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A Teenager During the War Years

by nottinghamcsv

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Betty W. D. Booker and Alfred Booker
Location of story: 
London, Borough of Sutton
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by CVS/BBC Radio Nottinghamm on behalf of Betty Booker with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I was ten when the war started so I grew up during the war. I don't remember it being frightening. I was just used to it.
I seemed to live in the air raid shelter which we had in our back garden. We slept there every night. It was terrible down there. The bottom was under water so we had to sleep on the top bunk. It was very cold so we took blankets. I even met my husband-to-be in an air raid shelter. (His family put their air raid shelter inside the house rather than in the garden!)
My father worked at Smithfield Market, but each night he went of fire watch duty at St Helliers Hospital as he was in the Home Guard.
We weren't allowed to go to school until air raid shelters had been built for the children. Many children had a gap in their schooling. I had a gap of one year without a school. Most of our teachers were either women or men who were too old for service. I remember having celery soup and cheese sandwiches. To this day I can't eat celery soup.
I remember the bombing and the doddle bugs. These doodle bugs gave us no warning, so afterwards we would get on our bikes and ride off to look at the damage. I used to pick up scrapnel on my way to school. I had a boxful of it. It contained all sorts. I wish now that I had kept it.
I left school and went to Sutton and Cheam Art School. I sat my City and Guilds exams in an air raid shelter.
One bomb hit our house and blew the windows out. They had to be boarded up. After this Mum and Dad stayed on in the house, but myself and my two younger sisters were evacuated to Bilsley in Birmingham 14.
Here I couldn't continue my studies so I got a job in Birmingham. I saved up enough money to go home, but my two younger sisters remained in Bilsley.
I met my husband,Alfred, during the war in an air raid shelter. My Dad definitely approved of him when he learnt that Alfred was serving on the same ship, HMS Ramilles, that my father had served on. We were married in 1948. fifty seven years ago. I was then eighteen

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