationing, and sirens. Most of the time the sirens would go off when she was in school. Because they would have to go into shelters a lot of the time no one would really panic. She told me that her and her class mates would go across the road towards the shelter in a single file line all singing “10 green bottles hanging on a wall”! Although every one was prepared for the sirens and bombs it would still come as a shock and would be scary because you don’t ever think anything will really happen, no matter how many times it has already happened, until it does. My Nana’s opinion of the opposition during the war was that she didn’t really understand what was going on but she knew that she hated Hitler and all the German fighter’s because of what they were doing to our country-especially as her Uncle was killed in the war by the Germans. However, unlike my Grandad my Nana said she doesn’t hate the German’s because the current people of Germany didn’t have anything to do with the war and Hitler who she hated is now dead! When I mentioned the rationing to my Nana she said that because she was only little she didn’t know any different. But she didn’t know what a banana was until way after the war and she remembers not getting many sweets at all. She told me that her Mother would swap eggs for sweet coupons so that she could have some sweets every so often, but it was very rare that this happened. She also mentioned the fact that rationing didn’t actually stop as soon as the war finished, but it carried on for years after the war had finished. When the war was over, my Nana was very pleased and she said that the best thing about it all was that her Dad (who worked in the army during the War) returned home so her family was all together again. Throughout the war she only got to see her father once.

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Message 1 - World War experiences from a young age.

Posted on: 20 July 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Sarah

Congratulations in taking such an interest in WW2 and in interviewing your grandparents. I enjoyed reading your account of their interviews.

May I clarify one point? You said that your grandfather "told me he couldn’t remember much but one thing that did stick in his mind for ever, that he will never be able to forget, was the dog fights. You may not understand this, but he was referring to the aeroplanes that would fly around bombing innocent people".

However, I am afraid that you have not understood the term either. A "dogfight", dating back to the aerial duels of WW1 over France, is a term used to describe close combat between fighter aircraft. In 1940, during the Battle of Britain, people would watch these, following the distinctive vapour trails made by the fighters locked in combat, in the clear skies over southern England.

Best wishes,

Peter

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