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WW2 - People's War

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by shirlthegirl

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Shirley Harris
Location of story: 
Cardiff, S Wales
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 November 2003

It happened over 50 years ago, but the many stories of the Second World War I heard as a small girl, images on film, books I have read, have remained strong in my memory. My father was an ambulance driver during the war, and my brother was born with bombs dropping overhead. My mother had a difficult confinement, was left alone for most of the time, with the nurses smoking cigarettes over the cots of the new born. Having to go into the Anderston shelter in the garden after we heard the air raid siren or to the Morrison shelter set up in the front room of our house, often seemed exciting and good fun, but somewhere in my mind there was fear and trepidation, and the question I often heard asked from family members as to why Britain was not acting to stop the ahhihilation of a people, simply because they were Jews, has been engraved on my mind from that day to this.

The arrival of a child from the kindertransport at my grandmother's home made a tremendous impact. She had had six children of her own, bringing them up in
poverty and hardship, and although all her children were grown and married with their own families by this time, I admired her greatly for taking on a child who was a stranger, and because of the trauma this child had been through, would probably make it hard for my grandmother to cope.

Cardiff did not suffer from the bombing nearly as badly as London, although, as far as I can remember, we had one or two very bad attacks, blasting out the whole city. The morning after the raids, I remember going around our neighbourhood, picking up pieces of shrapnel with my friends, and looking in amazement at all the houses whose windows had been shattered.

The one thing that stood fast in my memory was the camaraderie. Everyone wanted to help everyone else, no-one was left on their own, we could go into our neighbours homes as if they were our own. Everyone felt they belonged and as terrible as the war was, it felt good to be part of all that society offered in those days.

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