BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in February 2012We've left it here for reference.More information

20 September 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site Print this page 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

My personal memories of World War 2

by CSV Solent

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Solent
People in story: 
Shirley Enid Peckham
Location of story: 
Berkshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5298267
Contributed on: 
24 August 2005

This story has been added to the People's war website by Marie on behalf of Shirley with her permission. Shirley fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

I was five when the war started in 1939, with two younger sisters. We lived with our parents in Crowthorne, Berkshire, near Crowthorne Farm.

I remember the siren that signalled the start of the war, which I think was during mid-morning on September 3rd, and only learnt its significance on asking my mother later. She said England was at war with Germany. I was too young for it to mean anything to me.

Gradually the idea of war sunk in for all the children in the village. We came to be issued with gas masks, along with our parents, but never had to use them for real. We were also issued with ration books, and certain food items and clothes came to be rationed. The children were only really concerned about having their sweets rationed!

Our curtains had to be changed for thick, dark-coloured ones, which had to be drawn well, before dusk, so that none of our gas-light showed outside to attract the enemy. German planes flew overhead, mostly at night. In stormy weather, at night, I sometimes didn’t know if I was hearing noises and seeing lights from enemy activity or the storm. They were frightening times and I lost a lot of sleep.

As time went on we had drills at school over what we had to do in any air raid while we were there. In the classrooms, this was mainly to get under our desks quickly and remain there until advised to come out. We did this periodically to get used to it. Also the classroom windows were covered permanently with something (I’m not sure what) to prevent the glass shattering if there was a raid. I don’t recall there being one, but several bombs fell in the area at spaced out times. One did a lot of damage and caused deaths at Wellington College in the village.

I think Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum (now Hospital) also in the village, came close to being hit by a bomb, if it actually wasn’t.

One bomb fell into a field, about a mile from my home, in Old Wokingham Road leaving a big crater. We had evacuees on two occasions. They were allocated to us by the authorities. On at least one of the occasions, a double-decker bus load of them was driven down our road and householders had no choice in who they had.

Ours were from London, as probably all were. The first time we had a man and his wife with their twin daughters of about my age. I can’t recall how long they stayed, but sometime after them we had a man and his wife with a two year old son. We didn’t get on very well with any of those concerned, because their personalities and way of life were so alien to ours, but we did our best.

My Dad, who was a skilled bricklayer, was late in being called up for service, I think because of his occupation.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy