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15 October 2014
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A Girl Grows Up in War Years

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Eunice Hoy Known as in The War Eunice Bell
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 July 2005

Tom returns home

This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Jas from Global Information Centre Eastbourne and has been added to the website on behalf of Mrs Hoy with her permission and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions

I was 12 years old when the war started and on that day I listened to Neville Chamberlain on the wireless telling us War had started.

Soon after that the air raid siren went. We had no idea what to do and my parents had been through the First World War so they were very worried. We got into bed, me in the middle and just lay there, not speaking, I was terrified and then the all clear went and they got up and I couldn’t move.

Nothing much happened for several weeks apart from going to school and being issued with gas masks which we had to carry at all times in a cardboard box. After morning assembly we had air raid drill. We thought this was great fun as it meant we didn’t have to do lessons. The school was Carr Lane Willerby, near Hull.

Eventually we had a lot of bombings because of the docks and my Father evacuated us to a small village in Lincolnshire — East Keal. I went on to the Grammar School at Spilsby and though it was a quiet village, we didn’t know at the time they were going to build an aerodrome nearby.

When it was finished we used to watch the bombers coming and going and we could see the German fighters coming over.

There was a young man came down as an apprentice carpenter and we met. I was still a girl at Grammar School and he used to help me with my homework. When we were seventeen and a half we joined the navy.

Tom went over on D Day and his ship was damaged, so he had leave while the ship was being repaired. During this time we got married at St Botolphs in Boston, Lincolnshire.

My father had died at 49. He had been badly wounded in the First World War; he still had the bullets in his body when he died.

Time passed and I went to Mill Hill in London to train as a writer, this was 1944. Whilst travelling to and fro Mill Hill we used to see people and families sleeping on the railway platforms, blankets and pillows, mothers with little ones, elderly people, all just normal decent families having to sleep there for fear of being bombed.

Whilst there I used to go to the forces clubs, one in particular was the Stage Door Canteen Club for American Servicemen and we used to dance to Glen Miller and his Orchestra.

One time when we cane out of the Stage Door all the windows had been blown in, glass smashed everywhere, but we didn’t even hear it. Even if we had we wouldn’t care as we were having such a good time and had got used to that sort of thing happening. They used to broadcast Glen Miller at the Stage Door Canteen Club on the wireless; it was called AFN (American Forces Network)

Whilst at Mill Hill I had a vaccination, which I hadn’t had before and was very poorly, but even so I was sent to Lowestoft HMS Myloden and when I got there I was put in sick bay on the top floor of the medical block.

While there the doodlebugs came over and everyone used to go to the shelter leaving me all on my own.

I was there for a while and then went to Chatam, HMS Penbroke, a naval shore establishment. Sometimes I went absent without leave and as a punishment I was made to scrub floors, no rubber gloves, soda in the water and was made to become a steward.

After that I was forgiven and went into the mailing office. Soon after that the war in Europe was over and on VE Day I was in Manchester with my relatives. I was on leave. Everybody was dancing and cheering and there was great joy. Of course we all knew that the war in the Pacific was still going on. Tom's ship left for Australia.

After that I got pregnant and left the WRENS and went back to live with my mother.

Looking back we managed to make good meals out of very few ingredients.

Our daughter was born in 1946, but it was 6 months before my husband Tom was demobbed and was able to come home and see her.

The picture above shows us as a family, it was taken in East Keal Lincolnshire in 1946.

Now we had to start with nothing and build our lives together


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