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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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My War Time Childhood

by shushwap

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Stanley R. Owen, Kathleen M. Owen,Mavourneen M. Owen, Rosemary F. Owen, Vincent G. Owen
Location of story: 
Hayes, Middlesex.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 June 2004

I was born Mavourneen Mary Owen on the 13 October, 1938 at Perivale, Middlesex. I am the eldest child of Stanley R. Owen and Kathleen M. Owen.

So, I was 11 months old when WW2 started. The three of us were living in Ealing, London W.5 at 43, Northfields Avenue. My Grandmother Owen was there so was my uncle Harold Owen. Uncle Harold got called up into the army so we had to leave the house as it was rented in his name. This was in 1940. I don't know where my Grandmother went to live - she did not come with us.

My Dad, Stanley, cycled around the whole area looking for somewhere for him, my Mother and I to live. We had a rent a place. Finally he found 10. Hayes Bridge Court, Hayes, Middlesex. The rent was 23/6 a week (a lot of money to my parents)it was a self-contained ground floor flat in a block. We had a proper bathroom, a kitchen with an 'Ideal' boiler and part central heating i.e. radiators in the two bedrooms. There was a coal fire in the front room.

In the smaller of the two bedrooms my parents put up a Morrison shelter.

My sister, Rosemary, was born in September 1942 in hospital at Isleworth, Middlesex. I remember her being 9 months old.

In August 1944 I was sent away to stay with the sister of our neighbour to Peacehaven, Sussex. My grandmother came to the flat to look after Rosemary. This was because Mum was in hospital giving birth to my brother. I have no idea how I got to Peacehaven or how I got back to Hayes. I remember being on the Downs, there was barbed wire all along the top, I was with an adult and we threw stones over the wire on to the beach below. One lunch time we had bacon roll for dinner -- it was horrible made of suet pastry with scraps of bacon in it and then boiled. I remember standing on a path and a lady telling me that I had a baby brother. She said his name was Vincent George and I argued with her saying 'His name is Christopher'. Christopher was indeed going to be his name but when he was born Dad changed it to Vincent George.

My Dad was not called up to fight in the war even though he was passed A1 fit. He was in a reserved occupation and did fire watching atthe Landis and Gyre factory at Acton. He used to get 1/6d an hour for this. His duties seemed to consist mainly of putting incendary bombs into buckets of water. The fire watchers had an alsatian dog with them - his name was Rufus. While Dad was on fire watching he made me a lovely wooden scooter, a gold wire bracelet and a walker with wooden bricks in it.

I must have started school in c. 1943. This was at Tudor Road Infants School, Southall, Middlesex. One day I sat in the class room and wished the sirens would go so that we could go in the shelters and not do any lessons. The shelters were awful, built of bricks, damp and very smelly. We were not allowed to go home from school unless we had an adult with us. The windows panes in the classrooms were all criss-crossed with strips of brown paper.

One day, when I was out playing at Hayes Bridge Court, a doodle-bug flew over with the black smoke pouring out of the back of it. I ran indoors very excited saying 'I've seen a doodle-bug, I've seen a doodlebug' and Mum gave me a good telling off for not going into our shelter immediately.

I never remember being afraidas had known no other way of life. We did not get bombed out, nobody I knew in the flats was killed or injured. Dad did not go away.

Somehow Mum managed to feed us all, even though we did not have a garden to grow our own vegetables in. We had to wear second hand clothes at times but Mum always made sure they were washed and ironed. Sweets were a rarity, so was fruit. There was a Co-op store on near the flats, on the corner of Brookside Road. One time the word went round that there were oranges at the Co-op and people went running to buy whatever they were allowed to have. I only knew what bananas looked like because a greengrocers in Southall Broadway had an artifical bunch in the shop.

Mum always did the family wash on a Monday. She had a copper which heated the water. Monday dinner was always bubble and squeak and cold meat from Sunday. She was doing well if she had all the whites done by lunch time, she did the colours in the early part of the afternoon then walked to the school to meet me when I came out about 3.30. She would do the shopping then we often walked on to Southall Park for a while. One day going home the air raid sirens went and a policeman ordered us all into a shelter near Southall Town Hall. Mum protested that she had to get home to get her husbands' dinner but it was no we had to go until the all-clear sounded.

I can remember wondering what tea tasted like because Mum and Dad had the ration. We children drank cocoa and Mum often sweetened it with syrup. When you had drunk all the cocoa you would find most of the syrup in the bottom of your cup.

We used to walk along the Uxbridge Road to go to the food office -
a most unattractive building that was all just bare concrete inside. Just before we got to the food office there was a blacksmiths and sometimes we children would stand in the doorway watching the blacksmith shoe a horse while Mum went on to the food office.

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