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A Child's Memories of War

by Action Desk, BBC Radio Suffolk

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Action Desk, BBC Radio Suffolk
People in story: 
Bettine Dosser, Anne Mobbs, Stanley and Renee Catchpole
Location of story: 
Ipswich, Suffolk
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 July 2005

It was September 14th 1939. It was my second birthday. My parents had planned to take me to the beach (either Felixstowe or Southwold) as a treat, but when we got there barbed wire had already been placed stopping the public going on the beach. That was my first introduction to WW2. Many memories come flooding back as I lived in Ipswich quite near Norwich Road Bridge (which was a target). Many house were damaged and I can remember walking down Norwich Road and seeing the house on the corner of Lister Road with then entire front missing. Torn curtains billowing in the breeze and all the normal contents of a house exposed; unmade beds, ornaments strewn — awful.

Some of us had the table shelters in our living rooms and the mother of a friend of mine was leaning to push her children into their when the siren went off and a piece of shrapnel caught her and sliced off her leg. She did survive. I lived in Castle Road and there was an almighty bang one night when a doodle bug had caused an explosion on the corner of Norwich Road/Castle Hill, and the next morning there was a huge crater. A church stands on the spot now. I often wonder about it. As a small child, before we had our shelter, if the siren went we sat under the stairs — that is Mum and I — Dad was on duty in the Home Guard.

Mum would recite nursery rhymes to me and I can remember she stopped when the doodle bug went over, waiting for the hum to stop, but she never said anything. My friend Anne and I used to be paid a few coppers each morning to clear up the broken glass.

I had bronchitis and slept downstairs. The first night, my bedroom ceiling came down right where I would have been sleeping. As I grew old enough to go to school, I went on the bus from Castle Hill to Valley Road and I remember the American airmen in their beautifully cut blue/grey uniforms. They used to say “want some chewing gum”. We all adored those handsome, smiling men. I recall being on a bus with my mother and her telling me to stand up and the gentleman sit down. These men wore bright blue suits with white shirts and red ties, and mum said it was a sign they had been wounded in the war. They were our soldiers and we respected them. We saw land girls in the town too, looking great in their uniforms of green jumpers and corduroy breeches and big hats. I loved the barrage balloons. One landed on a house down out road and I thought it looked like a sleeping elephant.

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