- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ida Smith
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 March 2004
This story was submitted with permission of the author, Ida Smith, on behalf of Age Concern Durham County.
My fiancé was serving in France with the BEF in 1939; he came home to be married on May 4th 1940. After 7 days leave, he returned to France. Once he returned, he was involved in the Battle of Dunkirk, but thankfully he was happy to come home, as thousands didn't.
Living in Seaham, we had many air raids and spent many nights in the Anderson air raid shelter in the garden. One Thursday while I was at work in a grocery shop there was an air raid. Instead of going to the air raid shelter, my friend and I stayed in the shop. I hid under the bread counter whilst the plate glass windows were blown out. Glass and soot was everywhere, tins rolled down from the fixtures. It was a very frightening experience. We should have known better and gone to the air raid shelter.
However, shop windows were replaced and boarded up, leaving only a small space with glass. We served our customers in the shop with rations. They were 2oz butter, 2oz of lard, 4oz of margarine and 4oz of bacon per week. A jar of jam, a quarter of tea was allowed once a month. A book with tokens was available for other products; these tokens were removed when a customer wanted to buy a product. For example, 24 tokens were given for clothing to last us the whole year.
Another major memory was the carrying of my gas mask everywhere I went, and there was a shortage of sweets, bananas and eggs. We used dried eggs and had dark bread; bread was also rationed long after the war ended.
I will always remember the sorrow we felt those days when airmen were shot down, ships were sunk and soldiers were killed. We had six hard years but we battled through and survived. In his latter life, my husband became Durham County chairman of the Dunkirk Veterans Association and we attended the anniversaries of Dunkirk in France. There were many tears shed whilst they remembered their friends who never returned to England after the conflict.
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