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15 October 2014
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Memories of a Teenager During the War

by Essex Action Desk

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
Essex Action Desk
People in story: 
Olive May Fields (nee Gayfer), George Gayfer (my dad), Leslie Gayfor (my brother)
Location of story: 
Whitwell, Hodthorp. Lowestoft, Suffolk, Oulton, Norfolk
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 November 2005

I was fourteen when the war started and lived in Lowestoft with my dad, mum and brother Leslie who was two years younger than me.

On June 2nd 1940, my 15th birthday, most of the children in Lowestoft were evacuated as the schools were all closed. Our Notley Road School was taken over by the Navy. My cousin Catherine, Leslie and I went to Whitwell in Derbyshire. We were very tired after our journey and waited to be sent to our foster parents. Cathy and I went together, and Leslie to another home with a friend. We used a church hall for our lessons and many of our own teachers came with us. After a few weeks we had to leave our billet where we were very happy and were sent to another one in the next village of Hodthorpe. I was always hungry, and spent a lot of the money that my parents sent me on buying food.

In November that year our parents came to visit us. Whilst at school, my Mum and Dad came and said they were taking me home as they had noticed how thin I was. Leslie was happy in his home so we left him there.

I soon settled back into life at Lowestoft and got a job at Floods Printers. I was working off the main road near to where my dad worked as a dental mechanic. Mum used to pack sandwiches for us and I used to go to dad’s work to eat my lunch with him. Leslie came home in August 1941 to share a lovely, short holiday with us all as a family in Bury St Edmunds before returning to Hodthorpe.

Dad and mum decided to bring Leslie back home in time for his 14th birthday, which was 2nd December, so Leslie arrived back on 1st December 1941, and we shared a lovely Christmas with him that year. Leslie got himself a job with dad at the dental surgery as an apprentice so he also joined us at lunchtimes.

On 13th January 1942 we had gone to work as usual on our bikes, and shared the normal lunchtime together. About 16:45 we heard the air-raid warning, and we at Floods rushed into the basement. Our ceilings came down, but otherwise we were all ok. When I cycled home I found the whole main street was cordoned off. Once home, mum asked me if I had seen anything of dad and Leslie. I hadn’t, so naturally we were very worried and just sat and knitted and waited. Sadly, we received the news that they had both been killed.

As there was no work in Lowestoft, we rented out our home to work with the Red Shield for the Salvation Army, serving the US and UK air forces at Oulton near Aylesham. Here I met my future husband. We married in 1945 and as active Salvationists were happily married until he sadly died in July 1999.

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