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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Janet R Moodie
Location of story: 
Linthorpe Middlesbrough
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 April 2004

I had a new pram, a chrome pushchair. My big cream pram, with the strong leather straps, had been requisitioned for the war effort. The well in the bottom had been opened up and packed with various provisions. The hood, with its bold brown and white braid, was left up. Snapped drum tight with the chrome clips. Pillows and blankets were folded neatly inside. Then all covered over with the apron. There it was, parked by the back door ready and waiting.

I was woken in the middle of the night, swung up onto my mother’s hip and roughly covered within her coat. My brothers scrambled about getting dressed
pulling on their wellies. Their eyes wide with the excitement of being up in the middle of the night. I just wanted to be warm and to go back to sleep.

My mother sat me on top of the pillows in the pram, then opened the door onto the black night. Large snowflakes danced to the haunting sound of the wailing sirens, swirling, nearly obliterating the icy path that glistened its way towards the shelter. The Anderson shelter was hidden at the bottom of the garden covered with the statutory eighteen inches of soil on the top of the corrugated roof.

My mother had christened the pram ‘The Ghost Train’. This night was its maiden voyage. I hung on as it slipped and trundled over the ice and passed the petrified army of Brussel sprouts which stood erect outside the hidden door.

Huddled safe inside we lit candles and the little stove. Soon, the aroma of cocoa mingled with the smell of damp soil, permeating the rubber smell of my Mickey Mouse gas mask.

We sat waiting for the tin kettle to boil and listening to the dull drone of the enemy aircraft overhead. We huddled even closer when we heard the rumbling explosions towards the town. The bombing raid was well and truly underway.

After what seemed an eternity, the ‘All Clear’ siren sounded and the snowy air filled with the smell of sulphur and burning. The bells of the fire engines rang in the distance.
We took off our gas masks and held our frozen hands around the cocoa cups slowly sipping the hot, frothy liquid.

Janet R Moodie

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