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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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the hogarths of birmingham

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
gwendoline briers (nee hogarth) b1932; joyce (nee) hogarth (b1933); joan (nee) hogarth (b 1940); john hogarth, (b 1943); william and kate hogarth (parents)
Location of story: 
birmingham, west midlands
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 August 2005

I was seven when the war started and 13 when it ended.

Dad was called up in 1941, to the Royal Navy. He served on Collingwood, HMS Vincent, Aurora. Then he landed up at Scapa Flow and later on motor torpedo boats.

My younger sister Joan was born in 1940, about the time when Coventry was bombed. In those days, mothers stayed in bed for a week after the birth and then another week afterwards they stayed in the bedroom. Mum had our brother John in 1943.

We lived next door to the Baths - for swimming and washing - which were converted into an air raid post. The four houses in our row had cellars, which were converted into air raid shelters. We were bombed most nights. We thought it was fun. We'd pack carrier bags with jigsaw puzzles, knitting and books.

Ours was the most popular shelter. My family drew people in - still do. We'd have sing-songs. It was an adventure. But one night three men were killed in our street by incendiary bombs - most men went out on fire duty. There was dust, smell, smoke and shrapnel everywhere. My sister Joyce and I went round collecting tins and stuff for the war effort.

Granddad lived with us. He worked at Tubes Ltd munitions factory. And we took in lodgers. We had to, that was the system. There were some young girls, rather flighty, but also two refined ladies from Clacton, who'd been bombed out. Miss Manning had owned a hotel and Miss Cubitt was her companion-housekeeper. She waited on Miss Manning hand and foot. Miss Manning became a welfare officer at the munitions factory and later at the Rover works. After the war they moved to Sussex.

Some days we didn't have lessons at school because of the air raids; but I had my three R’s when I left school at 14 in 1946.

Mum and Dad wouldn't have us evacuated. 'If we have to go, we'll all go together', they said. It was a happy childhood. When Dad came home at the end of the war, we had a big street party.

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