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Kitty's War

by Stowes-pound

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Kitty Grant
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
10 July 2005

Kitty Grant died in 1992, but she had told the tale of her war to our children, her grandchildren, and this is what they wrote.

I was 29 when the war broke out in 1939. I was living in London, though I was soon evacuated to Worthing with my small child.
My husband, Billy, was a musician with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but in 1940, he was "released" for military service and joined the Royal Marines as a bandsman, leaving me on my own. My brother was called up in 1941, and I took over running the family Barber/Hairdressers business and continued to run it throughout the war.
During the bombing, I slept every night in a table shelter. I was called out many times in the night to go the shop because landmines had exploded on the beach nearby and windows were shattered. I used to cycle at night without any form of street lighting during the blackout. It was not allowed even to use cycle lamps.

My daughter was at school one day when enemy planes came over. All the children had to lie down where they were immediately; Janet had to lie in a puddle and was not allowed to move until the raid was over. The planes were strafing the ground below, and one of Janet's friends was hit, but not fatally.

In one raid, our house was slightly damaged. Worthing became a restricted area and I had to have an identity pass to get in and out of the town. I could be stopped at any time and ordered to produce it.

I witnessed the Battle of Britain from my house and the nearby streets. The searchlights would sweep across the sky, then meet, showing up a German plane. The plane would be trapped in the lights and the ack-ack would start - the plane would hurtle down. I would find this very exciting at the time, although afterwards I would remember the men on board and would feel awful.

After a battle, I would go for a walk on the South Downs. One weekend, I counted five German planes down within a radius of three miles. We were not allowed to touch the planes until the weaponry had been removed. In the later years of the war, the Germans started attacking with Doodle-bugs. People would watch them fly over, wondering where they would fall. British planes would go up to intercept them, and many were shot down, but even more got through. My Great Great Aunt was killed by a Doodle-bug.

The whole coast-line was covered in coils of barbed-wire, and the beach was mined, so no one was allowed there. Gun sites and tank traps lined the promenade, manned mainly by the Americans and Canadians.

Just before D-Day, all the troops and tanks were on the march. It took them an hour and a half for them all to pass the shop. There was a great feeling of excitement, we felt some big event was imminent.

Letters to my husband were sent to a central depot, as I had no idea where he was. I never knew if my letters reached him, and the letters I received had been read and censored. But he survived, and when the war was over the family was reunited.

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