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Manchester boy's memory of the war

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
threecountiesaction
People in story: 
Gerry Garside
Location of story: 
De La Salle College, Salford (near Manchester)
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A7137218
Contributed on: 
20 November 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Rebecca, a pupil from Cedars Upper School on behalf of Gerry Garide & has been added to the site with his permission. He fully understands the site's terms & conditions.

In the week before war broke out, some children from another school told us that they’d been told not to go to school if war was announced over the weekend. Then the local authorities put up these strong brick shelters & so when we did go back to school (half a day for boys & half a day for girls), we spent a lot of time practicing for air-raids — there was a 10 minute walk to get to the nearest one! Some time, we had to take an exam, but since we’d missed so much teaching, the exams were made easier for us.
The De La Salle College had moved to Accrington, 15 miles away, but since nothing happened, they came back, in time for my year to move up. That was when the bombing started!
A lot of teachers were called up, so we ended up with a lot of female teachers, Irish teachers, & bad teachers. One particular teacher was showing us an experiment in Science, but she did something wrong & it exploded, making spots on her nylon stockings. We all thought it was hilarious, but she was furious that she’d made such a fool of herself & didn’t have the coupons to buy new stockings. Our Head teacher, however, was very good. He taught us for English Literature & History. Our old English teacher had insisted we read Walter Scott, but he said that was ridiculous for boys of ten, so we got to read “Treasure Island” instead.
All sorts of other things happened: our school field was taken up by barrage balloons & the Head had to sleep in the pavilion.
Also, I was walking the dog one day when I saw some people digging holes in the ground next to the resovoir for air-raid shelters. When they saw me they asked what I was doing just walking the dog & told me to shut it the garage, get a spade & join in.
After the defeat of the Germans, Britain was really on its knees & it was a sad dark country, but the Festival of Britain was fabulous with light & new ideas from Scandinavia & lots of exciting & amusing things which brightened everything up.

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