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- Ann Foulger
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- 30 September 2005
I was born in 1938 and 1941 is probably as far back as I can remember. My father had joined the RAF and was trained as a rear gunner. He caught pneumonia so missed being posted with the rest of his course, probably very fortunately for him as the life expectancy of a rear gunner was very short. Subsequently, he trained recruits in the RAF Regiment.
In our garden in Barnet we had an Anderson shelter, a semi-circular construction, cold and damp inside with benches to sit or lie on. When the sirens sounded, my mother shepherded my sister and I into the shelter with an aunt and cousin who used to spend the nights with us. I remember my sister and cousin (both three years older than me) frightening me with tales of huge spiders that were in the shelter. Before my mother came into the shelter, she always made a big jug of cocoa regardless of where the bombs were dropping! She and my aunt would then pass the time by knitting furiously.
Eventually we had a Morrison shelter which was a large table which took up most of our living room and we slept underneath it. My mother hung blankets over the side so that it was dark and we would go to sleep. She was a dressmaker and used the top of the table for cutting out on. Some of her customers lived in London and I remember we all went up to London one day to deliver something that she had made. There was a huge amount of bomb damage, large craters where buildings had stood and odd walls left standing with the wallpaper still on them. As we travelled on the Underground, the platforms were crowded with people who had taken shelter there and were lying or sitting against the walls.
My father was posted to Sidmouth in Devon and eventually we left Barnet to join him there where we lived with a lady and her baby. I remember it as a happy time. I started school there and after school we would go down to the beach. There were a lot of defences along the beach, like scaffolding, but by climbing round the groyne we could reach the sandy beach after clambering over the rocks.
One night the sirens sounded and we were bundled out of bed and into the cupboard under the stairs, two adults, two children and the baby, where we spent the night. When my father came home in the morning, he said it had been an exercise and not the real thing. My mother was not amused!
When we returned to Barnet towards the end of the war, we all had to carry our gas masks everywhere we went and had to practise putting them on ar school. I came home from school one lunchtime and my mother had managed to get some bananas. I ate part of one and was violently ill all afternoon. I have never liked them since! Occasionally, on a Saturday, we were allowed to go to the sweet shop and choose two ounces of sweets each for which we had to hand over our sweet ccoupons.
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