- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Audrey Cusick
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 August 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Sue Sedgwick from and on behalf of Audrey Cusick and has been added to the website with his permission. Mrs Cusick fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I must have been somewhere between the ages of 5-10, living on an isolated farm in the Forest of Bowland at the edge of the fells. My first reaction was “But the war was nowhere near us!” Then the memories came flooding back.
Soldiers on the Farm
We were in a prime position for the army training. They came and took over our “stackyard” at the back of the barn as their base. I remember the cookhouse and as a small child I used to queue up with my plate. I loved the food! I think it must have been bean stew!! I always looked forward to the truck arriving with the stores. We could see it coming along the winding road and we knew there would be chocolate for us (I had a brother 4 years older than me). The chocolate was dark chocolate, which I didn’t particularly like, but I ate it all the same!
Other farm buildings were utilised. A small shippon at the end of the barn was used as a jail. It had a very small window and written across it in white paint was the word “jail”. I could spell jail from a very early age!
The recruits used to do their training in the forest at the rear of our farmhouse. They slept in the forest and years later I can remember seeing the hollows or trenches they dug out as part of their training.
Of course we didn’t see much action up in Bleasdale. We saw a German plane fly over our farm buildings one night. It dropped a bomb about 2 miles away in the village where I went to school. No one was hurt, but the children from the village were upset the following morning.
Talking about children at school, we had our share of evacuees and of course they brought with them infestations if lice in their hair. I think every child had caught head lice except my brother and myself. I was so disappointed! Then one night after the ritual combing my mother found some “nits”. I was overjoyed! At last I was like the others! Needless to say my mother wasn’t very happy.
There was a home guard manned by the local farmers. They met in the village hall. I think they got through more packs of playing cards than guns! I remember my dad’s greatcoat, which I had on my bed to keep me warm, but I can’t remember what replaced it when he went on duty.
I remember one night a German plane crashed on the fells near our farm. I can remember walking up to the fells and seeing the pieces of metal all lying around. I think all the women and children (girls) had new underwear and knickers after that- they were using the parachute material collected after the crash!
Before the war my Mother, Aunt and Grandmother used to take goods, eggs, chickens, rabbits etc. to market and I can remember my Mum taking eggs in to town in bags dishing out 2 or 3 to her long time customers. I can remember being told to say they were for the local hospital if we were ever challenged.
As well as soldiers at the farm we also had P.O.W.s who came each day in a bus.
I think they were Italian. They had a cabin in the forest and after they were gone at night I used to collect the empty fish paste jars and wash them to play with. They would probably be worth money now. The P.O W.s were not allowed to speak to us, but they made us toys like “pecking hens”, lovely wooden toys that they made in the spare time. They would leave them on the wall for us.
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