- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Amy Ada Talbot
- Location of story:
- Gosport, Hampshire
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 09 November 2003
In June 1944 we were living in Gosport, Hampshire. My husband was overseas with the Navy and I was at home with my three young children, boys aged 5 months, 2 years and 3 years. None were going to school and rationing made life a bit difficult, but we managed.
We had already survived the bombing raids on the Portsmouth area. At one time I had a young woman billeted with me, and between us we had devised a routine for getting the children and ourselves to the Air Raid shelter when the sirens went. We couldn't go down to the shelter immediately, we had to wait for the anti aircraft guns at Holbrook to stop firing because we were in the path of the shrapnel fall out. On one occasion when my husband was home on leave, he caused pandemonium because he didn't know our routine. He collided with Edith, the billeted girl, in the blackout and knocked her flying. The baby in her arms went flying down the garden. In the process of picking Edith up, he realised what had happened, dropped her again and went to rescue the baby!
The area of Gosport where I lived was very near to Hardway, which had been chosen as one of the main embarkation sites for the D Day Invasion, because of its location on the west side of Portsmouth Harbour.
I remember all the soldiers and tanks lined up in the streets in our neighbourhood. The soldiers slept in our gardens, and some of my neighbours offered them places to sleep indoors. My eldest son took his toys out to them to repair, and I remember him coming home one day with a handful of coins; halfcrowns and shillings. The soldiers, many of whom were Canadian, said they would have no need of the money where they were going.
I wasn't feeling very well in the days running up to D Day so I took some bi-carb, thinking I had indigestion. When things didn't improve, I reluctantly allowed my neighbour to send for the doctor - doctors had to be paid for in those days. When he examined me and pressed my stomach, I nearly went through the ceiling. He said I had to go to hospital immediately because I had peritonitis. My neighbour said couldn't we leave it until tomorrow to give us time to make arrangements for the children, but the doctor said I only had 12 hours.
Before the ambulance could come down the road to pick me up all the tanks had to be moved out of the way. As I was being carried out the soldiers were saying "Good Luck Miss!" and I was thinking you wouldn't call me Miss if you could see what I have left indoors.
I was very worried about my three little boys. I had to leave them with my neighbour and rely on her to get in touch with my sister and sister in law to look after them. I was too ill to remember very much. There was no question of bringing my husband home. He was told what had happened and months afterwards I received a telegram from him. I didn't even know where he was.
I was taken to Gosport War Memorial Hospital and I was so ill I stayed there for 5 - 6 weeks. When Matron came to tell me I could go home, she said I had been very lucky and that if it hadn't been for modern surgery I would have 'gone to Jesus.'
I don't remember much about being in hospital except that you couldn't see out of the windows because of the blast walls outside. Every evening they put a blanket and a kind of stretcher at the foot of each bed, in case they had to get you out quickly.The food wasn't very good - I seem to remember warmed up spam, and as I got better I realised that all the beds were full.
I remember a bed being set up in the middle of the ward for a French woman who was laid on her stomach. She had apparently come across the Channel with her husband and two children, but the two children had been lost. She kept saying 'Jacqueline & Nicholas all gone'. Her husband was in the male ward. I believe she had hurrt her back.
When I got home, I still had to go back two or three times a week because I had a hole where they put the tube to drain the poison. My sister in law in Fareham kept my middle son with her until I was completely better, but I managed to look after the other two.
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