- Contributed by
- Bournemouth Libraries
- People in story:
- Doreen and Jean
- Location of story:
- The Home Front (Abingdon and Bournemouth)
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 03 August 2004
Doreen was five when the War broke out. Living in the Isle of Dogs; she was a cockney from London's East End. She was the youngest of six. One of her brothers was 11, being evacuated with her. Her two elder brothers were both in the Army, whilst one of her sisters was in the Wrens and the other was doing war work.
Her entire school was evacuated on the outbreak of hostilities. It was a bit like going to the seaside, with your bucket and spade. However there was also ones gas mask to carry. Leaving Paddington station it took all day to reach their destination of Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Every so often the train would stop to allow troop trains to go past. At the Corn Exchange in the town, Doreen and her brother were the last two children to be chosen. It was 11 o'clock at night and nobody wanted a boy AND a girl. It was a horrible feeling that you were unwanted. They were initially split up, but after a fortnight Doreen stayed with a family until she was 11. This lady became a second mum to her.
At first Doreen found it very difficult to integrate into school. Her brother had her on a piece of string wherever they went so she wouldn't get lost. Her mum and dad managed to visit every couple of months though. Soon she was really enjoying herself. The family had a son who taught her about flowers. She passed her 11-plus exam, also gaining a countrified Oxfordshire accent.
Doreen really didn't want to go back home to London after the War. Whilst she loved her own parents very much, the bond was never quite as strong as it had been before the War.
Jean remembered bombs dropping on the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth. Often planes would drop their remaining bombs near the coast so that they would have a lighter load to increase their chances of getting back home to Germany.
Food shortages continued well after the War. Real eggs were an occasional treat. With long queues for food, one needed to be creative in cookery to make good meals. Some people would try to go round twice and you never knew what you were actually in the queue for. The "make do and mend" ethos continued well into the 1950s.
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