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A Brighton Boy's War Story, December 1940

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Norman Foord
Location of story: 
Whitehawk, Brighton
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4144637
Contributed on: 
02 June 2005

Dec 1st
I went out and played stick and wheel this morning. I went to church this afternoon. The siren was on and we never heard the all clear. When I came out I went out with my mother and father. I had watercress and sardines for tea.

Dec 2nd
The siren went about eleven and the all clear went about eleven forty five. We came in from play and the siren went until home time.

Dec 3rd
My mother made my pudding today. We built a fort outside on the green and played stick and wheel. About half past five I took some meat to a lady along the road.

Dec 4th
Mr Gordon said this morning that we were not to use the word ‘then’. He made us laugh very much. He said ‘I went up the hill. Then I walked around the bushes. Then I found a tin can. Then I gave it to my mother.’ I went out with my mother and father today.

Dec 5th
We had lectures this morning and I told about a floating dock. I played stick and wheel this afternoon. I had radish and beetroot for tea.

Dec 6th
The siren went this morning but it didn’t last long. I went out with my mother today. I had my hair cut. We went into my aunt’s and she gave us our Xmas presents. We gave her a tin kettle.

Dec 7th
We were doing a test this morning and the gong went. It was our P.T. lesson and Mr Gordon never heard it. We finished our test and he asked if the gong had gone. We said it had so he said we needn’t change our clothes. No sooner had he said this when the gong went for playtime. About five to twelve the siren went. There we saw nine aircraft making smoke screens. I didn’t know whether they were ours or German. I saw Donald Groves in the playground and he told me how to make a ‘gaslight’. He said you take a toothpaste tin and make a hole in the top. Put some small pieces in it. Set fire to it and it will make a ‘gaslight.’ I tried it but it didn’t work. I saw Leslie Voak this afternoon.

Dec 8th
I went to Sunday School this afternoon. When I came out I made a winter warmer. This is a paint tin with some smouldering rag. Of course the tin has to have some holes in it or it wouldn’t burn. I went down Wilson’s Park and played stick and wheel. The siren went tonight and the bombers have started to fly over.

Dec 9th.
I went out this afternoon with my father. I bought my mother something but I mustn’t tell about it or my mother would find out what it was. I bought two bars of soap and a toothbrush. There was only one article I could obtain and that was a sixpenny box of ‘Top Hat’ chocolates for my Grandma.

Dec 10th.
I made my winter warmer again this afternoon. I tried the ‘gas light’ which Donald Groves told me about. I found my mistakes and this is what they are. First of all you are not to take it off the fire and you must hold a piece of burning paper over the smoke. The one I tried out tonight was successful. London hasn’t had the siren since Sunday night. Our troops in Egypt have captured four thousand Italian troops.

Dec 11th.
We had two siren s this morning, one about ten past nine and the other about twelve o’clock. Two bombers kept circling around the back of our house. The siren went tonight. I tried out the ‘gas light’ which Donald Groves told me about. My father went to a butchers meeting at four and came home at eight. I made an egg stand because our pullet has begun to lay. When I went out about seven I heard a lot of machine gunning. The number of Italian troops now captured is 6000.

Dec 12th.
The siren went about half past eleven this morning. I finished the egg stand because the legs were wonky. Our pullet laid its second egg today. Italian troops now captured number 20000. Our troops captured Sidi Barani about 60 miles into Egypt.

Dec 13th.
Mr Gordon gave us a book each to read. We will change our books if we have read them on Thursday. My book is called ‘Great Men of History’. I went out with my mother this afternoon and she bought me two things. I went up to my aunt’s and gave her a Xmas present which was a bar of soap. Our pullet laid another egg today.

Dec 14th.
I went to my grandmother’s and gave her and my aunts presents which were a toothbrush and a packet of sweets. We went into Boots and had our tea. We had bread and butter with watercress or tomato or ham or paste or fish on it. I had a cup of tea and one and a half cakes.

Dec 15th.
I went to church this afternoon and the minister gave me a book for texts. It was called ‘The Gospel Stamp Album’ and I had to pay a penny for it. I have three stamps in it. The first is Jesus riding to Jerusalem on a donkey. The second is an angel blowing a trumpet. The last has John the Baptist in prison. All these stamps are to do with advent which means ‘the coming’.

Dec 16th.
Early this morning my father found an egg in the chicken house. I went out with my father this afternoon to the food office. We made a stand to put our six penny candle in which is 14 inches high.

Dec 17th.
The greens won this morning so that the blues have won two and a half times, the yellows once, the greens once, and the reds half. I’m in the blues. Our men captured Solbum on the Egyptian-Libyan border today.

Dec 18th.
I saw two fighter aircraft this afternoon and I believe they were ‘Whirlwinds’, the latest fighters we have got. I also saw a Lockheed B17 Hudson bomber. My father killed five cockerels this afternoon. My mother and father and I helped to pluck them. Tonight I helped my father to truss them.

Dec 19th.
I was walking along the street this afternoon when I heard a load of machine gunning which sounded as though it was coming from the golf links. Soon after I heard field guns firing. My father killed two chickens this afternoon for a lady.

Dec 20th.
My father killed a rabbit this afternoon. Mr Gordon gave me a sixpence this morning because our team won.

Dec 21st.
I saw 16 aircraft make smoke screens this afternoon. I also saw two bombers when the siren was on. I went out with my barrow this morning as we have got a holiday.

Dec 22nd.
I went to church and got another stamp this afternoon. It was John the Baptist holding a cross. After that I went again to church with my mother. It was freezing all day and before I went to church with my mother. I trod on the ice at the top of our garden and my right foot went through it and get wet.

Dec 23rd.
I went out with my mother this afternoon to the Brighton Butchers Buying committee and showed her where it was. We bought another large candle but it was green. We bought another present for my father but if I write what it is my father will read my diary and find out what it is.

Dec 24th.
The man next door bought his chicken in for my father to weigh. He said that his son John said,
“Oh dad, why hasn’t the chicken got three legs because I want one?”

Dec 25th.
As today is Christmas I had my presents. As soon as I woke up I went up to my father with my things which were in a pillow case. I had a ‘Rover Annual for Boys’ from my mother and father and another book called ‘Aircraft Identification’. I also had three boxes of chocolates and a slab of chocolate. My father helped me to make an electric motor but it didn’t work this morning.

Dec 26th.
My aunt came over to dinner and tea today. We played bagatelle, whist, donkey, and snakes and ladders. I went out with my father and bought a sixpenny packet of stamps which contained one hundred stamps. I have got 1123 stamps.

Dec 27th.
It was cold this morning so I stayed in and made a drawbridge. I went out with my mother this afternoon and we bought two pounds of chicken corn……and two new years cards.

Dec 28th.
I tried out my racing bike today. The tyres were flat so I had to pump them up. I had to pump up my back tyre when I found my valve rubber had a hole in it.

Dec 29th.
My father adjusted my brakes this morning. We had two eggs from our chicken today. We now have had 22 eggs from them.

Dec 30th.
My mother went out and helped to do some butchers cleaning for my father. My father wasn’t well today so he went to bed after dinner.

Dec 31st.
I cleaned the shed windows this morning. It has been pouring.
I went down the street and posted the letters. As I was near the library I thought I would go to see if I could get a book to suit me. I was unlucky because it was shut.

Norman was a pupil at Whitehawk Primary School in Brighton and his diary was typed by Donna at Brighton History Centre and has been added to the site with his permission. Norman fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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