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15 October 2014
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Full Circle

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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Ickelton, Cambridgeshire
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Contributed on: 
30 November 2005

My grandparents house in Tottenham, North London, was bombed during the blitz in 1940 and myself at the tender age of 9 months, together with parents Bessie and Victor Johnson, grandparents(Bessie and Jo Gripp) and my mother's sitser Elsie evacuated to friends and family in Ickleton, Cambridgeshire. We all huddled in the back of an open top lorry, whilst my grandmother held an umbrella over my pram to stop me getting wet in the pouring rain.

It had been arranged that my father would lodge in London during weekdays so he could work in the Enfield Small Arms factory and come to Ickleton at Weekends. He was exempt from serving in any of the armed forces as he was a qulified tool maker and his experience was badly needed.

During the next few years I remember only the warm sunny days, fields of corn and haystacks which smelled so inviting, catching newly hatched frogs in the small steams, amd happiness. Although Ickelton was a small village it was frequently visited by the americans with money burning holes in their pockets. I think they were intreguied by the local pubs "beer and wine" law, that was untill after closing time. My mother and aunt (seemingly unattached) were obviously popular to these lonely, far from home, service men. They frequently recived food parcles from the USA, and I am told that my mother would barter local produce in exchange for goodies for me. It appears that the first time I saw a coconut, I wasnt sure whether to take it out for a walk on a peice of string or kick it. Also when I tasted my first orange I spat it out, only to be told by my mother that "if I didnt eat it all up there would be trouble, as she had exchanded three duck eggs for it."

On one occasion one of the Americans said he was visiting London for a few days, and asked whether I would like anything brought back. I begged my mother for a tricycle, so I could ride around the quiet country lanes, and not have to sit on a cushion tied to her cross bar. Lo and behold, I got one. The problem was that I could not keep up with some of the Americans on their two wheelers, so the bright idea was to tie a piece of rope to the back of one of their bikes, and the front of mine. What bliss! I think the furthest I ever went was to Duxford Aerodrome, where the Italian prisoners of war were busy loading and unloading American planes. As I understand it, this plane field was visited by famous film stars i.e. James Stewart and Clarke Gable, but I wouldnt have known them if they had handed me a piece of chewing gum.

The family finally returned to London, and got on with their lives, and I lived there until 1976, when I moved to Cambridge, having come full circle.

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