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Melba Wilkins - Memories of a different life altogether

by ActionBristol

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Melba Wilkins
Location of story: 
Cheddon road, Taunton, Somerset UK
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 September 2005

I was 9 when war broke out. We had 6 Americans billeted with us, for several months at a time, waiting for the Normandy landings. They were all very pleasant and so well behaved. They were with the US Navy Flyers based at Dunkerswell and were there to cover the shipping in The Channel.
I think most of them were killed (including Kennedy's brother)

I remember that the US cook used to sometimes bring back ice cream and peaches for us ! There was an American Italian who was always getting into trouble. I remember he pulled the chain and the cistern fell on his head !

My father was involved in fire watching in Taunton. He was very strict. I looked older for my age and we used to go out in the blackout - but he never knew !

Only one or two bombs were dropped on Taunton. It was protected by the hills.

The surgeons working at Musgrove Hospital were billeted opposite us.

We missed out a lot as children. Things were rationed until 1954 and we had a mania for clothers.

My mother took in a Mrs Steer from Canada, who had come over to visit her sister. Although her husband insisted she return to Canada - she couldn't get back because of the risk of being torpedoed. She stayed with us for 2 years with her son, leaving her husband and 3 daughters behind.
When she eventually returned via New York, she was shocked to see all the fruit rotting in the streets.

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