- Contributed by
- People in story:
- John Shannon
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- Contributed on:
- 16 August 2005
No one has ever asked me, nor have I read anywhere, about the child’s view of the war, air raids, being away from home, being separated from brothers and sisters, living with strangers, having strange values forced on you regardless of how nice and kind these strangers were — and most if them were.
We, like all the kids form our school and our neighbourhood were evacuated from St. Michael’s, dark blue rain coat, school cap, cardboard gas mask box across our shoulder, brown label attached to our button hole with our name, address and destination.
After we arrived it was like a cattle market school half full of South End Liverpool kids and kind couples (as we were always told), picking us out. In my case I went one way, my brother another and my eldest sister a different way to both of us.
School consisted of the school hall or the chapel hall. This was in North Wales. There were benches which formed the boundaries of each class, usually four to a hall. I have memories of people always changing to the Welsh dialect whenever they wanted to talk about “us”. They took “us” out on to the hill side to watch the fire from the air raids burning in Liverpool. I remember listening to the BBC news about the bombing on Merseyside. I was so unhappy in Wales that one day when I saw a delivery truck that had Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham on the side, I planned to skip a ride home. My sister and brother talked me out of it. Thinking back, it was just as well; maybe it never left North Wales. All I could see was Liverpool written on that truck and I was bound and determined I was going home.
From 1942 to VJ Day, my dad wrote home twice a month (my dad was in the army). It was a special occasion when we received the air mail letters from North Africa. When they were late arriving, everyone was on edge but all was well when the letters arrived. Then after reading them we would all troop down to my Granddad’s to let him read them.
What I always remember about the war was Sunday afternoon, we always had lashings of best butter — there was none during the week but we always had it on Sunday.
I can remember standing in a queue for a pomegranate. I didn’t know what it was but it came from overseas and it was the first time they had been on sale since the war began — they were lousy.
Shoes were rationed which made playing soccer quite a feat. One pair of shoes for school and an old pair for soccer.
All mothers must have had the same idea — clogs for playing in — they lasted a long time but the leg injuries while playing soccer soon put a stop to wearing them.
I remember when we could buy what we called baseball boots, they were basketball boots really. Wearing those we could run like the wind. Everyone thought they were Billy Liddle sprinting down the left wing.
During the Blitz, trucks with large burners on the back would travel along the streets of Liverpool, burning oil to make black smoke so as to hide Liverpool Docks from the bombers (no-one cared about pollution then).
All window panes were masked with glue and paper, each pane would be like a miniature Union Jack. This was to prevent the glass from flying when bombs exploded. I often think now what a Godsend masking tape would have been in those days.
I remember when we went to the movies we would look fro my dad when the Gaumont British News came on. We never did see him.
I remember Miss Bibby at school, who was the most popular teacher because she had our soccer balls repaired by the G.I.s at Sealand Camp over the water.
We would go to Moreton and camp for the weekend, collecting bags of cockles; it always seemed to rain, those weekends we would come home soaking wet but we soon forgot by the time the next trip was planned.
When the war ended we had a Victory party — my sister was the Victory Queen. The party was spoiled when news of one of the neighbour’s sons was reported killed on the last day of the war.
The night the lights went on is a night I will always remember. It seemed the lights had been off all my life, but things didn’t change. We still had rationing and shortages of all sorts of things, also hide and seek was not as good because now you could see the kid from a long way off!
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