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My War Years — 1939/45

by BBC Open Day

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Open Day
People in story: 
Monica Millner
Location of story: 
Slough, Bucks and Sudbury, Suffolk
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 November 2005

My baby was born in October 1940. My Husband had enrolled 1939 and was sent aboard, I knew not where in September 1940. Waiting for the baby to arrive on my own, during nightly air raids, near slough, Bucks, and dashing into the garden air raid shelter every night was not fun. My daughter was born with a hole in her heart, and her first year was a difficult one.

I decided to live with my daughter, in a community of five families, in an old manor house in Sudbury, Suffolk. We all had children and shared the housekeeping, cooking and childcare. We had a large walled garden, and grew all our own fruit and vegetables. We had chickens and bees, so we were always busy in the garden. We spent a lot of time preserving fruit and vegetables for the winter. We shared out rations, and five families butter, sugar and meat seemed to go further when it was pooled. It was a good way to spent those difficult years and we listened with horror each day to the radio hearing about the bombing raids in London, or Coventry or where ever. Later in the war the doodlebug bombs would whistle over our heads each night on the way to an air base five miles away.

Amazing things happened over those years, one such was the formation of Mrs. Churchill’s Aid to Russia Fund, when Russia was fighting with us. ‘We all formed a local group in Sudbury and had meetings and organised concerts to raise money. We had dancing in the streets with talks and lectures and made quite a lot of money for the fund.

Later in the war we came to London for the day on special occasions, one such to take part in demonstrations calling for a second front in Europe, in Trafalgar square. On another occasion I went to a lunchtime concert by Myra Hess, the brilliant pianist, playing Bach. That was a special treat.

I didn’t see my husband for four years, he was in intelligence with Montgomery in Egypt, Sicily, Italy and later France and Germany. When I did see him I found we had both changed, we seemed like different people. Our interests and priorities seemed to me different and I couldn’t imagine living a lifetime with him, so we parted. In the meantime I had met a man whom I had fallen in love with and we decided to make a life together. It was a sad break up, but I imagine war had broken up many relationships.

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