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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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My First Memory

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Bernice Bright, Maude (Liz) and Frank Scovell
Location of story: 
Southampton Freemantle
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 December 2005

At the very beginning my first memory was of all the family standing round the radio when we heard war was declared. And later that day we heard whistles blowing and there was a man running down the street shouting get your gas masks on and get into your shelters. After a while my dad said this isn’t right and got out of the shelter and as he got to the front gate there were official air raid wardens and they were saying it was a false alarm and the man was shell shocked from the first world war and this had brought back memories for him. So we all came out and took off our masks and we didn’t use the shelter for a long time after that. There was a lot of bombing and fire and one particular fire was just near where I lived in a big warehouse. There were fire engines and fire men who had come from Coventry and they were exhausted, my mother and I and our next door neighbour brewed up our tea rations and the lady next door owned a grocer shop so she brought out some biscuits and things for the firemen. One man was so exhausted that he passed out and we laid him on our sofa to rest until he was ok. It just showed how every one helped one another. We weren’t just looking out for our families we were all trying to help one another.
As part of make do and mend we would knit a jumper for one season wear it all season then unpick it and make another one in a different pattern.

I was training at a commercial college and we had to leave the school and go to a public shelter round the corner if the siren sounded. And this particular day I had asked the principle of the college if I could go round the corner to my uncles shop and have my lunch there and that was the time that the siren went. I knew I had to be at the air raid shelter so I ran round the corner towards the shelter and that was when I was chased and fired at by a plane that swooped down low but luckily I didn’t get shot.

Much later in the war as preparations were going on for d-day and all the troops were over here and the ships were in the docks and i lived near the docks near the railway and that was where we had these bins dustbin size near the gates and they had a lid to them and if they thought there were any reconisence planes they would set these smoke alarms off and they covered the area in smoke to hide the us. Quite annoying when you were trying to say goodnight to your boyfriend and then they went off.

At the end of the war, the night before VE day, my mother and I and her sister who was a very prim and proper lady were upstairs all in bed and my mother heard this rumour that it was the end of the war and we looked out the window and all the people were gathering in the city centre so my mother said lets follow them and my aunt who is prim and proper said wait for me and she had her long white night gown on and her hair in curlers. We all had our over coats on over our night dresses and there was lots of dancing and we started to walk back up the main street my aunt still oblivious of her nightdress and curlers and as we got to where all the American were stationed in one of the buildings they all hung out the window and said “gee hunny I like your hair style” to which she put her hand in the air and couldn’t get home fast enough. She said “ my goodness why didn’t you tell me, lets get home quick!!” she hated having her hair out of place.

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