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WW2 - People's War

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Childhood Memories

by Rosslibrary

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Pat Robinson
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Contributed on: 
19 April 2005

My father was ill and we moved out of London to Cambridgeshire. I was a child, aged about 7 when the war started. I remember the day it started. My parents had talked about it beforehand so it wasn’t a complete surprise, and when it was announced on the radio, dad sat us down and said war had started. I remember wondering where they would fight; I thought it would be on the Huntingdon Road nearby, and that whoever won, it would all be over and back to normal in a few hours. I soon realised that it was going to be different from this.
We lived near an aerodrome. On several evenings the Germans would come over and try to bomb the airfield. One night there were Stirling bombers, and German planes were attacking them, and we were watching the battle in the sky from our bedroom windows. We didn’t think it was awful; it was just something interesting to watch. A plane crashed about a mile from house in a field. Next day all the children went and played there picking up bullets — nobody minded, we just took them home. Half of the crew baled out, and they must have taken the remaining bodies away first, before we got there. There were quite a few other crashes nearby, all within a mile. It was quite a dangerous place to live but better than London — our relatives there were bombed out. My grandmother in London went to live in the country, which was only 5 miles away then. She went out on a bus, and when the passengers heard planes they would all dive into a ditch, and then when the planes had gone they got back on the bus and kept going.
I remember seeing adverts for bananas and we never had any, and I wondered if we would ever get any. I’ve still got my ration book. We had sweets just once a month, and adults like our uncle would save sweets and bring them for us because he didn’t have children.
I was in a youth club and we were allowed to play tennis on courts in the grounds of a local hospital. We were playing tennis, on the day war finished - VE day — and a window opened on the second floor and a patient shouted out, “The War’s finished! You’re all getting a day off school.” We were more excited about the day off than anything else.
During the war, Dad was joint winner of a prize in the local annual flower show. He had the choice of a chicken or pair of Japanese cloisonné vases; the other person had the vases and Dad chose the chicken; food was more important. The lady who had donated the vases said they were very valuable — but we were still glad we had the chicken.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
End of War 1945 Category
Cambridgeshire Category
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