- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Priscilla Wookey and family
- Location of story:
- Kingston-on-Thames. Surrey, UK
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 05 September 2005
I can just remember being in a cottage in Somerset and hearing the announcement that we were going to be at war. Everyone was very solomn but I had no idea what it meant. My father went home, but we stayed in the country for several weeks to see what would happen. Everything was very uncomfortable and grown ups seemed cross and uninterested in us children. I can remember at school the classes were all mixed up because some teachers left. Later we had a little class in our house for about 6 children.
At the big school I went to next there were cloakrooms in the basement and they were made in to an air raid shelter with big wooden supports to hold up the roof. We quite liked air raids as we had sing songs down in the shelters.
School meals were horrible!! We had batter pudding so sticky you could stick your spoon into it and lift up the plate. We had tinned meat cut into rounds we called cork mats! Classrooms had coal fires in them and ink in pots you mixed up from a powder, which gummed up your pen and made horrible blots.
At home it always felt safe, but we had food rationing. My mother cooked all sorts of things to make the food go further, cooked sausages were cut up into little rings and refried for breakfast. The whole family (of 4) got about 100gms of butter a week, a tiny bit of cheese and not much meat. You could buy fruit and vegetables so long as they came from England and bread, except that it was not very nice. We got dried egg as part of the rations, it was difficult to make it taste like anything, it was a bright yellow powder.
We had to cover all the windows with black out material every night so the German planes couldn’t see where the towns were. If you made a mistake and left a light showing, the Warden came and knocked on the door and told you off. In 1940, 41 and 42 we often had air raids and you lay in bed listening to the anti aircraft guns and sometimes the bombs whistling down. If it was very bad we went into the cellar of our house, we had bunk beds in the hall where it was safer than upstairs. We listened to the radio a lot and especially the news, comedy shows and children’s hour. There was no television as it did not exist. We had our windows blown out 2 or 3 times but luckily no one was hurt, we put some sticky net over some of them to stop them from breaking.
My mum and dad Kept hens so we mostly had a lot of eggs, they grew tomatoes in the front garden and runner beans, everyone worked very hard, there were hardly any cars so people rode bicycles. They worked long hours and did not have much money. Clothes were rationed too so they were handed down and it was exciting to get anything new, even socks! We played skipping, hop scotch and pretend horses a lots so had a good time as children and made lots of things like go-carts and stilts out of flower pots. We also had a swing in the garden with rings and bars for gymnastics!
We cycled three miles to school, there was not much traffic, or went by electric trolley-bus. I recall the red letterboxes the tops of which were painted with special paint, which would change colour if there was a poison gas attack. We always carried our gas masks with us. The milk was delivered in a horse drawn cart. We were allowed to buy bicycles out of our savings
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