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15 October 2014
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Seeing a mattress hanging out of a window

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Barbara Easton
Location of story: 
Leytonstone, East London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
31 August 2005

I was coming up to 11 when the war broke out and I’d just passed the scholarship and I was supposed to be going to a new school, but instead of going in the September, the month that the War broke out, I had to wait until November because they had evacuated a lot of the children and there weren’t really any teachers, because the teachers had gone with the children. It wasn’t until November that I was able to go to school for 2 hours a day. So we had a lot of homework, obviously.

Then the following July/August, when the blitz started, we were in the firing line. I was living in Leytonstone then which was quite posh compared with Stratford, but, just ordinary really. And everybody was issued with an Anderson shelter and my father managed to dig it a bit deeper and when the bombing started in September we went down there every night from then until Christmas. It was just my parents and I for starters, but we had to go down there by 6.00 and the siren would go and there would be waves, then it would be quiet, then there would be more bombs and the guns going off and I was scared out of my life. And then the next day, going to school, I would see the damage that was done and go home and cry every night. I don’t think it registered with me that perhaps people had lost their lives, but it was just seeing all these homes suddenly open, and you could see a mattress hanging out of a window or a window that’s not there any more. That was awful.

I tended to go to school and home on my own because that’s when we used to pick up the bits of shrapnel on the way and when we got to school we’d compare who’d got the biggest piece. I kept the shrapnel for a long time — it was quite sharp some of it, if it hit you on the head it wouldn’t have done you any good.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Sue Craig on behalf of Barbara Easton and has been added to the site with her permission. Barbara fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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