- Contributed by
- Romsey Community School, Hampshire
- People in story:
- Beryl Chandler
- Location of story:
- Wembley, London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 July 2004
We interviewed a lady called Beryl Chandler who was the age of 16 at the start of the war. At the start of the war she was still at school while her father worked in an office. He later progressed to an air raid warden and then the Home Guard. Her mother meanwhile was a housewife. They lived in Wembley, London. Towards the end of the war Beryl was training to be a teacher. She went to Australia for 3 years. She stated, 'When I arrived in Perth I was stunned by all the food in the shops, I couldn't stop staring.’ Beryl was very eager to talk about the good deeds of Winston Churchill. She said that he was very supportive when it came to the children. He was the one that kept up our hopes and made her believe that England was going to win the war.
When we moved toward the subject of rationing Beryl was very knowledgeable because she was at the age that she could remember the lack of food. She told us that there was no fruit like apples or oranges. Her mother grew vegetables in the garden and she was very clever at managing the food. She told us that her most frequent meal was that of dried eggs. She said, 'My fathers firm had offices in New Zealand one family 'adopted' us and sent us food packages, the American officers were very nice and also gave us food.' Beryl told us that she stayed in Wales and it didn’t seem that there was a war going on. When she returned a friend carried on sending us fresh eggs. Beryl had to queue to get everything and she remembers that sometimes she would be in a queue with no idea what it was for! Also her clothes were rationed and they only received one ration card a year.
Beryl told us that at the start of the war her younger brother and sister were evacuated to their aunties countryside house, but after a few months nothing had happened and they came back. Beryl’s College was evacuated to Birmingham and also many parents sent their children to the Lake District.
Moving on to the subject of shelters Beryl told us that her family didn’t have one! They spent most of their time sleeping downstairs like many other families. Beryl was lucky, she was never bombed out and no windows were broken. Her house often rocked as the houses around her were bombed. She often had nightmares but soon took it in her stride. She said that if her mother wasn’t so calm she wouldn’t have coped with it as well. Her brother’s school took five hits! Many classrooms were demolished.
We then started to talk about the blackout and Beryl told us that they had to tape the windows so that no light showed through. Her mother made the curtains so we could pull them across the taped windows. If any light was to show through from any house the air raid warden would become angry, and more than likely, fine them. It was black absolutely everywhere. All of the streetlights had to be switched off. People were not allowed to smoke a cigarette because of the flame. Beryl had no personal experiences of the armed forces because she was a teacher and her father was to old to be in it.
Beryl's father was keen for her to know what was happening in the war. He had a big map on the wall and would put a marker to show where the British forces were advancing or had advanced. Also there were lots of posters for the children saying, for example, 'If the Germans come this is what you have to do....'
September the 15th 1940 was Beryl's parents wedding anniversary as well as the day the Battle of Britain. The whole family stood outside in the garden and watched the waves of planed fly overhead. Beryl was amazed at how quickly the pilots were trained; she told us that her family collected bit of metal and shrapnel to sent back to the factories and that iron gates were sent too.
The most difficulty thing that Beryl had to cope with was that she was not allowed to go out to see friends at night. She was only allowed to go to school and had a very restricted social life. Her family never went on holiday. When she went to college she enjoyed it so much and made many new friends.
Beryl luckily did not loose any friends or relatives however she stayed with a woman who lost her husband in battle. Beryl's brother was on his bike riding to school when he saw a bomber overhead. He jumped off his bike, ran into the butchers and hid under the table.
Beryl did not have a frightening experience but even now she doesn't like a loud bang or a sudden noise. She once saw an airman with a face similar to that of Simon Western's. She started to cry when she saw him.
Beryl had little or no contact with the enemy or with troops from other nations on the allied side, apart from a group of evacuees from another country.
The best thing that happened to Beryl during the war was the time that she spent in college.
Throughout the war Beryl never for even a moment thought that Britain would lose the war. She couldn't! Churchill was the man who kept up her and the other children’s hopes. He had a huge reputation especially with the youth. Beryl thought the war was definitely justified she didn’t want the Germans to invade but tried not to think about it too much.
She said that at the end of the war all of the food and clothes had become in even shorter supply, even though she stayed in a hostel that provided food she still went hungry!
By Ellie and Katie
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