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15 October 2014
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Val's relatives in the War

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Val Georgina Haynes
Location of story: 
Cambridge
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4625507
Contributed on: 
30 July 2005

I was born at the end of the War and was only 2 when it ended. I was named Georgina after my uncle George. He was in the Green Howard's and had been missing for three years when I was born. He came back from Dunkirk on the boat called the Medway Queen, which still goes up and down the River Thames. He then was sent to Tripoli in Africa where was captured by Italians and handed to Germans as a POW.

My dad was in the Air force. He should have gone to Japan but was given compassionate leave because my mum was ill. She had to go into Addenbrooke's hospital for quite a while. Her appointment card said please bring gas mask and ration books. During the air raids she couldn't get out of bed which was very frightening for her. Dad worked on plane recovery and was sent all over the country to recover crashed planes for recycling. He made a necklace for me from some of the scrap metal. When Mum was home he went to Wales. He later worked at Marshall's airport in Cambridge.

Mum had to look after Grandad who was in Home Guard, my 2 year old sister and me, a baby. She also cooked and did washing for two airmen who were billeted with her. She had to put me in a special cradle during air raids and this upset her because I screamed. She went to bed fully clothed to be ready to get up when the siren sent off. Neighbours helped with the children.

During the War the Faeroe Islands, which belonged to Denmark, were neutral. The British occupied the Islands and controlled Vestmanna airport to allow the supply of food to get through from Iceland and other countries. The Germans killed the local fishermen for supplying fish to the British. My husband's stepfather was a gunner on the merchant ships in that area in case of attack by German planes. One day he was torpedoed and was in the water for 24 hours. He and a friend held up a young chap but when the rescue boat arrived he couldn't get into the boat because he was too exhausted and he fell back into the water and drowned.

I don't remember the war but I was affected by the sound of the sirens. After War firms used sirens for getting workers back to work. I found that very frightening but my sister told me the War was over now.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Margaret Tabbitt of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Val Georgina Haynes and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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