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Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

by Yvonne Worrall nee Christian

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Contributed by 
Yvonne Worrall nee Christian
Location of story: 
Mitcham, Surrey
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5989206
Contributed on: 
02 October 2005

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Well, we did not have any really. Our parents had been the children of the first world war and were not in the habit of talking about what was going on. They considered nearly everything to be grown up talk so children were sent out of the room. In world war two things were not much better. There were posters telling us “CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES” and “KEEP MUM SHE’S NOT SO DUMB” (for those old enough to be courting beautiful women). People were discouraged from talking about where their loved ones were stationed. There was an air of secrecy about all troop movements.

We had the radio on all the time in our house and we heard the news several times a day. It did not have the exciting effect on me as it did my husband who was ten years old at the beginning of the war as I was only five. In fact I found it frightening. We as young children were uninformed. We were only told something on the need to know basis. At least we did not get into trouble for talking about the wrong things. This was where ignorance was bliss.

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Message 1 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 02 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Yvonne

I read your story with both interest and surprise. Was it perhaps a gender thing (as the modern jargon has it)? Certainly all the boys I knew were keen on knowing about the war.

All my schoolmates were interested in weaponry, particularly in aircraft recognition. Nearly everyone I knew had a map of Europe pinned to his bedroom wall and followed the various campaigns with great interest.

As for information, all cinemas showed newsreels; the BBC broadcast news on the wireless several times daily, and there were daily newspapers and magazines such as Picture Post. In Britain Churchill made frequent speeches which were broadcast, as did other ministers.

It seemed to me that everyone, including children, talked of nothing else but the war.

I must admit that I took it for granted that girls were just as interested as boys were, but perhaps I was wrong.

Regards,

Peter

 

Message 2 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 02 October 2005 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Dear Yvonne,
Not only did I know all about the war as a young lad but also the war in Spain and the Japanese Chinese war. This was from papers news reels magazines like Picture post and later War Illustrated plus family discussions. Nothing was kept from us and the girls in our area knew as much as the boys.
During the war, rumour and urban myth were often well ahead of the news media even if at times it was wrong. In our area we had men in all the local Regiments who came on leave or were wounded and sent home, Sailors and airmen too they talked to the families and so we were well up on most of the news. I cannot understand why you should have been so lacking in knowledge of the war, we got the news on the radio every day plus papers morning and evening, there was plenty of news if you listened or read it.
Regards Frank.

 

Message 3 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by Yvonne Worrall nee Christian

Dear Peter

Perhaps I should have made it clearer by saying that I was only five years old at the beginning of the war. I think that the fact that I didn't learn much was the fact that some children were seen but not heard, some more than others. Probably, my brother who was four years older would have been better informed.
I have been writing as through the eyes of a child. Thank you for your interest.I will reconsider what I have written.

Best Wishes
Yvonne

 

Message 4 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by Yvonne Worrall nee Christian

Dear Frank

Perhaps I should have made it clearer by saying that I was only five years old at the beginning of the war. I think that the fact that I didn't learn much was the fact that some children were seen but not heard, some more than others. Probably my brother who was four years older would have been better informed.
I have been writing as through the eyes of a child. Perhaps you would like to look at my articles "A4440575 The Shelter" and "A4512188 Blitz Kids", describing my experiences in London. Thank you for you interest, I will reconsider what I have written.

Best wishes
Yvonne

 

Message 5 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Yvonne

Thanks for replying. During the war, no matter how sheltered you were at home, once you started going to school or going to the pictures, you could not avoid knowing about the war.

In Britain, in particular, kids had to carry their gas masks everywhere and at school there were frequent air-raid precaution drills. Kids were also involved in various collections for the war effort, organised at school. And surely mothers would explain to their children why their fathers were away.

At five, of course, you could not be expected to understand what was going on. But that is quite different.

Kind regards,

Peter

 

Message 6 - Freedom of Speech - Mitcham

Posted on: 05 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Yvonne!

Your two stories, here A4440575 and here A4512188, paint a completely different picture; as does this one A5363002 too.

Best wishes,

Peter <cheers>

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