- Contributed by
- Joan Wilcox
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- Joan Wilcox
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- Contributed on:
- 13 April 2004
On the Home Front
My husband was an Officer with the Royal Corps of Signals, and while he was stationed in this country I was able to be with him. The families we were billeted with made us very welcome - I think they felt that looking after us was their contribution to the war effort.
My happiest memory is the time we spent with a farmer and his wife in Lincolnshire. The war hadn’t touched that peaceful farm. There was no shortage of food but there was plenty of hard work. Gilbert was up very early to do the milking and Minnie never stopped either. There was no gas or electricity and so it was oil lamps for lighting and the kitchen range for hot water and cooking. There was no baker’s bread or butchers meat. Minnie did her own baking and the only meat was from the pig Gilbert killed twice a year. I wondered why Minnie served the pudding before the meat and the reason was apparently because after a dollop of steamed pudding they didn’t need to eat so much meat. Cream was a luxury as it was needed for making butter - churned by hand. There were plenty of eggs and chickens, of course, and turkeys at Christmas. The egg money was Minnie’s perks to keep for herself. So where was the war? You might well ask at market day in Spilsby which was quite an occasion for buying, selling and meeting friends with no planes zooming overhead.
The war came to the farm when a German prisoner of war came to live with Minnie and Gilbert for quite a while. We went to visit them when William was there and he and our little son became firm friends although neither could communicate with the other. William was a pig farmer but he couldn't persuade Gilbert to exchange his cows and sheep for pigs.
When our son was a baby I went to live with my in-laws at Penarth, a few miles from Cardiff and the bombs were there. My husband’s grandmother was killed by a direct hit on her house in Cardiff. My father-in-law was an air raid warden and it rather irked my mother in-law that her husband was on duty at the houses over the road and another warden came to look after her , but that was the way it was. It was a problem for me to decide whether to bring the baby down stairs when the siren went or leave him in bed to get his sleep. I think I mostly brought him down stairs where he had a wonderful time laughing and playing at 2 o clock in the morning. I can well remember pushing him to the shops one day and thinking that all I wanted in the world was a good night’s sleep. When my husband came home on leave he was thinking the same thing.
Shopping for food was dominated by ration books and if you saw a queue at the greengrocers, for instance, you joined it before asking what the queue was for . “There are tomatoes” we would hear, or perhaps bananas. I can remember when I gave my son his first banana as a great treat. He said it was slimy.
In 1944 my husband’s regiment was sent to India where he was quite ill wit h jaundice
But they were not sent to Burma and were flown home safe and sound.
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