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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Margaret (prefers not to give surname)
Location of story: 
Grayshot, Hants
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4368107
Contributed on: 
05 July 2005

‘’This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Jim Farr from Horsham and has been added to the website on behalf of Margaret with her permission and she fully understands the site's’ terms and conditions’’

When war was declared on Sept 3rd 1939 I was 11 years old and remember hearing it while I was helping my Grandmother prepare lunch.
We didn’t find many things different at first, then everyone was issued with gasmasks which we had to carry at all times also identity cards.
We had an artillery unit moved into the field below our street and a large searchlight. The common where we use to go for walks was taken over by Canadian soldiers and it was quite normal to see their great big tanks lumbering through the village. Of course the children did well for chocolate and candy from the Canadian soldiers.
One thing remember was when they took down the iron railings around the war memorial to help make munitions, this didn’t seem right to me.
My Grandmother was manageress at the laundry and I use to collect the collars from the RAF men for her to wash.
I remember seeing lots of gliders and was told later that they had gone to Arnhem.
From the loft of our house we could see the glow of fires from Portsmouth when it was being bombed.
There were many dogfights between German planes and our planes over the village and one evening when we were at a dance a German plane crashed quite close and the impact collapsed a lot of seats and some people were thrown to the floor.
Several boys from the village were lost at sea when their boats were torpedoed and my cousin who was a Sgt air gunner was posted missing when his plane was shot down. Nothing was known about him for many years until we saw on the internet there is a plaque naming him at the memorial on Runnymede.
My father was a postman during the war and had to do fire watching on the roof of the post office once or twice a week.
Food was rationed and fruit, meat and fish in short supply. Everyone grew what veg they could, even the school had its own vegy plot.
My eldest brother was in the Royal Marines and drove a landing craft in the D Day landings and finished up in Hamburg.
Towards the end of the war I helped out at the British Legion Club where they ran a canteen for service men stationed locally. We could only do tea and coffee, beans on toast,scrambled eggs (dried egg) and cheese on toast but it felt like home comforts to them.
Sadly lots of boys who passed through the village never made it to go home

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