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15 October 2014
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My Childhood in Devizes

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Paul Drinkwater
Location of story: 
Devizes, Wiltshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4519677
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

(This story was submitted to the Peoples War website by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire Action Desk at the Duxford VE Day commemorations on behalf of Paul Drinkwater and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Drinkwater fully understands the site's terms and conditions).

My father was a motor machinist which was a restricted occupation so he wasn't called up. He was repaired the local haulage lorries who transported ammunition and all the war stores. But everyone had a war job as well and he was in the home guard. I can remember poking about on top of the wardrobe and finding his Sten gun and ammunition. He would have had a fit if he found out as I was only 4 or 5 at the time.

We were out of the firing line, but I still have a bracelet with my name and address on in case we were invaded. I would have worn it and been returned home.

I can remember one day seeing a blackened sky that was covered all day with transport aircraft I must have been the Rhine Crossing or the Arnam Operation.

We had a German prisoner of war camp in Devices I can remember columns of them being marched up the street in the town looking forlorn, dishevelled and dejected. There were many top Nazi’s there in Devices. They planned a mass break out. It was due to happen in late 1944, aiming to link up with parachutist’s drops then March on the cabinet and kill or capture London.

We had American’s around. I remember being in the playground once and Americans threw gum in the school grounds. Our teacher took the gum and cut it into quarter inch squares and we had 2 each. I had never had gum before as sweets were unobtainable. They also gave us a party but our lorry broke down on the way to it and we had to be towed to get there.

I was given ice cream which you weren’t allowed to make during the war. I didn’t really know what it tasted like and I didn’t really like it. Of course the Americans had everything.

Everything was in short supply but every day we had a hot meal and a pudding. It was always conjured out of nothing. We were brought up not to waste a things I still feel it’s a crime not to leave any food.

At Christmas there were hardly any toys — particularly metal toys, they were in real short supply. Most toys were second hand and pre-war. We were relatively affluent as we still had apples grown locally and oranges in our stocking. You could not get Christmas trees and decorations, but the ones you did have were all very old and second hand.

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