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My War time memory

by ateamwar

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Maria Browne,William John Cowan-Browne
Location of story: 
Liverpool (Edge Hill) L7, Merseyside
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 August 2005

Many thanks for all those concerned in the V.E. Day celebrations at the Adelphi Hotel on the 13th May.05. My mother sister and myself had a wonderful afternoon — very nostalgic, a little tearful- particularly for Mum who will be 90 this year.
I was 10 years old when the War ended- the eldest of three.

Here are some memories:

As the eldest, I was very often sent to local to take Mum’s place in the queues, which were everywhere. On V.E. Day, I was sent to the corner bread shop (Blackledges) with B.U’s (Bread units) and 2 ¾ d (two pence and three farthings) of a Vienna loaf —as usual a queue. A lady rushed in shouting THE WAR IS OVER at which everybody started to shout, hug, kiss and cry. My only thought was Dad will be coming home — I left the shop and rushed to tell mum, but neighbours were already in the street celebrating — an unforgettable day.

Mum and neighbours sitting in the evenings cutting into strips unwearable coats, jackets, trousers, blankets and making rugs — which started my lifelong love of craft work. (Recycling isn’t a new idea).

An official came one day to demonstrate a gas mask for my baby brother- 7/8 months old at that time. It was like a small crib with a plastic hood. Once Baby was in, a covered lid was pumped from the side. Mum thanked him and said ‘no THANK you’- her baby was suffocated in it. So my brother had to take his chances with the rest of us.

Corporation men came to take away our front gates telling Mum it was for the WAR EFFORT and it would be replaced after the War. 2005 — we are still waiting.

As children we often sat on a small wall at Edgehill rail Station watching Italian P.O.W’s cleaning and clearing up rubbish from the tracks and embankments since the station was often a target of the Luftwaffe.

Finally the wonderful way Mum’s had their own black market
.e.g. Swapping things from ration book to ration book.

People helping each other out in a crisis.

There were substitutes for some goods e.g. Potato — POM — a powered version rather like ‘SMASH’. Powered / dried egg, could not use it for baking but it was more scrambled / omelette and there’s more.

I trust a little of this will make sense Catherine Cookson I ain’t!

P.S. A V.J. Day would be lovely.

My father William John Cowan-Browne B.S.M.R.H.A. was one of four serving brothers — two serving sisters. My father was decorated for gallantry in Belgium, his youngest brother decorated for gallantry in Italy. I am very proud of my family’s contribution to the war effort.

‘This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his/ her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.’

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