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Wartime Memories of an Eight Year Old

by csvdevon

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Patricia Joyce May Burt (nee Ward), May and Vic Ward
Location of story: 
Tottenham, North London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 August 2005

This story has been written onto the BBC People’s War site by CSV Storygatherer Louise Smith on behalf of Patricia Burt. The story has been added to the site with their permission and Patricia Burt fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.

I lived in Tottenham, North London throughout World War II.

My first memory of the war was on 3rd September 1939 when the siren went — a horrible, wailing, terrifying sound and none of the grownups thought to explain to a small girl of almost 8 years, why we didn’t have to put on our gas masks.

Later schools were closed but I did have some lessons in a local meeting house. When I was of an age to attend the Grammar School, when the sirens sounded we went to the shelters and continued with our lessons. One time whilst we were in there, the local boys’ Grammar School was bombed — there were many casualties.

At home we had an Anderson shelter in the garden — my Mother grew marrows on the top. My Father took doors off cupboards to make beds for us to sleep on in the shelter. Life seemed to us children o carry on as normal even though my father was called up for the Army (pronounced A1 fit even though he suffered every winter with bronchitis). When a doodle bug’s engine stopped overhead, we knew we would be safe as it carried on for some way before exploding. The air-raid sirens were invariably late in sounding, so we had no prior warning. This was particularly true in the case of V2 rockets.

My other main memory was having ‘banana’ sandwiches as a special treat — mashed parsnip with sugar!

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