- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ruth Stredwick
- Location of story:
- Carshalton Surrey
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 October 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Doreen Bennett on behalf of Ruth Stredwick, the author and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
My Memories of World War 2
When war broke out my family and another family had just started a holiday at a boarding house in Bude. Both fathers promptly returned home.
At the time I was nearly nine and my brother was 5 and we lived in the suburbs of London.
My first realisation that the war was going on was looking up into the sky one day on my way home and seeing all these small planes flying at each other with puffs of smoke (gunfire) going between them, I was spellbound until an ARP warden came up and told me to go home. This was a dog fight and the start of the Battle of Britain.
After this, we children collected shrapnel, spent bullets and bits of bombs and competed to see who had the most and biggest bits!
A bomb blast meant that windows blew out, the ceilings fell down and tiles fell off the roof, we had lino which flapped and cut out the light at the windows instead of glass. One day I came home from school for my dinner which was keeping warm on the coke boiler, only to find that the ceiling had come down and bits were in my dinner! On another day, my mum had made a cake for the week (rationing meant there was only enough marg, sugar and dried egg for one cake a week), she had left it to cool and later I found it full of glass, I was so disappointed that I made her cut off the top so that we could eat the rest. I enjoyed a bit of cooking and used to make cakes but it was difficult to make the ingredients go round, so we looked for recipes using other ingredients and I ended up using Liquid Paraffin instead of fat, it was OK as I don’t remember any ill effects!
At times, at night we could see a red glow over London which was the fires from the bombing, very sad.
In 1944 the ‘Doodle Bugs’ came and it became quite unnerving hearing the loud engine noise stop and wondering where it was going to land, they seemed to do much more damage than the other bombing. One day I was coming home from school when a ‘Doodle Bug’ engine stopped overhead and much to my embarrassment I lay down in the street.
During the air raids we slept downstairs in two Morrison shelters, these were like tables with iron frames, basic bed springs and mesh cage sides which were removed to get in and out. My brother and I shared one of these; we were so restless that we broke the bed springs and spent the nights rolling into each other, arguing and being generally very unpopular!
I was at a farming camp picking potatoes, which was really back breaking and it was very hot in August, when we heard that it was VJ Day. We wanted to ‘knock off’ for the afternoon but the foreman said “No, that’s the way wars start!”
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