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WW2 - People's War

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Hard Times and Good Times During the War

by ageconcerndurham1

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Eddie Piper
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 August 2004

I can remember the broadcasts, the propaganda agent for the Germans, broadcasting on English radio. One of the stories was about the bombing of a village called Twizel. He called it Twizzle, which was wrong. He indicated they were now bombing Twizle. Everyone thought that was funny, coming from a supposedly educated chap.

Everybody had different opinions about why they dropped the bombs. Some thought the bombs were supposedly meant for certain targets. There was so much antiaircraft fire the bombs were just ditched and the planes flew out.

I was six year old when the war began. There were seven children and my parents in my family. We lived in Stanley, Co. Durham. My dad was a miner in Stanley; he also did voluntary work for the ARP.
I was the third oldest. We kept on going to school during the war. My parents were determined that we did. I was allowed time off school to work on the farms. The work on the farms was for the war effort. Most of the men were away in the forces, so the children and the land army girls had to do the work in their absence.

My father was a miner, so he was exempt from having to go to war. It was really hard times bringing up a family during this time. I still remember my ration book number FGCG2855. We had food coupons, coupons for confectioneries, clothing coupons etc. At this time it was mainly businessmen and doctors who had cars, so there were not many cars on the road.

There were American forces stationed nearby and they had headquarters at Beamish Hall. We used to see them, but we did not really have much interaction with them. Beamish Hall was the family home of the Shaftoe family, well known to the people of the North East, hence the poem about “Bobby Shaftoe went to sea, with silver buckles on his knee.”

I can remember that just after the war, one of the local collieries hired the American Air Force band to march into Durham on the Miner’s Gala Day. In Stanley, itself, the American Air Force band gave a concert and a marching display that I did get to see at Murray Park, which was the local football ground in Stanley. Everybody in the town turned out to see that. The bandsmen stayed with some of the local families while they were there. A good time was had by all.

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