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15 October 2014
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Little Shelford

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Rosie Joyce Collick, William John Henry Collick (husband), James Pearl (brother).
Location of story: 
North Africa, Italy and Germany
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A5839662
Contributed on: 
21 September 2005

This is a Christmas Card sent to my mother from my husband.

(This story has been submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire's Action Desk on behalf of Rosie Collick and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Collick fully understands the site's terms and conditions).

My husband William was called up as soon as war started, he went into the Irish guards at the age of 20 and then went to Catrham Barracks. The first thing they did was shave his hair off. They were not allowed out of the gate for two weeks, after which he was sent to the White Cliffs of Dover guarding the coast line, as the German planes were coming over from France, at night German soldiers were coming over by boat. Our men took them as prisoners of war. Later on my daughter was born. He asked the sergeant if he could have some leave to come and see me, the answer was “don’t come here telling me your cats got kittens”, he then went to ask the Colonel for leave and he gave him two days. On the second day my husband said “I’m taking another day”. At 9 o’clock that night a police man knocked at the door and said to my husband, “you are a deserter, and I must see you go back at once”. When he told the police why he was home they said make sure you go back in the morning. On returning he had to go in front of the Colonel. He said the only thing I can do with you is put you on the next boat going abroad. That was his punishment, fighting in North Africa and Italy.

I had to go and live with my mother because I only received £2 - 2 shillings and sixpence a week to live on. Baby’s milk was 8 shillings a tin, two tins a week 16 shillings. Leaving me £1.6 — 6 pence to live on, £1.65 today. On returning home after 6 years in the war, I got a Post office savings book with saving of £77 for the six years. Then no home to go to of our own the men in the village that had come home from the war with no home squated in army huts, that had been put in every field in the village. They moved in wooden huts that had been put up for officers then the army was sent to take the roofs off, so they went to the next field, there were tin Nissan huts. Icicles hung inside in winter, it was freezing.

My brother James was in the army an ambulance driver taking some wounded soldiers to hospital in Crete; he was captured by the Germans and sent to Stalag 7. He never knew what happened to the wounded, we never heard from him for two years. I didn’t know if he was dead or alive.

The evacuees came to the village one winter night at 9 o’clock in Coaches from London. A knock came on my mother’s door and a lady stood there with two little boys. She asked my mother to take them in. I remember one was called Tommy Knighting from the East End of London. His mother came to see him one weekend with his littler sister who was two years old. She asked my mother is she could leave the little girl as they were being bombed. As we only had three bedrooms my mother pulled out a large drawer from the chest of drawers and made a bed in it for the girl in her bedroom. The two boys slept together in my brother’s room. The next day my mother was in the garden, when a lady came up the road with a little girl, the mother was crying. My mother asked her what was the matter, she said she was from London and was staying up the road from us but she could not stay there because it was dirty. My mother took them in. The mother slept with me, her child in the middle and my daughter in her cot all in one room. They were glad to stay and when her husband who was in the Navy when he came home on leave he had to sleep on the settee downstairs.

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