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30 July 2014
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WW2 - People's War

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Veronica McMurren nee Mawson
User ID: U760862

I was born on the 21st of June 1939 at 33 Mount Road, Newark Nottingham. Dad had moved back from serving with the Sherwood Foresters at Castle Cornet in Guernsey. He was stationed at the Normanton Barracks in Derby before going with the BEF to France. We moved to Derby before he went.

My earliest recollection of life was of being in an Air Raid Shelter of a friend of my parents in Stanley Road, Alvaston, Derby. The shelter was position at the bottom of their garden, I remember being so frightened that I was going to fall off the upper bunk bed Mum had put me on, although Mum had her arm around me, the drop seemed enormous. Mum said the sirens went most nights, but on the nights it didn't of course I would wake up ready for the run to the shelter and it took her ages to get me off to sleep again. Whilst still a baby Mum had a metal basket with a cover over the top, this was in case we were bombed with gas, she would of had to put me inside the basket and push a button on the side of the basket up and down to provide me with air.

Mum worked at the Ordinance Munitions Depot at Sinfin in Derby when I was about a year and my brother (he was about 4 years of age) and I were evacutated to Bonsal, Nr Matlock, we were put into houses next door to each other. My brother didn't like it at all there and ran away, luckly a bus Clippy who was a friend of Mum's was going by on her bus and saw him at a bus stop, she picked him up and took him back home. After this he went to live in Newark with our Grandparents and I was bought back and went to a nursery.

Dad was discharged with a stomach ulcer after Dunkirk and he moved Mum and I to 6 Brackens Lane Alvaston Derby. Brackens Lane was a country lane with hedgerow and ditches at this time, and each season the ditches would be full of frogs sporn which when I got older we would pick up in our hands and put in jam jars waiting for the tadpoles.

I started Allenton Infants school before the end of the war. I would set off each morning with my friend next door and we would be carrying our little gas masks in box with our names on, in case they were needed if there was an air raid. On arrivial at school we would have to put our box on a table ready for use if necessary and at the end of the day we had to remember to pick them up when we went home. The school was an old Victorian building, inside was one big hall with cloakrooms off the side of this hall. On arrival each moring the whole school assembled in the big hall for prayers and registration, after this the teachers would pull big dividing glass and wooden partitions across the hall making separate classroom's. I remember being with different age groups in one class at this time. The school had outside toilets which were very cold in winter, they had stable type doors on them, nothing at the top and nothing at the bottom of the doors so that the cold winds would blow aroung you ankles.
The school was about a mile from home and we walked there at the age of 5 by ourselves after our mother's had taken us for the first time, never feeling that it was not safe to do so. There was very little traffic then as ordinary people didn't own cars.

After Dad returned from Dunkirk he joined the special police, when the sirens went he would see Mum and I were safe by making us go under a steel table (which doubled up as a dining table) situated in the back room at home, there was a matress under it for Mum and I to sit on. Dad would then run down the lane to muster with other special police at the Blue Peter Hotel in readiness to help if any house were bombed and people inside or to help to put out fires. We also had a shelter at the bottom of the garden, but I think Mum prefered to stay in the house.

After the war was over we had a big VE day party in the street, somehow our parents found food for this and what a grand time we had.

Stories contributed by Veronica McMurren nee Mawson

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