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A Child's Memories of Wartime Oxford by Sylvia Newton (nee Green)

by Stockport Libraries

Contributed by 
Stockport Libraries
People in story: 
Sylvia Green
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
08 June 2004

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Elizabeth Perez of Stockport Libraries on behalf of Sylvia Newton and has been added to the site with her permission. She fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was five years old in June 1939. We had just moved to a new house on top of a very high hill in Oxford called Rose Hill. We were approximately fifty-two miles from London.

The war started in September of that year, and things went on more or less the same. It was quiet. The only thing that told us we were at war was blackout curtains at the windows. The iron railings on the garden walls were taken off. Sandbags were issued at everyone's front doors, and my Father built a bomb blast wall outside the downstairs bathroom-toilet. We were all issued with identity cards, food ration books and clothing coupons. Also we were getting used to hearing the air raid sirens. Some people bought shelters for their gardens and things started to go scarce. We also had to take gas masks everywhere.

One night, when I was about six, my Mother came into my bedroom, got me out of bed and wrapped me in the eiderdown and brought me down to the bathroom. The noise was awful. It went on for a very long time. When the "All Clear" went, my Mother put me back to bed, but we drew back the curtains, and the sky was a mass of red. We knew something dreadful had happened. Next morning we found out that London had received its first raid. Life was not to be the same again.

We did have the odd bomb, which didn't explode. We thought at the time the target was either Press steel Works or Morris Motors. We now know that Oxford was safe because Hitler was going to make it his home and centre of his government.

We also had relatives who lived in Coventry, they lost four homes and one member ended in a P.O.W. Camp in Japanese hands. He was a total wreck when he came home.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
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