- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Rona Sefton
- Location of story:
- Initially Canterbury
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 November 2003
I was born in Canterbury,Kent in June 1940 and lived with my Mum in Broad Street, Canterbury. My Mum had already suffered the beginning of WW2 looking after my brother who was born in 1939. Mt father was away with the war effort and he was stationed in Mauritius off the coast of Africa. He was one of the lucky ones as he missed the front line but did his service at a hospital on the island.
When you think about it my poor Mum had the worse task as she was at home with two young lads to contend with ,a war going on and no husband around to comfort her. She told me some of the experiences we had whilst living in Canterbury and beyond, as I was to young to remember. Alas my Mum or dad cannot relate this story as they are now gone from this life.
One incident that sticks in my mind that my Mum recalled to me was when an air raid started and she did not have time to take us to the shelters, so she took the lid off the dustbin and put me inside for protection and replaced the lid. Thankfully the air raid did not last long and I was soon out of the black hole without any damage to my person. Where my Mum and brother were at the time I could not say as she never told me. Air raids were quite the norm' at the time and my Mum said she got quite complacent at times, due to amount of times the sirens went off. I must add she must have been very stressed with having the responsibility of looking after two young boys.
One day when all hell broke loose, there was a knock at the door and there stood an air raid warden who quickly informed us that we had to get out for evacuation. She was told to pack only the bare essentials. You can imagine the situation ,(or could you?),my poor Mum running around frantically trying to cram essentials into a bag and not knowing whether they were essential or otherwise. All our worldly goods being left behind. There was probably not a lot as my Mum and Dad had not been married long. But what there was must have been cherished due to the war being on at the time.
After leaving the house we were bundled into transport and taken to the railway station with thousands of other folk. Once at the station my Mum was asked were she wanted to be evacuated to and she opted for Up North in Durham area. It was were my Aunt and Gran' lived and they would give support to her. Within a few short hours we were on our way to pastures new. My Mum said the train journey was horrendous as the train was packed full and there was bombing going on around us. She had no powdered milk for me and none were obtainable on the train so I must have played up somewhat adding to her stress levels nno doubt. Eventually we arrived at our destination and our Aunt was there to greet us with some milk and a little nourishment for my Mum and brother.
After settling in at Durham my Mum was informed that our little house in Broad street no longer existed nor did the street anymore. The Germans had bombed it all to rubble.
We stayed for a cou[ple of years in Durham and eventually we moved down to Hull as my Mum had managed to obtain a council house in Moorhouse Road, Hull. Apparently the owners before us had been evicted and the walls were actually covered in excrement and my poor Mum and Aunt had to scrub the walls clean and disinfect them to make it habitable. Once settled in we made a home as best we could or at least my dear Mum did. The war was still going on and many times she never got any wages from my father due to unforeseen problems. To make ends meet she took in peoples washing and made bread cakes to sell on to folk. My hat goes off to my Mum as she managed to clothe and feed us and tend to our every needs, but who was ther to attend to my Mums needs? She was in a strange place far from her original home, no friends or family close by as by this time my Aunt had returned back up north. I think my Mum deserved a war medal never mind the soldiers on the front, as the mums were the unsung heroes of the war effort.
I remembered some events of the war myself, once I had a few years on my back. Hull like Canterbury, was selected by the Germans for bombing and bomb us they did. I remembered air raid sirens going off all the time or so it seemed then. Then running to the garden air raid shelters that everyone had and getting into make do beds for the night. Occasionaly my Mum never bothered with the shelters and stuck us all under the table and took the chance that a stray bomb might hit us but thankfully it never did.
I also recall my Mum at times sitting in the front room sobbing her heart out poor lass and not knowing what to do as I was still only a young boy. Another time was when my Mum had to have her teeth extracted at home. All I can picture is my Mum sat on this chair in the front room with a bucket full of blood beside her ,(it was mainly water but I did not know that at the time),and no teeth left in her mouth. She survived this ordeal like many others she probably suffered but never told me about and all this with no husband to comfort her just two demanding boys.
Thankfully 1945 came along and the street parties were in full swing and finally my Mum seemed to smile once more. The later in the yerar I was called in from pla and told there was someone important here to see me. I walked in a bit hesitant and was taken aback when I saw this very brown handsome man sitting in a chair in the front room. All I could remember were these pearly white teeth and a brown face(I had not seen my Dad since birth 5 years ago).
I wondered who on earth this man was, he offered me a tin of golden humbugs and got a friend for life as you know what rationing was like in the war. Things were awkward for a while but I eventually accepted that this man was my father and we got back to a normal relationship fairly quickly although my dad had big problems settling back into civilian life as he had been away far to long.
Mum came back to the rescue though as she bought him some garden tools and told him to ghet cracking with the garden and he never looked back after that. We also had the best looking garden in Moorhouse Road.
That is what my memories of those dark days were and I think all Mums in those hard times should be put in a hall of fame and remembered for all their deeds during those dreadful times.
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