- Contributed by
- Severn Valley Railway
- People in story:
- John Wood-Smith
- Location of story:
- Stroud, Gloucestershire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 April 2005
I was five and my family lived in London when the war started. We were self-evacuated to my grandmother's home in Stroud, Gloucestershire. I lived there for six and a half years, from five years old until 11 years old - my formative years really.
Stroud was a nice, pleasant part of the country - so much so, I'd have had no idea there was a war going on if it hadn't been for rationing. I remember we couldn't get things like bananas. We heard about what was going on in the news but I didn't listen to it much.
For me, it was a lovely time. In actual fact I found going back home to London after the war a bit of an anti-climax. It was only then that I saw how people had been suffering. My only experience was when a German plane flew over my grandmother's garden and I dived into the undergrowth. I was surrounded by open space and family. Bristol was the closest place to me to get bombed.
My father was a doctor so he went out with the medics to hospitals in the Middle East. He was in Egypt for four years then in Beirut for two years so I didn't remember him much, apart from the airgraphs he sent. We always used to be very excited when one of those arrived. We used to have to write back in large letters on A4 sheets which were photographed down to a quarter of the size.
When my father finally came home, he was a bit of a stranger to us, having been away for so long. He suddenly arrived one day without any warning. Then we all decamped from the country. It was a bit unsettling for an 11-year-old. A lot of my friends from before the war had just disappeared, I think many of them had stayed away from London. Many people didn't like post-war England and moved overseas. I could understand why, London was a depressing place to be.
We did used to go back to my grandmother's a lot. I was lucky. Unlike many, I have happy memories of the war years.
(This story was taken down by a volunteer from Wyre Forest Volunteer's Burea.)
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