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WW2 - People's War

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Manchester War Memories of a 10 year old.

by grannyjoycemary

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Joyce Mary Allsop nee' Steele and Granddaughter Alice Allsop.
Location of story: 
Gatley near Manchester
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 May 2005

The Second World War started when I was 9 years old. I went to Gatley Primary School two miles away from Manchester Airport. In the fields behind the school they built underground air-raid shelters, and we had a practice every day from the class room to the shelter. We had to carry our gasmasks and a tin box called Iron Ration which had biscuits, dried beans, sugar in it, and a bottle of water. All windows had brown sticky tape crisscrossed over the glass to stop it flying, and my friend Shirley Edwards and myself were given the job of sticking the tape on which we felt was quite an honour. Of course, it meant we missed a few lessons.

Some people had Anderson Air-raid shelters, but we put our solid dining room table in a corner by two main walls, and had a mattress and bedding underneath. One night a German bomber dropped incendiary bombs over our village and one fell on my Gran's prize lily - she was quite upset. Also one went through the roof o my friend Babbara Knowles's house, and she came over to our house to stay with me and sleep under our table. We didn't sleep much as, to us, it was great fun playing cards and giggling all night.

In summer we had double summer time and it was light until nearly mid-night. In 1940 we had the London evacuees. They came by train and were billeted to all the houses in Gatley. As I lived with my Gran who was nearly 70, she was exempt from having a child to look after, and I was quite envious of my friends who had children to live with them. Some of the evacuees soon became homesick, and didn't stay very long, and their parents came and took them back home.

When the evacuees came to our school everything changed. We had morning school one week, and the following week afternoon school. This was reversed for the evacuees. On the free half-days, in the summer the class was taken on nature walks, and we had to write about it for homework.

In the winter my granny taught me how to knit, and we had to use unravelled wool from anything which was not wearable, and we learnt to make do and mend.

We had to carry identity cards and Ration Books. My Dad had hens, and when one stopped laying we had the occasional chicken to eat. We grew rhubarb, Strawberries, chives, mint and had an apply tree. We had one bababa, tinned fruit and salmon allocated once a YEAR to each household when available.

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