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15 October 2014
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War Declared on My Birthdayicon for Recommended story

by BurfordACL

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Doreen Foggett
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24 May 2004

My memory of September 3rd 1939 by Doreen Foggett:

As a child I often went to stay with an aunt and uncle and two cousins, Peggy and Glenys. They lived in Hayes in Middlesex, which we always called London. Living in a small village of Minster Lovell the busy town of Hayes seemed like London to me. So it was very happily my younger brother Gerald and I set off to London for the last two weeks of our summer holidays. I was almost 8 years old and totally unaware of the grim news of the impending war.

When we arrived in Hayes I did notice that all of the railings had been removed from the public gardens in our street, the flowers and shrubs removed and a strange, small building taken their place. These were explained as 'Air Raid Shelters'. I didn't really understand.

So half way through our holiday was my 8th birthday, Sunday September 3rd, 1939. After breakfast we all went to church except my auntie who stayed at home to cook dinner.

Church in these days was very different to today. We had to be quiet, not fidget and not to drop our collection pennies on the stone floor. So there we were, the vicar was giving the sermon and the only sound was his voice. Suddenly the door at the back of the church opened. Everyone turned round and to my horror there was my mother who I thought was at home in Minster Lovell. My uncle went to speak to her, then they both came and told us 4 children to come quickly. We all left the church and started to walk home.

I thought I had done something wrong and was being punished when my mother said we were going back to Oxfordshire immediately. It was only in later years that I realized the enormity of what had happened that September morning. So terrifying that my father had sent my mother in our chauffeur driven hire car to Hayes that morning with instructions not to stop for dinner, to get the children and come straight home.

To this day my memory of September 3rd 1939 was not the declaration of war but the shame and total disbelief I felt when my mother burst into church that morning and she didn't even say 'Happy Birthday' to me. When we got back to the house our bags were packed and we were quickly in the car and home to the safety of Minster Lovell.

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