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15 October 2014
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Childhood in Wartime India

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Jean Clark, Arthur Clark, Nan Clark.
Location of story: 
India and SS Cythia
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Liz Gray from Chineham Learning Centre and has been added to the website on behalf of Jean Noble with her permission and she fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

My War

At the time of the war, I was Jean Clark, the daughter of Arthur and Nan Clark. We were living in comparative comfort in the suburbs of New Delhi, India. I was born into what could pass for an army family. My maternal grandfather arrived in India courtesy of the Black Watch Regiment and my father arrived with the Middlesex Regiment. My father left the Army and joined the Indian Civil Service. At the outbreak of war he was co-opted into the Indian Army.

Conditions for families in India were considerably easier than for those in Britain. Rationing was in force but was so generous as to be almost non existent. My father was sent on various trips but I don’t recollect them. In fact, apart from visits from several members of the British and American forces, life went on as usual.

The end of the war coincided with the British leaving India. All the wives and families were sent home prior to partition. We sailed on a cruise ship which had been restructured to hold the maximum amount of people. Also on board was a contingent of Italian prisoners of war who were being repatriated. Everyone slept in large dormitories and the showers were salt water and very hot or very cold. When it was to hot we would take our mattresses out on deck and sleep there. The main amusement for us children was watching the Italians getting soaked by the waves during their exercise period on the bow of the lower deck. I can vaguely remember going through the Suez Canal. We called in at Naples to disembark the prisoners of war.

The SS Cythia docked at Liverpool on 5 July 1946, my mother’s 31st birthday. We were met by my father’s sister who drove us back to Surrey and the realities of post war Britain.

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