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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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The Outbreak of War

by gloinf

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Roanna Mitchell
Location of story: 
Pitlochry , Scotland and London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 August 2004

We were on holiday in Muddiford in Cornwall and the news came through that England was at war with Germany. We heard the shaky voice of our Prime Minister, Mr Chamberlain announcing “We are now at war with Germany, and Germany has invaded Poland”.
We were all very shocked although we knew War was coming. We made arrangements to come home as quickly as possible. My young brother and I were sent to Pitlochry in Scotland, it is a lovely place. I spent three years there and went to the local school with my cousins, I was very teased because of my refined English accent, but it was all done in jest. I was a Brownie and my war effort was to collect tin cans once a week. We had wonderful food up there, as Uncle was not called up because of bad health and he used to go shooting and we were brought up on grouse and venison and salmon, but alas we had to put up with dried egg, which was horrible! Exotic fruit was not easy to obtain but I remember we had plenty of apples.
After 3 years my mother wanted me back in England and I was sent to school, to one of the few private schools, which had not been evacuated.
Flying bombs were the new weapon of destruction and the family used to sleep in the kitchen, as it was considered to be the safest place in the house, but I refused, as I preferred, if we got a direct hit, to die in my own comfortable bed.
When I sat for my Metric. I passed with flying colours because the exams were taken in the shelters under the school hall, as flying bombs were dropping regularly. The head teacher wrote to the examination board to tell them how it had been for us and we got very good results! After this I went to training as a physiotherapist at Kings College Hospital, which had been evacuated to Epsom.
On D Day the senior students were sent in ambulances to help with casualties being brought into hospital in the UK from Europe.
When eventually peace came to Europe we had the day off and all our class rushed up to London. It is a day I will never forget. We danced in Piccadilly, went to Trafalgar Square, all on foot, and finally ended up outside Buckingham Palace shouting for the King and Winnie, “We want the King! We want Winnie!” and they all appeared on Buckingham Palace balcony. The Princess Elizabeth, in ATS uniform and I think the King in naval uniform. I understand the Princesses went with a private detective and mixed with the crowds. I can still feel the euphoria of that day; I cannot count the number of kisses exchanged with complete strangers as we celebrated the end of the war in Europe.
We went back on the last Underground to Denmark Hill, where I had been for the last 6 months of my training, and fell into our beds exhausted. By the way our beds were protected by a sort of four poster made of iron so if the roof fell in we would be safe.

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