- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Jean Maughan, Frank Maughan & Mary Maughan
- Location of story:
- Barnard Castle, County Durham
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 03 May 2005
I was 6 years old when war was declared.I lived in Barnard Castle-a small market town in Teesdale.My mother told me that war had been declared,but at 6 years old,I had no idea what that meant.
I remember going to tell my friends vividly,because we were all swinging on a farm gate at the top of the street where I lived.
Life began to change.Barnard Castle was a garrison town and the young conscripts were marched through on their way to the front.I can remember thinking what a lot of short men there were.It was shocking to see my mother cry-"someboddie's bairns,somebodie's bairns"
The evacuees arrived next.There were groups of children led round the streets and inspected by the locals.
Our school day was halved.The local children attended in the morning and the evacuees in the afternoon.Sometimes,we were taken on nature walks when we mixed more freely.Some town children had never seen a rabbit let alone sheep and hens.
It was bitterly cold in the winter and there was no coal a lot of the time as the miners would have been called up.
I can remember how inadequate the evacuees clothing was.
I loved Barnard Castle with its medieval streets and beautiful woods,so was upset when I was told we were to move to Newcastle.So while most of the population moved to the country for safety, we moved to an industrial town.
What a culture shock that was.
My new school had air raid shelters and we were all drilled in how to use them-in an orderly fashion at a fast walking pace.Gas masks were put on as soon as you got inside.
If there had been an air raid through thenight,you were allowed to have the following morning off school.
We didnt have an air raid shelter,so we used to run across the back lane to a neighbour' shelter.If it wasnt too full,the children would lie down to sleep,but sometimes it was sitting or standing room only.
The adults would make comments like"one of ours" or "just shrapnel flying around "or "Sunderland must be getting it bad tonight"
The air raid wardens would shout down "Are you alright"One poor warden was shaking and weeping and one of the old ladies took him in and cuddled him like a child.The bombardment noise must have sounded like the first world war battles.I don't think shell shock had been recognised then.
There was always a competition at school to see who had found the biggest piece of shrapnel.
Clothes were rationed and I could never remember having anything new,but there were parcels sent to me from relatives,and then we sent the clothes on after I had outgrown them
We had food but it was very monotonous and tea was always jam and breadA neighbours dog once ran off with some meat my mother had been saving for relatives
We used to have junket every day and I have been unable to eat it since
It must have been so hard for the adults then,but they always seemed to keep a brave face.
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