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15 October 2014
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Dulcie Carter
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20 October 2005

[This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on behalf of Dulcie Carter and has been added to the site with her permission. Dulcie Carter understands the site’s terms and conditions.]

Some very respectable friends took in two, who offered to go shopping for them, saying, “It’s all right Mum, we don’t’ need any money”--they turned out to be very well trained shoplifters! We were much more fortunate with the little boy we had, a five-year-old called Vernon. He was quite well behaved, and stayed with us for four years. He had been used to sleeping in the shelters previously, and every night when put to bed he would sing all the wartime songs at the top of his voice, “Roll out the Barrels,” “Run, Rabbit, Run” and all the rest till he had been through the lot. Then there would be moment’s silence, and then in a very loud voice, “Can I ‘ave a drink o water?” He was an only child, and when his daddy was on embarkation leave the parents came to stay for a weekend. We only had 3 bedrooms and there were 6 of us, but we managed to squeeze them in somehow. That was the only time we saw the father. Sadly, soon after he went abroad the news came that he had stepped on a land mine, and was killed instantly. What a waste of a young life, they had been such a lovely devoted little family. Fortunately, Vernon was not really old enough to take in what had happened, he had got used to his daddy being away. But it may have had something to do with the strange mood swings we experienced with him. He was normally a very happy child, and a born conductor, usually at dinner time, with his knife and fork, the fork of course loaded with food. If the radio played rousing music, his movements would become more vigorous and the food would be flung far and wide. I dread to think how many pieces of potato etc. became embedded in the furniture or spattered over the curtains. Then, all at once the movements would come to an abrupt stop, an elbow would thump down on the table, one each side of his plate, head in hands, and an inaudible muttering would begin. He was obviously sulking and very unhappy, but we never did manage to find out who or what had
displeased him.

One evening he set out to go to cubs, but shortly after he returned with bleeding knees and howling for all he was worth. When we asked what had happened he said, “I was walking along with my eyes closed, and I fell over a wall.” This was, of course, one of the low walls left after the railings had been removed. We couldn’t help laughing at him, and it made him see the funny side of it, and he had a good laugh too, but I don’t think he tried walking with eyes closed again.

We wondered if he would ever return himself to say thank you, but he never did. Only recently we found a letter of appreciation from his mother to our mother, for her care of him over those four years.

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