- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Geraldyne Snushall
- Location of story:
- Plympton, devon.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 October 2005
This story has been written onto the BBC People’s War site by CSV Storygatherer Janet on behalf of Geraldyne
Snushall. The story has been added to the site with her permission. And Geraldyne fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.
I was three years old when war was declared and so knew nothing else but warfare. I lived in Plympton, some five miles from Plymouth in Devon. When I was five I attended Geasons Lane County Primary School near Ridgeway some distance away. In company with the neighbouring children I walked to school and back twice a day. It was quite safe as there was little or no traffic on the roads. There were very few cars and in any case petrol was rationed.
Food and clothes were also rationed and what was not rationed was in short supply. One exception was Mr Guest who delivered his homemade icecream by horse and cart. In spite of rationing I always had a birthday party. For tea we had jelly then fish paste sandwiches followed by a birthday cake contrived from carrots and a few currants. Afterwards we played games then the guests were given a slice of cake to take home. We had clothes parcels from America and though I should have been grateful I did not always appreciate the contents.
At school we were taught by women as the men were at war. We had very few materials and very little was wasted. Nonetheless we had a sound education. The only subject that was poor was geography and I left the primary school not knowing what a map of the British Isles looked like! At one time our school was joined by another so classes swelled to twice their usual size. Another time our school was evacuated to St Mary's Church Hall - I do not remember why or for how long. There were three classes held in
the hall. Each teacher had a blackboard and her class gathered around her and somehow they managed and managed very well. I was very unsettled at this time and always glad when school ended at 4 o'clock and my mother came to take me home. She drove a van for the General Post Office while I was at school. My father rarely came home and my mother used to show me a photograph of him, head and shoulders, and tell me that was my daddy. When he did come home on leave I was frightened and ran away from him. He was not my daddy. My daddy did not have any legs.
We lived with my grandparents and in 1941 my aunt and two cousins came to join us. It was crowded but it was wartime. When I was about eight years old my mother took me to Dunfermline to join my father who was in the Royal Navy and I went to school there. To begin with the pupils there did not understand my English accent and teased me unmercifully. I was there long enough to pick up a thick Scottish accent so when I returned to Geasons Lane my fellow pupils there had difficulty understanding me. One night my cousins and I were woken up and hurriedly dressed while the sirens wailed. The blitz of Plymouth had begun. The noise was frightening. A house nearby was bombed and all our windows were shattered and the blackout curtains were in tatters. The sky was aglow as Plymouth burned. In the days to come we would see how the bombs had reduced the city to rubble.
There were many outing but I remember being taken to Bigbury to see the sea for the first time. All along the beach were massive coils of barbed wire to prevent any enemy landing.
When the war ended all school children were given a Declaration by King George V1, which I still have. We thankfully put away our gasmasks and there was general rejoicing and great celebrations. Then we had to adjust to the aftermath of war.
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