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War, The Hardship Years

by derbycsv

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mr J Woodward, Mr Ernest Woodward, Mr Frank Woodward
Location of story: 
Derby and the Burmese Jungle
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Odilia Roberts from the Derby Action Team on behalf of Mr J Woodward and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

My story began in 1940 when the war was in its second year. We had very little food and everyday comforts were scarce.

One of my uncles was called up to go and do his basic training at an army camp. Because he lived with us this eased the food shortages when he left for 6 weeks training. We heard nothing for a few weeks until one day he turned up unexpectedly for his dinner because he had got unexpected leave.
We were frantic because we didn’t have any extra food in the house to give him. Suddenly I had an idea and sent my granddad to go and did up a cockerel that had died the week before. It was buried in the garden. After we had plucked and cleaned it the bird was cooked and served to my uncle. No one else would eat any of the meat.
That cockerel kept us fed for a whole week and no one refused to eat it after a couple of days because there was no alternative during a war as hunger came before pride.
Every part of the bird was used and it became a family story that was passed down through the family.

Eventually my dad went to war and we stayed in a Burma jungle for 4 years. When he came home his hair was pure white. He had nightmares about his mates being shot by the Japanese. Once a year my dad suffered with malaria, he would become delirious and coherent. He would never talk about the war and this is why I decided to write the story for the BBC People’s War website.

I could not imagine ever having to fight in a war, and my dad’s memories about having to listen to his friends being tortured by the Japanese so they would shout out their names. The Japanese would then look for any soldiers that tried to rescue their friends and shoot them.

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