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A Day in the Life of...

by joan hodskinson

Contributed by 
joan hodskinson
People in story: 
Mrs.Joan Hodskinson
Location of story: 
Altrincham, Near Manchester, in the year 1942
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 October 2003

I am six years old and trying to ignore my mother's call to get me and my brother out of bed. My bed has a duck feather mattress and is warm and cosy and I am reluctant to get up because of the terrible moments during the past night, which had left me very tired. The wailing noise of the siren had been the first intimation of trouble, followed by my panic that my mother would not come and get me in time before the planes started to come over. Shaking, I waited for her and she appeared having hastily got dressed. My siren suit was always there ready and she soon slipped this on me, telling my elder brother to follow us and we ran down to the large air-raid shelter under the stairs. The house was Victorian and the understairs space was very large.

On the shelves in the shelter were bottles of water, tins of food, blankets, pillows and a box of bandages etc. Having securely shut the door we sat on a mattress, wrapped in a blanket and waited. The droning of the enemy aircraft could clearly be heard and their mission was a munitions factory close to our house and even as children we knew the risk of our situation. My father was down in Bournemouth guarding the beaches there and we felt very alone without his presence.

That night we were lucky and although we could hear the crunch of the falling bombs we were unhurt and soon the all-clear siren sounded. Crawling back to bed at about 2pm we soon slept as all children will.

The morning was very cold and crisp frost had its hold on the previous three days snow. We had no coal the cart having been unable to get round because the horse could not keep its feet on the hard snowy ground. We ate toast sitting around an old lit gas oven and then left for school. There were no buses and no other form of transportation then and the two miles to school seemed interminable but once at school, sliding down the long long slide in the playground and laughing with our friends the war was soon forgotten the only problem being had we remembered our spelling from the day before!!

Arriving home we found joy upon joy that mother had managed to get to the coal merchants and brought back a bucket of coal on the old pram. The old blackened range in the kitchen had a fire burning in the grate and although we knew we might not have many more fires for a few weeks we luxuriated in it. Mother had made a stew from 2 oz of corned beef (the whole of the week's ration) and vegetables and oh how good that tasted. Far better than the soup mother often made from a boiled lamb's head. (I often wondered watching that head boil on the hob why sheep had such black teeth!)

After tea, homework and children's half hour on the radio we listened as mum read a letter from my father and I cried because I missed him so, it had been many months since I had seen him and I longed to hear him call me his 'poppsy' again. And then to bed, and I snuggled again into my downy bed and was soon asleep.

Shortly after midnight the sirens wailed ...................

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