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15 October 2014
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Childhood in Mereclough, Lancashire

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Margaret George (nee Mitton); parents: Frank and Ida May Mitton; brother: Geoffrey Mitton; uncle and aunt: Marion and Ernest Lancaster
Location of story: 
Mereclough, Lancashire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4854891
Contributed on: 
07 August 2005

I was six years old when the war started and 12 when it finished. Although I don't have a clear memory of the war starting, I remember knowing something awful was happening. I also remember the wonderful feeling at the end of the war, and feeling glad that the atom bombs were being dropped because it meant the end of the war in the east. Probably part of the reason I felt glad was that I thought it would mean more goodies and sweets, because there’d been a shortage of them during the war. I remember one time, for instance, when we’d got a pack of biscuits and we were really looking forward to opening them and eating them, but when we did we found they were cheese biscuits and we were so disappointed.
Because our family kept hens we had no shortage of eggs, and people would come from Burnley to buy our eggs. We had a pen for hens because my father worked on a farm belonging to my aunt and uncle. There were strict restrictions about killing the animals on the farm, and I remember one time when they must have killed a pig illegally, because it was hidden in the kitchen and the kitchen was covered up.
One day my brother and I heard that an aeroplane had crashed about a mile away, so we crossed the fields to go and look. We saw lots of pieces of the plane still lying around. I think we later found out that the pilot was American and that he'd died.
My father was in the Home Guard so he’d have to go round the village in the evenings checking for chinks of light during the blackout and for anything unusual. I remember how even the buses had blinds on them that had to be pulled down to black them out. The blackout must have made it very dark indeed, because one of my cousins bumped into a lampost and bruised her face quite badly.
I remember planes flying overhead on their way to bomb Manchester. When this happened we would go down into the cellar, which was tiny — you couldn’t sit down in there. I don't remember the all-clear siren sound.
After the war had finished some German POWs were kept in a camp near where we lived. That winter (of 1946/7) was a really bad one — I was off school for six weeks because of the snow. One day on my way from home to the shops (about 1.5 miles) I passed a group of these POWs clearing snow with spades. I had to pass by them quite closely. I remember feeling strange and looking down, determined not to look at them but feeling that they were staring at me. They must have been freezing.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Clare George of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Margaret George and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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