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School Days

by BBC Scotland

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Angela Gillen 25/12/34. Interviewed by P7 pupils of St. Ninian’s Primary School, Gourock as part of the national War Detectives project
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Contributed on: 
31 January 2006

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Catherine Garvie, Learning Project Manager at BBC Scotland on behalf of the Greenock War Detectives project and has been added with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.

In my school we didn’t have uniforms during the war and just wore what we had, usually a skirt and blouse.

All my teachers were very nice and not too strict. But if you misbehaved you got the strap, although this didn’t happen very often in primary school. In High School you got strapped much more.

Our teacher didn’t tell us much about the war in school. We were generally just made aware of security issues like keeping windows covered by heavy fabric (blackout curtains) and never showing a light of any kind at night. We had blackout curtains in our school, for the winter months when it would get dark quite early. The windows also had sticky tape across them so that if they got smashed during an air raid the glass wouldn’t spill into the classroom.

Of course, we had to carry a gas mask with us all the time, including when we were at school. I never liked the smell though, all that rubber. The younger children had fun gas masks with Mickey Mouse faces.

My school had a canteen and I got school dinners occasionally. They were very good and I remember eating yummy things like syrup sponge and custard.

There was a bomb dropped on the church next to where I lived. There was a big hole in the roof and my father told me it was made by an incendiary bomb that hadn’t exploded. This was quite dangerous so we were evacuated to Bridge of Weir and I had to go to school there. When we were first evacuated we had to sleep in the school hall on mattresses and had our meals in the school canteen. I can still remember the smell of the porridge. We were then billeted with a lady in Bridge of Weir.

I remember once, lots of oranges were found floating down the River Clyde. We had never seen oranges before, as you couldn’t get them during the war. We thought this was great and people thought it would be good to give them to the children for the vitamins. However, we were told not to eat them as it was thought they might have been contaminated and dropped in the river by German planes. Some people did eat them though and they were fine.

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