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Childhood Memories Of The War

by csvdevon

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
June Kernick, Sidney Kernick, Lilian Kernick, Neil Kernick, Charles Larbalestier.
Location of story: 
Braintree, Essex; Kingsteignton, Devon.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 August 2005

Wounded soldiers were dressed in blue uniforms, so for fancy dress parade my doll was dressed accordingly.

This story has been written onto the BBC People’s War site by CSV Storygatherer Janet on behalf of June Kernick. The story has been added to the site with her permission and June fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.

These are a few of my reminiscences from World War II. Nothing very exciting but to me being just a child, they stick in my mind.

I was born in 1938 and we lived in Kingsteignton. As my father was in a reserved occupation, he joined the Home Guard or Local Defence Volunteers. My mother always, jokingly referred to them as `The look, duck and vanish brigade’.

On the night of April 2nd 1942, the local Home Guard sergeant, hammered on the door at 2am to tell my father that the Germans had invaded Weymouth and he had to go on duty. Very shortly after this, my pregnant mother went into labour and always said that "`Jerry’ brought your brother".

Further on in the war I used to hear my parents say `Plymouth/Exeter, must be getting it’ as we could hear the noise and see a glow in the night sky.

One day, my mother was ironing with a flat iron, no electric irons for us in those days. We heard planes overhead and Mum, brother and myself rushed out to the garden, Mum with the iron still in her hand. She looked up and shouted `Good old RAF’ and then `Oh goodness, they are Jerries’ and brought the iron straight down on to my hand, burning me. She then unceremoniously shoved us indoors. Dad was out in the garden shaking his fork at the planes and he too came rushing in, only to find that Mum, in her panic, had locked the back door.

Every year we used to visit my grandfather, in Essex. The train trip to Paddington seemed to me to take forever. The trains were packed with soldiers, sailors and airmen overflowing the carriages in to the corridors, sitting on their cases and kit bags. If we needed to visit the toilet, we had to clamber over them. The trains kept stopping, presumably to let troop trains through. My mother was always afraid that we would stop in a tunnel, safer I would have thought, but she was claustrophobic and as I am now a claustrophobe I can understand her fear.

One year, Mum wrote to ask Granddad if they had any `Doodlebugs’ as if they had we wouldn’t be visiting. They hadn’t so we duly set off, only to find on our first day there that Doodlebugs promptly appeared. I was always warned that if the engine cut out, I was to run to safety. One day, whilst out playing, one did just that. I ran for Granddad’s house only to see a mushroom cloud and hear the explosion when the `flying bomb’ hit the ground. It later transpired that it was just two miles away. At that time Granddad worked for Courtaulds, the silk firm. All of the employees were sent home to check that their relatives were safe.

I know that food parcels were sent to England from abroad but we had some from Granddad in Essex. He used to save some of his rations and send them on to Mum. It was strange as they usually arrived when Mum was down to the last of ours and wondering what to do next, when lo! and behold! a parcel would arrive and we would be saved.

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