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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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"A Child's Eye View of the War"

by Cumbria Communities

Contributed by 
Cumbria Communities
People in story: 
Margaret Taylor and family
Location of story: 
Cark in Cartmel. Village in South Cumbria
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3861678
Contributed on: 
05 April 2005

I was eleven, it was 1940 and I was sitting in my tree house on a lovely spring morning.
Everything was very quiet except for the noise of birds in the kitchen garden. I came across the wet grass in my plimsoles with my mongrel dog for company as always. He came up into the tree house with me and I carefully pulled up the improvised ladder so that no one knew I was there, though I think my Mother guessed where I was.
I was always sneaking off for a quiet read. There was no one to play with as my brothers and sisters and my father were all in the forces. I was the youngest and regretfully too young to join up but my brothers made sure that I knew all the drill manoeuvres that they had to endure. I spent hours marching up and down with a broom handle over my shoulder instead of a gun. Yes, I knew all about the war!
As I settled down with my Chatterbox Annual,my dog,a biscuit in my pocket to eat and share and nothing to do until lunchtime,suddenly my peace was disturbed not by a noise but by a quiet shuffling. I put my small hand over my dog's nose to stop him barking and looked down through the branches.
What was happening? Men in khaki camouflaged uniforms were creeping across the garden and assembling under my tree.
They started whispering among themselves,quietly but still audible to me six feet above their heads.
Imagine my horror as they began to plan how to capture the airfield at the other end of the village. The tactics, the suprise move, the diversions. Yes,the whole plan was unfolded into my ears,my tender eleven year old ears. I was horrified , terrified. What should I do?If I moved they would arrest me,kill me,court martial me.Yes,I knew all ahout the army and how they disciplined spies. How could I hold onto my dog any longer;he was getting frantic.
Suddenly they moved away,just as quietly as they had come. Moving off towards the airfield,who should I tell?
In the end I did nothing.
When the coast was clear I let down my ladder and climbed down and ran home.
As I burst in through the door, my father was there,I'd forgotten he was coming on leave. I spluttered out the whole story. How my father laughed.
It was a Home Guard exercise.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Home Guard Category
Cumbria Category
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