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George and Sid's War Time Village as Children

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
George Brace Sidney Brace
Location of story: 
Eltisley Cambridge
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
10 December 2005

Sid Brace (Left) and George Brace (Right) December 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Mike Langran of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of George Brace and his brother Sidney Brace and has been added to site with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.

When War was declared, George was seven and Sid was six years old. We lived in a small village in Cambridgeshire. The actual war itself seemed irrelevant to us at the time. We can remember going to school with our gas masks over our shoulders, having ration books, and going down to the shop for our quota of bananas, oranges and sweets.
All the older men in the village were in the Home Guard or the A.R.P. Our father was in the Home Guard. To begin with they had broomsticks and garden tools as weapons until they were issued with guns and grenades. One gentleman, who was sometimes unaware of things he did, pointed his Sten gun at everyone he met saying “This is a wicked little weapon” God knows what he would have done if the Germans had arrived.
During the War we had two evacuees, (George who was twelve and Fred, six years old) with us from Croydon. They arrived at Cambridge station and were taken round the villages by bus. A certain number were distributed to each village, Fred the younger one, would say at each village “I don’t like the look of this place, its rubbish” and would not get off the bus. They eventually arrived at Eltisley and George had a job to persuade Fred to get off the bus. We had to sleep two to a bed, we were all treated the same, if we behaved badly we got a slap but if it was worse, then we got the belt. We worked on the farm on Saturday mornings and school holidays cleaning out the chickens and pigs. At harvest time we would lead the horse and cart, drive tractors, cut the corn with binders. When school term started we would get an extra two weeks for potato picking, we had to have a blue card for this. They were two very good lads, after the War when the evacuees went home, George by then had left school and worked on the farm so he stayed behind until he was kicked by a horse and had to go to hospital. Then he decided to go home.
Before the evacuees we had a forestry worker staying with us. A young woman (in her late teens or early twenties) came from Nottinghamshire. The forestry workers job was to cut tree’s from the local woods that would be used as Pit Props. If mum put us to bed for being naughty, the forest girl would come to us and read a story.
We only had one bomb drop in Eltisley parish and that was by one of our own aircraft because it couldn’t land safely.
One of the great joys was to watch the convoys of army Lorries and tanks going by. One lorry from such a convoy ran over our pet cat and the soldier/driver stopped his vehicle, picked up the cat and laid it on the side of the road. We thought that was a very kind gesture from a man who was in the middle of a war and trained to kill. The yanks use to throw chewing gum and biscuits from the backs of their Lorries when the children were beside the road. If the soldiers stopped in the fields for any length of time, we use to exchange bread for bully beef as they only had the hard biscuits and we couldn’t get corned beef.
One shopkeeper dumped fireworks in the village pond. Young lads then found them and went further into the village and started to let them off in a tin hat to make more noise. The village Policeman heard the bangs and found where they were being let off and confiscated them with a good stern telling off of the lads. These fireworks were then let off at the VE celebrations at Croxton Park

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