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15 October 2014
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The Outbreak of War

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Kenneth Sharpe
Location of story: 
Eastwood, Nottinghamshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 September 2005

When war broke out, I, an only child aged 8 ½, was living with my parents in Heanor, one of the hill towns of the Derbyshire- Nottinghamshire border. Whilst Neville Chamberlain was addressing the nation that Sunday morning- probably designated a National Day of Prayer- my parents and I were attending the Baptist Chapel in Eastwood. Such a family event was unusual, as my Sunday mornings and afternoons were customarily spent at our local Methodist Sunday School. I only ever accompanied my parents to Chapel in Eastwood on Sunday evenings, where we occupied a pew near that of my paternal grandparents. I have no knowledge of their regular Sunday morning routine, but that day grandma had certainly stayed at home to prepare the lunch.

After the service we walked the short distance to their home to see her. As we entered the kitchen, Grandma wearing her mob- cap and apron burst into tears, and addressing my Dad through her sobs blurted out "It's war, Arthur. It's war". No doubt memories of the previous conflict had broken through the surface of her stoicism. Remembering that the son she now faced had served in France as a non- combatant during the Great War, perhaps now her older grandsons might have to respond to a similar challenge?

"We're not going to leave you here like this," pronounced my Mam. "You are coming home with us for the rest of the day!" Grandma, having stated in the hearing of other family members that she could not live through another war, soon took to her bed. She died on 3 November 1939, aged 77.

This story was entered on The People's War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of Kenneth Sharpe. Kenneth fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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