- Contributed by
- Devon Library Service
- People in story:
- Brian Harrison
- Location of story:
- South Wales, Kent
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 June 2005
I was nine years old when the war started and during the following year very little happened in Kent. In September 1940 I was evacuated to south Wales where I stayed on a farm for two years. During this time we saw a few German Bombers heading for Pembroke dock where quite a lot of damage was done. In 1942 our school returned to Kent as very little enemy activity was occurring. From then on we had many attacks as we were on the bombing route to London docks and we had many stray bombs and incendiaries and so our education was greatly disrupted.
During this time my father was on heavy rescue in the east end of London in the dock area and he experienced some horrendous scenes. On one occasion he had to help dig out one hundred and thirty five bodies from an air raid shelter. We were on the line of both the V1’s and V2’s and a great deal of fear arose, as the attacks were unexpected. After the raids, as children, we used to go out to see the damage and to collect the shrapnel from the anti-aircraft shells. During school time our work was affected and very often we were unable to get homework done as we were in the shelters. These shelters were very small, cold and damp and extremely unhygienic and we were glad to get out of them. We had a design of shelter that was better than an Anderson but was still pretty poor.
One thing we did was to keep maps of the progress of the war, sticking in coloured pins to show the progress being made by the armies and navies. In this way we learned a great deal about the geography of the world. At school very little was said about the war, indeed my main recollection of recent history was of the Liberal influence on government during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Going back to the evacuation, we had both Italian and German prisoners of war working on the farm. The Italians were very nice and made small models out of wood as gifts to us. We found the Germans very arrogant and not wanting to do any hard work.
While we were evacuated on the farm, we were not short of food; there was plenty of milk, eggs, meat, butter; the only shortage was of sugar, the ration being half a pound per week. On returning home we found it more difficult and rationing continued well after the war. Instead of rations increasing they decreased after the war. There was also a clothes ration, a yearly allowance of coupons hardly covering a school uniform. There was sweet rationing so we didn’t put on a lot of weight and still today I don’t eat a lot of sweets or chocolate. In fact, we got to the stage where we ate anything and everything that was put before us.
During the war our main entertainment apart from school games was visiting the cinema, usually on Saturday evening at the Regal cinema. The films were very often either war films or musicals. These would have been American cowboys and indians films and very colourful musicals.
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