BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

The build-up to war

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
David Bell
Location of story: 
Canterbury
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4685538
Contributed on: 
03 August 2005

My first inkling that something strange and unusual was afoot was in 1939 when, at the grand old age of three-and-a-half years, my mother called me into the kitchen of our family home, where I lived with my father and mother in Canterbury, and offered me a banana. She told me to enjoy it and make the most of it because I was unlikely to see another for a very long time. She was right; seven years were to pass before I ate another banana. The occasion, like so many others in those extraordinary times, became etched on my memory.

All adults of that era feared the prospect of another war. My father had served in the artillery at the tail end of the First World War in 1918 and was partially deaf as a result. The huge carnage of that terrible War only twenty years earlier had left an indelible impression on the population. Many wanted no more war at any price. At 11.00 a.m. on Sunday, 3rd September 1939 people gathered around wireless sets (not everybody had one) for a special announcement by the Prime Minister. I was present when a group of friends and neighbours gathered in my parents' living room to hear the announcement. Everyone knew what was coming and the announcement by Neville Chamberlain that the United Kingdom and France were once again at war with Germany was greeted in stony silence. Everyone was in deep shock. I had no idea what it was all about but we were all stirred out of our reverie by the wailing of an air raid warning siren. Incredibly, some bright spark had decided to test the air raid warning system nationwide at that particular moment but had omitted to inform the public. It was the first of many fiascos but everyone assumed that the warning was for real. My parents' party and I ran in panic for the new air raid shelter only to be informed later by an air raid warden that it was only a practice. The whole nation had been fooled. What a start!

This story was added by a volunteer to the site on behalf of David Bell. David fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy