- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dorithy Huggins
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 22 September 2004
I was 17 when the war started and I was living in Blackheath with my family. The war was a big thing in our lives, but it didn’t have as big an effect as people might think. We used to go out in the evenings and enjoy our selves very much. The war brought people together and people where always very friendly and open to one another, much more then they are nowadays! Everybody seamed very nice and so it was easy to enjoy yourself.
I first worked at a Heinz shop in Blackheath but towards the end of the war I moved into the civil service and worked for the ministry of works. We used to go around the country to where they where building new houses for our ‘heroes’, sometimes we would be building prefabs but sometimes they would also make new houses out of breezeblocks. My job was as a clerk working for the boss of our department, I liked him a lot.
When the Americans came to London they stayed in a convent school across the road from us so I saw quite a lot of them. I remember one man in particular called Daniel Francis who was a Texan and who was very nice. They used to give us candy and chocolate and take us out to the movies, which was fun, but I didn’t find them as brash and imposing as I think other people might have.
We used to get quite a few air raids and my brother was a pilot in the RAF. When they started the bombing we would all get underneath a metal table shelter and spend the night there when I was at home. We slept four underneath it which was as much as the shelter would take so it was lucky that my family wasn’t any larger. We didn’t get any direct hits on my house which was very lucky however our next door neighbour did, as did two of my friends who where bombed out, luckily both of them where OK. If I was at work we used to rush down to the cellars.
There where many planes stationed at Croydon who where there to protect London and so we would get some impressive dogfights when the planes came together. People used to stay out and watch these sometimes even though it might be dangerous, I must have been mad I think, because I was young and the war was just something we had come to accept in our lives. I never saw my brother in any dogfights and he was lucky enough to survive the war as a fighter pilot.
I wouldn’t say that I thought the war was a good experience; however I don’t think it was entirely negative either. I always felt that our boys would see us through, even after they had to evacuate Dunkirk and so I never really felt threatened. I think that most people felt like this and so we where all just able to get on with what we had to do instead of being scared by it too much. I sometimes think that if the young people of today had been through a war like that then they would all be a bit friendlier to each other rather then being as distant as they are now. After the war I stayed in the ministry of works building new houses for those who had been bombed out until I got married.
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