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A Child's Wartime Memories in Barnsley

by Tel

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Terry Fellows
Location of story: 
In Barnsley
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
31 January 2004

Life for me as a four year old living in Barnsley seemed normal. For instance checking the front step to see if Mum and I were lucky enough to have been left dried eggs by the milkman,a rare luxury. Life was a routine until bedtime when the air- raid warning went off I would be snatched up wrapped in my red dressing gown and rushed off to the shelter Dad had gone to war and Mum had just given birth to my brother.

One night the siren went off as the German bombers passed over Barnsley to bomb Sheffield {it was reputed that Barnsley Town Hall was a land mark they used. }
My Mum wrapped me in my dressing gown and went to the shelter. This was a corrugated steel construction which was placed over an excavation in the ground with an entrance door and steps leading down to seats on either side.
Taking her seat she proceeded to chat to the occupants who were our neighbours until one woman asked her where was her new baby. Whereby Mum shrieked, dumped me on the seat and fled red faced. She never lived that down.

Dad I learned went off to a place called India and thence to Burma and we were a one parent family.

Mum had two sons to bring up on little money and rationing. Memories of that era are fragmented but some things stick in the mind. The day the Telegraph Boy knocked on our door and Mum cried. Many people in the street came to comfort her thinking it to be the dreaded news that Dad was a casualty of war. He was alive but seriously ill with pneumonia and in hospital. He later said it he was given the last rites but a new drug called penicillin was administered and that literally saved his life.

The war in Europe ended and one by one the welcome home flags that neighbours had hung out for the return of their loved ones were taken in. Finally the only house in the entire street still flying the union jack with the welcome home message in its centre was ours. I remember asking my Mum where was my Dad and the answer stating he had farther to come. The days, weeks and months dragged by and the return of Dad became a distant hope and the flag as much part of the house as the front door.

One day Mum called me in gave me money and told me to visit the Barbers Shop for the dreaded haircut. I hated this sitting on a bench with grown ups watching the barber perform. Laughing at things I didn’t understand and knowing that I would soon be in the chair centre of attention.

At last the ordeal was over and I left the shop and set off for home. Walking down the road I saw in the distance two ladies I knew talking to a man in uniform wearing a very impressive hat. He carried on walking and the two ladies continued in my direction. Drawing level they stopped and one said to me. “Terry, that soldier is your Daddy”.
I looked down the road and without speaking a word set off at a run. I quickly caught up and slowed down taking in the sight of this tall sunburned soldier wearing what I learned later was a bush hat that sported a peacock feather. On his shoulder was slung a canvas bag with his name on it. A leather suit case was held in the other hand. I looked up at him and he gave me a broad grin and a big wink. I said “ Hello Dad.”
My Dad had arrived home.

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Message 1 - A Child's Wartime Memories

Posted on: 31 January 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


This is a well-written and very moving story. A welcome addition.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Sheffield and South Yorkshire Category
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