- Contributed by
- Bridport Museum
- People in story:
- Janet M. Boon-Tilley
- Location of story:
- Dorchester, Dorset
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 June 2005
In 1939, I was only five years old, so early memories of the War are hazy, and I did not find it unusual having an air raid shelter in the garden, black-out at the windows, a dark blue light bulb in my bedroom, car headlights with a metal cover and only a slit for the light to shine through, front garden walls with their railings cut off, streets without gas lamps after dark, servicemen everywhere, though I did wonder why two schoolteachers and two teenage pupils from the Haberdashers school in London lived with us for a while.
I accepted air raid sirens, dog fights overhead either by day or illuminated by searchlights at night, my father suddenly going to work on my uncle’s farm and still trying to run his business, as well as going out overnight as an A.R.P. Warden, and visits from a previously unknown Canadian relative in the Carlton York Regiment.
My 6d. a week pocket money bought a National Savings Stamp, which when I had 15/- worth, was exchanged for certificate which in seven years became £1. What riches!
Later, the most memorable event was the day the American convoys arrived in the local tree lined roads. Previously I had know there were Americans camped in Came Woods, and many other wooded areas where they could not be clearly seen from the air, living in Nissen huts, and quite large communities, but prior to D-Day, many more came to the area, and our avenues were ideal places to camouflage the vehicles.
What excitement as the first convoy entered our road, there were Jeeps, tanks, lorries, and armoured vehicles, the occupants of which were throwing sweets and gum to any watching children they saw. After school they were lined up under the trees ready to hand out more goodies, and to talk to us, so we made lots of new friends, but were sad sometimes to find the previous days men had moved out overnight and a new crowd had moved in.
We children were forbidden by our parents to enter any of the vehicles, and we being innocent could not understand why, but for once, everyone complied, and I cannot remember any problems. Our mothers made numerous cups of tea for the soldiers and were rewarded with tins of fruit, and Carnation milk.
One convoy of Americans left my father with a surprise; the Provost Marshall asked if he could leave a small amount of meat in our garage when they moved out, for us to put out for the dustbin men, but when my father came home later, he found the garage full of sausages and other meats, so he had to get the Public Health Department to deal with it.
The exception to the American convoys was the Free French Soldiers; they remained for a week and despite language problems we got to know them well , and were sorry to see them go, but we realised the D-Day Operations were under way, leading eventually to the end of the War, and a lovely party for the children in a nearby field.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.