- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Patricia Bane, Beatrice and Alec Smith (parents) May Sims (grandmother)
- Location of story:
- Rochester, Kent
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 July 2005
When the war broke out I was three, that was the phoney war, when they all went over to France. The first recollection I have is seeing the suitcases packed, ready for my sister and I to be evacuated to America. At the very last moment my mother said 'no, they are not going.' The ship that we were suppossed to sail from Southampton went down, it was hit by a torpedo. It wasn't till a few years later I realised it was the ship my sister and I were due to board.
We were sent to my Grandmother's in Ramsgate in Kent, thinking that was the safer option. But we were bombed. There were no windows left in any of the houses. There was glass everywhere. My aunts were there, they were all screaming. But we were in an Anderson shelter in the garden, so we were all safe. Other people screaming scared me, but as a child, you can adapt to anything. I didn't really realise the density of the situation.
My father worked in Shorts factory building aircrafts. He had an accident when I was young which gave him a head injury, which prevented him from going to war, because he had black-outs. But he still worked in the factory. Everyone did something.
When my parents picked myself and my sister up to take us home we were bombed again. It was the same as before, glass everywhere. We had a bomb shelter in our garden there too, thats where we spent most of our nights.
Before the invasion, there were lots of soldiers in Ramsgate. My Grandmother was a very maternal lady. All the soldiers became her children. She used to cook them meals, provide a family life. She had five daughters who obviously enjoyed this time! She had four sons as well. The eldest one was in the navy. He came back safely. In fact, we lost no-one in our immediate family, only a distant cousin. He was only eight, he died in the bombing.
I have wonderful memories as well as the black ones. My father made a little stove for me, painted it and everything. It had saucepans, frying pans. We put cotton wool buds inside the holes where the pans go and then put some metholated spirits on top, (I don't recommend doing so now!!) and took it down to the shelter after raided my mothers pantry. We took the entire weeks ration of bacon and cooked it-and burnt it of course! The neighbour thought the shelter was on fire because of the smoke. We were just sat in there with tears coming down our faces. I never saw that cooker again!!
I had quite a happy childhood, with a large family around me. I was very lucky.
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