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Willaims War Part 2

by ActionBristol

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
William Rorison Gray
Location of story: 
South West Scotland and Glasgow
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 July 2005

The village School only had 2 classes, three different years were taught by one teacher, he/she gave a task to two of the classes in their care and taught the third then set them a task and on to the next class, you can see that discipline had to be very strong or nothing would get done and so it was, you got told to stop talking once, next time you got the belt if you answered back and why not. You were there to learn, then on to the next classroom where the head taught you under the same strict regime, we were happy in this environment, we knew where we stood and we liked and respected the teachers, so when our turn came for the 11 plus exams most of us passed, but ALL of us could read, write and count, some better that others but we could all do it.

It was now 1942 and with 11 plus exams sat and passed my next school was a 5 mile journey away, farther my sister would have had to travel 16 miles, this gave our parents a problem, did we stay at Garlieston or for a benefit of a broader education did we return to the City?
The bombing continued and if anything got worse, but by now people had got used to it and had started to become blasé about it besides which the war was turning a bit in our favour, we had began to win some battles in the middle east, 1,000 bomber raids were now pounding the German heartland, Cologne was bombed and Berlin pounded, so with things appearing to be going our way a bit, the decision to return to the city was made.

A bit of light relief soap was rationed 9th Feb

Things had changed a lot during my stay away, there were great gaps in the buildings where bombs had struck, all the windows had been taped to prevent glass from shattering and wounding anybody close by, quite a few windows had been blown our and were boarded up.

I don't know what it was but there was a different feel to the city, people were friendlier, there were lady conductresses on the trams - that was strange - there were ladies driving the trams and that was stranger still. There were no street lights and though the old gas lights were still in position no light glowed from them, nor did the friendly lamplighter do his rounds night and morning, perhaps he was still taking the bayonet to the enemy or buried in the corner of some foreign field.

It was good to be home, look up all my old friends, attend Boy's Brigade meetings and take in all the changes, things soon fell in to a pattern, dinner at 6 school weekdays, BB Friday nights, Sunday school on Sundays.

But it wasn't all back to normal, 3 nights after coming home the sirens went off and the family moved to the cellar, which had been reinforced. We hardly had time to get into our sleeping bags when the bombs began to fall what a noise and one could feel the concussion - FRIGHTENING - that lasted about 2 hours and then it was back to bed.

Next morning as one travelled to school you could see the new gaps in the buildings, ARP and fireman clearing the sights, with a bit of luck they will have hit the school - no such luck school seemed to have there own protection.

One thing I didn't like about the air raids was the fact that father kept leaving the cellar and going outside to see what was going on, I think he was remembering his days in the first war in the trenches at Mons or on the beaches at Gallipoli remembering his long dead comrades.

After each raid we had an on going competition at school to see who could bring in the biggest piece of shrapnel and check to see that we were all still there unfortunately on a few occasion that was not to be and for that day there was a feeling of sadness in the class even if he hadn't been particularly liked.

So things went on we went on holiday to Garlieston in the summer, a lot of changes had taken place, a lot of men army and the harbour there were great concrete erections, as they were in a bay to the south of the village....all these areas were out of bounds but the guards didn't seem to mind us boys having a look at what was going on, then all of a sudden the structures disappeared, what we had been witnessing was the building of the barges and floating harbours that were so successful in securing success at the D Day landings.

Many another battle still had to be fought, we survived many more air raids then at last the war was won on May 8th 1945.

What a celebration my friends and I joined in the finishing up in the George Square, Glasgow, it was packed, people dancing and hugging and kissing each other, the music was unbelievable, everyone who had a musical instrument had brought it and it somehow it all blended in.

That was it, life carried on and although the war was now over in Europe, there was a feeling of emptiness and I felt all I wanted to do now was finish school and get out there and change the world.

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