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15 October 2014
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Grandma’s War, by Will Clark

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Mary Clark and family
Location of story: 
London and Ochiltree, Scotland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 November 2005

Mary remembers being alerted by her parents to go to the outside air raid shelter in the front garden when the sirens went off. The shelter was concrete with no door. She remembers not being allowed to stand in the doorway. Her family’s shelter was above ground, but other families had underground shelters. The family next door had a wire mesh cage into which you all crawled in their front room.

The only furnishings in her family’s shelter were two bunk beds for Mum and Dad, and two children. Mary remembers having to put gas masks on. Her younger sister, Susan, was in a cot and there was a contraption to go over the cot.

Mary remembers being told to be quiet when the droning doodlebugs were overhead. She looked up and saw a small black cross in the air and was told it was a doodlebug. Everyone was waiting to see where it dropped and this happened a few times.

Sweets were rationed and chocolate was cut into small pieces. Food was rationed and so her family grew her own vegetables in the garden, near the shelter.

Mary and her sister were eventually evacuated to her father’s sister in Ochiltree, in Scotland. Her auntie was strict and whipped Mary with a strap when she had two pieces of cake. Mary had taken the extra piece because she was starving. Mary still has the scars on her leg. Mary remembers all the flags out one morning in Ochiltree when the War finished. Mary thought the year in Scotland was horrible and hated being separated from her Mum and Dad.

When Mary and her sister returned to London St. Paul’s was surrounded by rubble. She and her family stood in front of Buckingham Palace in a crowd to celebrate winning the War. There was a fly past by a Lancaster and a Spitfire.

By Will Clark, aged 8.

This story was collected by Will Clark, and submitted to The People’s War website by Stuart Ross, on behalf of Mary Clark, who has given her permission for her story to appear on the website.

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