- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Joan Bocock
- Location of story:
- Tynemouth, Northumberland
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 26 April 2005
On 3rd Sept 1939 I was 9 years old and vividly remember Neveille Chamberlain declaring war on Germany. Within minutes of his announcement, barrage balloons were hoisted in the air above our house in Tynemouth, 8 miles from Newcastle on the Northeast coast. My sister was 11 years old and were told to hide under the sideboard in case of an air raid, which we duly did. After a little while the 'all-clear' sounded and we were allowed out from under the sideboard.
We were evacuated from Tynemouth with my mother coming along as a helper. I remember standing on Tynemouth Railway Station with our gasmasks in a cardboard box, complete with a tin of corned beef! We only stayed away for two weeks because the lodgings we had had fleas and my mother wouldn't allow us to stay away any longer.
While we were away my father, who was a cabinet maker and worked in the Tyne shipyards, found a self-contained flat further away from the coast and we moved there. We weren't very happy because we could see the sea from our windows at Tynemouth and bathed in the sea whenever the weather was fine.
My father was in the Home Guard. As he was in a 'reserved occupation' he could not join-up)My mother had to go back to secretarial work in the office of the Managing Director of Welch's sweets. She also had to do fire-watching duties in the evenings.
Later in the war my school was bombed and we had to share premises with another school a little further away from home. This continued for a year.
My sister and I had to share looking after the house work and cooking and shopping. I did the shopping, coping with rationing and coupons in my lunch hour from school. I also did a lot of cooking. My sister did the housework. I remember queuing for apples, rhubarb, oranges and whatever was not rationed. On Saturdays we would move from shop to shop to see what we could get off-ration. I used to save my sweet ration coupons until the following week so that I would never be without a sweet!
I remember that after an air raid we would go and see what damage had been done. We had a lot of landmines in the area and it was devastating to see.
I left school at 14 and started work at the age of 14yrs 2 weeks in Newcastle, 8 miles from home. I took the 11+ exam in 1940 but my parents couldn't afford to send me to the Grammar School so I had to go the local Secondary Modern school. My school report for 1944 reads English, Grammar, Spelling - Excellent. Maths was 80 out of 100 etc. etc. I attended nightschool twice a week in the evenings to learn shorthand typing and have never been out of work. I finally retired in 1998 at the age of 68!
I am at a loss to understand why children of 11 these days are not able to read in this present age. If only I had had the opportunity for further study!!
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