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Living with our soldiers

by epsomandewelllhc

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Gerald Wheatley
Location of story: 
Saxmundham, Suffolk
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 June 2005

The author of this story has understood the rules and regulations of this site and has agreed that this story can be entered on the BBC’s People’s War website.

It was 1940 at the start of the war and I was seven years old. The army had requisitioned our house and we were moved into the stable block. It had two very small bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. There was no bath so we had to put one in the kitchen, which, when it was not in use, was covered with a door and then became our kitchen table.

My two brothers and my sister were quite happy with this arrangement, because we were told it was necessary for the war effort and we knew the soldiers in the big house were far more cramped than us.

Life amongst the soldiers was always exciting. In the stable yard they had field cookers, which looked like dustbins with chimneystacks out of the back and coal fires underneath.

Inside there were large cauldrons where hot water was boiled for tea and cooking and the cover on top was just like a dustbin lid. We quickly got to know all the soldiers names and sometimes we were allowed to share dinner with them.

I remember they had use of most of the garden where they kept their field guns and we had the old kitchen garden. Some of the gates had OUT OF BOUNDS signs where the soldiers were not allowed, but we could go anywhere.

Everyday the soldiers had to collect their water from Saxmundham, because our well was not sufficient to supply everyone. This was another favourite of all us children and we used to take it in turns to accompany the tanker driver.

There were quite a few Americans nearby but we were most friendly with our soldiers, who said the Yanks had too much money!

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