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- Pamela Silver
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- 25 March 2004
Life during the Second World War for my Grandma
My Grandma, Pamela Rosemary Silver, was ten when the Second World War started. She was living in the Centre of a large city in East Yorkshire, called Hull. During the War, she was evacuated to five different families in two different places.
At the beginning of the war, she went to live in New Earswick, a village a few miles from York, about 35 miles from home. From 1940-45 she went to Selby, a small town about 20 miles from home. She lived with five very different families during the six years of the war. She was not happy with two of those families. They did not want an evacuee living with them. She spent most of the war with the other three families – one of which was exceptionally kind to her. For most of the war, she didn’t see her family. During the later part of the war, she returned to Hull a few times to stay with her parents for two or three days each time.
Where she was evacuated, she did not have any bomb shelter. She only heard the rumble of bombs and guns in the distance. Her parents did not have a bomb shelter in their house or garden in Hull. When the sirens went, they used the street shelter, a few minutes walk away. It was a large, dark and cold brick building. They took their blankets and hot water bottles with them and waited until the sirens sounded the “all clear”.
Hull was badly bombed on many, many occasions. My Grandma’s home in the centre of Hull was demolished. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. Every day, in the late afternoon, her parents took a bus to Skirlaugh, a village about 10 miles away. They slept where they could, sometimes with friends, sometimes they had to share a camp bed. They returned to Hull early the next morning. Many people had left Hull so her parents did not find it difficult to find a house to rent. They found one that was three miles from the city centre so my great grandparents stayed there for the rest of the war.
Two of my Grandma’s aunts (Margot and Jackie) were evacuated near to her during the first year of the war. For the next five years they were all separated. Early in the war my great grandparents talked of sending my grandma and all three of her sisters to live with their aunts and uncles in America. But a ship taking evacuees across the Atlantic was torpedoed so they decided it would be safer for their four daughters to all to stay in England.
During the war, Grandma met both British and American air force men. There were a number of bases near where she was evacuated. Many servicemen, including the bomber crews, went to the Saturday night dances in Selby. Grandma said that they did not want to talk about the war. Her eldest sister Jackie met a pilot in the Polish Army. They planned to get married after the war but he was killed in action.
There was little choice of food in the shops during the war. Some things were rationed. Everyone had a ration book. It contained coupons. The coupons allowed them to buy a small amount of cheese, butter, bacon, meat or corned beef. These had to last for the week. Grandma got up early on Saturday mornings to queue at the bread shop. Sometimes she was lucky and could buy some buns as well. She hated powdered egg, watery custard and soggy grated carrots. She had lots of these in her school dinners!
The thing she liked most about the war was growing up, but, she missed her family. Before the war, nearly every Sunday, she went to the seaside or to the countryside and spent the six-week summer holidays with her Grandma and Grandad by the seaside in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. (In the summer this year, I went to Aldeburgh to see the house they lived in and the fish shop that they ran). Grandma couldn’t go on any weekend trips or to go and stay with her grandparents during the war.
Grandma’s had her best treats of the war when she was living near York. The grown-up daughter of the family she was staying with worked in the Rowntrees factory. She sometimes brought home a large bag of unwrapped, broken pieces of “Kit Kat” and Grandma thought they were delicious. About this time, someone also gave her five shillings pocket money because they felt sorry for her as she was an evacuee. During the war, a shilling postal order sometimes came in the post from her mum and dad and this had to last a long time.
My grandma was scared of lots of things during the war but one of the most scary things was that she had to go into hospital to have an operation. She had to go by herself. She said she was scared, but only for the first two nights. She said that the doctors, nurses and patients were extremely kind to her.
Grandma did something very interesting when she was ten. She and her sisters, and a few friends, organised a concert. They charged an entrance fee and made some things to sell. They were collecting for the Red Cross. They handed the money to the Lord Mayor of York in front of the Mansion House and their pictures were in the newspaper.
Finally, just after the war, when she was sixteen, she met a very nice man called Harold Silver. A few years later, she married him!
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