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War Years in Hove

by West Sussex Library Service

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
West Sussex Library Service
People in story: 
Renee Harvey
Location of story: 
Hove, East Sussex
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 July 2005

My name is Renee Harvey and during the war I lived, with my parents, in Hove and Portsmouth. We tried to carry on life as normally as possible. The streets were all dark as the gas lights were not turned on. Street signs and town signs were all removed as well.

Indoors we had blackout curtains at the windows, if a slight glimmer of light was showing you would have an air-raid warden at your front door. In our front room we had an Anderson shelter with a metal top like a cage. Of course we had a tablecloth over the top. When the siren went off my baby brother was always the first to crawl in and the last to crawl out.

In our home we had gas lights downstairs and no lights at all upstairs. Torches were used for reading in bed; usually under the covers. My father and mother were the only ones trusted with candles.

Some food was difficult to get, eggs was one of these so we kept a few chickens in the garden. There were no bananas, if the word got round that some bananas were available long queues would develop. There was no toilet paper so for a luxury we resorted to tissue paper; otherwise it was newspaper cut into squares. There was no TV, we were very glad to have the radio which was charged by an accumulator (Battery).

When we obtained oranges we would take our fruit to the Squash factory in Portslade. They would remove the rind and give us some sugar in exchange. Then we would take our sugar to the Homemade sweet shop and along with a little money exchange it for sweets — a great treat!!

We had to go to the nearest school to our house, when the siren went off we had to go down the shelter in the playground that was musty and did not smell very nice. There were never any new excersise books so we had to write in the odd spaces left in old ones.

My father was not a soldier because he worked on the railway. He was based at Haywards heath station although he travelled all over. He was an Electrical Engineer. They did not stop for dinner breaks but just took a tin of corned beef bread and some margarine and of course a supply of hot tea. He would be called out anytime of the day or night especially if the re was a cow or a bomb on the line. We never knew when he was coming home.

We also spent time in Portsmouth where I remember the barrage balloons. My sister and I had dresses made out of parachute silk which was beautiful. Also I had a brooch made out of aeroplane glass. We could never visit the seaside as there were miles of barbed wire to stop people going to the beach or boats landing. On the weekends we spent our time at the allotments growing vegetables, The children were allowed to grow a few flowers. After the corn was cut in the fields we were allowed to glean the fields and collect corn for our chickens.

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