- Contributed by
- Stockport Libraries
- People in story:
- Elizabeth Goodwin
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 July 2004
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Elizabeth Perez of Stockport Libraries on behalf of Elizabeth Chapman and has been added to the site with her permission. She fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
All of us, in the years 1939-45 were very definitely "involved", in however small a way, in the war.
My grandmother in those days lived in a large, rambling, rather dark Victorian house on Stockport Road West in Bredbury. Her family were married except for one daughter, my aunt, and they lived together there for many years. Sons and grandchildren had been called up for National Service, so that much letter-writing and knitting for the troops went on here. The ornate iron railings surrounding the front garden were removed and went to be melted down for weapons as did thousands of others. Even the house joined in the war!
On the living-room wall was a huge map of the European theatre of war dotted about with flags. My grandmother listened every day to the wireless bulletins and moved the flags appropriately as the reports of various army movements came in. She took a very lively interest (as of course we all did) in what was happening in Europe and as those of us old enough to remember will know there were some very dark days indeed!
One of her grandchildren, one of my cousins, was in the A.T.S. (Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service). She drove “top brass” military personnel about to important military engagements “somewhere in England”. It was in this capacity she was to meet her future husband. He was an Austrian who had fled from the Nazi regime and its reign of terror in Vienna. He had joined the British Army on reaching England and became very valuable to them because he was bilingual and did much important translation work for them. Tragically, most of his family had perished at the hands of the Germans because they were of Jewish decent.
Another son, my uncle, my father's younger brother, was in the British Army, but luckily for him, never moved out of Britain. He was a first-class musician and was enlisted in the military band belonging to his unit where he remained until "demobilisation" after the war. As mentioned before, my father was engaged in work of national importance and remained in what was called a "reserved occupation".
Another cousin was to die very tragically and heroically in Italy, at Salerno. There was a special citation for bravery and he was awarded the Military Medal posthumously. He was only twenty-four years old.
The very young end of the family, of which I was one at that time, were still at school. There was in existence a junior training scheme for those who had their sights set on a National Service career. For the girls it was the W.A.J.A.C.’s (The Women’s Junior Air Corp), and for the boys there was the A.T.C. (the Air Training Corps), which of course still flourishes today. There was great enthusiasm and we were all proud of our uniforms. The first thing I remember learning about in the WAJACS was the “twenty-four hour clock” (absolutely essential in military timetables) and the Morse Code! It was all important preparation for possible future service in the women’s national Forces.
Mother and aunts and grandmothers went on knitting, "making do and mending" and wrote abroad to service personnel regularly. And over all, there remained the air-raids, the "black-out", the fuel rationing, the clothes rationing and the food rationing. You had to grin and bear it! But we all got by!
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