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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Pamela Atter (nee Church)
Location of story: 
Grantham & Donnington, Lincs
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Lincoln CSV on behalf of Pamela Atter and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Atter fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I remember sitting with my mum and dad and two younger brothers listening to the wireless when war with Germany was declared. But for us children nothing seemed to change. We still went to school and did the usual things that children do. We were issued with a gas mask a bit later on and told that we had to take it to school every day.

Six months later round about the time Dunkirk was going on it was decided by my parents that we children would be sent to live with my grandma and grandad in Donnington near Spalding. Mr Herring, a friend of the family used to bring mum to see us once a week.

When we went to the local school it was all new to us. We enjoyed playing in the small field alongside the school but thought the earth toilet across the playground was awful. They also used to do all their school work on a slate with some chalk! It seemed really countrified.

I remember ebing invited to eat some plums and apples from grandma's orchard and then being sick because I'd eaten too many.

After 8 months we came back to Grantham and I found out that all the other girls at school had taken the 11 plus exam. If you passed this exam you went to a higher grade school. It was arranged that I would take this exam in the office of the headmistress. Having passed the exam I was informed I would go to the girls central school in Grantham. they had a school uniform so clothing coupons (everything required these) were obtained. THis allowed us to buy the material which ws then made into the uniform by a local woman.

A nationwide blackout was enforced. No lights could be shown in the streets and buildings. We found this quite exciting because you were allowed to walk to the shops or picture houses using a torch that showed only a small slit of light. Sometimes you would bump into other people whilst trying to find your way. This caused many a laugh.

When the air raids started in earnest most people would wait until the 3 pips sounded. This signified that an air raid was imminent. One night we were placed in the morrison shelter that was in our front room. Some other children rushed in from out of the street (they had been directed there by an air raid wawrden). We all sat huddled in the steel shelter when there was a very loud bang. I felt myself lifted out of the edge of the shelter by the blast. I bumped onto the floor only a couple of inches lower but this time the frame of the door was hanging round my neck. The glass in the door must have shattered before the door came off its hinges because I didn't have a single cut.

We children were taken to a nearby street where an uncle lived, staying there whilst a decision was made as to where we would live whilst the house was repaired. We were taken by another relative to a farm cottage at Honnington. There we discovered another earth toilet!! We stayed there from October until the following April.

The next day, going back to pick up some small items from the damaged house to use in the cottage, we were warned of an unexploded bomb in a nearby street. We also saw bodies covered with sheets and other things lying in the road. They were the people who had been killed and were waiting to be taken to the mortuary which was the nearby swimming pool.

We found out later that one of the street shelters, built of brick and concrete, had taken a direct hit and that all the people in there had been killed. One man had a terrible head wound. Most of my school friends had been in the shelter and died. It was a terrible shock to us all but you just had to get on with what you were doing.

My Uncle Alf was found 2 days later in a nearby cellar. There wasdn't a mark on him but he was dead from the blast.

Mum was looking for our white and ginger cat when this black cat came up to her being fussy. On closer examination it was discovered that it was our cat covered in soot and brick dust.

Grandma kept a pig in a nearby allotment. Uncle Herbert came home from the pub feeling merry. He went to feed the pig and fell into the sty. Grandma said you could hear his shouts for help about four miles away

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