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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
historycentre
People in story: 
Constance Chance
Location of story: 
Earlsfield, Wandsworth and Littleham, Devon
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3093806
Contributed on: 
06 October 2004

I am a volunteer working for the BBC's People's War Project and am writing this story on behalf of Constance Chance.

I was born in 1936 in Earlsfield, a district in Wandsworth, London, so I was four years old when the Second World War commenced.

Having two sisters, being the middle one, I remember quite a lot regarding that time.

Nearly every night during the bombing, we were pulled from our beds to go down to the Anderson Shelter that my dad built: it always had a funny smell.

My big sister, who had mastoids, and could not be moved had to stay in the house with our mother.

We were bombed out of our house several times. I recall a buzz-bomb dropping a couple of streets away and flattening many of the dwellings.

A vivid recollection is of an afternoon raid. I was sat on the loo: mother pulled me off just as the tank above came shattering down. A lucky escape.

We used to play in these bombed out houses, collecting shrapnel and swapping it with other kids.

The first move was to our dad's brother who was a warder at Wandsworth Prison, and consequently had a large dwelling.

Afterwards we went to our Gran's in Wiltshire, but did not stop there long before returning to London.

As the bombing got worse we three girls were evacuated to Devon. Like one sees on television we stood on the station platform with a label and a gas-mask not knowing where we were going; it was scary and seemed that you were going to the ends of the earth.

Mum had asked the authorities to keep the eldest and the youngest together, so I was taken by a family by myself.

I was most unhappy and threatened to run away. Consequently the family that took my sisters had me as well.

They were a lovely family named Squires. He was a farm labourer and lived in a lovely thatched cottage in a village called Littleha, not far from Exmouth.

We sometimes took Mr Squires his lunch, very often a large Cornish pasty which tasted gorgeous.

We went to the local school and were happy there. Mum and dad came to visit us when they could and after the war went there several times on holiday.

A couple of years ago my husband and I went back to the lovely village. The cottage is now a tea-room. The owner let me look around. I could still recall the place, bath night with a tin bath by the open fire and the smell of the apples in the brew-house waiting to be made into cider. Even the outside toilet was still there.

My daughter painted a picture of the cottage; this hangs in the dining room.

I corresponded infrequently with the postmistress who told me she remembers us three little girls.

Whilst this moment of history had good times and bad times it was a traumatic period in the lives of many. Perhaps it gave us fortitude in our lives to come.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

The Blitz Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Devon Category
London Category
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