- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Hilda May Eastley (born 17.9.29)
- Location of story:
- Exmouth Town and Woodbury Salterton Village
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 June 2005
This story has been written onto the BBC People's War site by CSV Storygatherer Coralie on behalf of Hilda May Eastley. The story has been added to the site with her permission and Hilda fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.
At the start of the War I remember I was only attending school in the mornings or afternoons when all the evacuees descended on the town of Exmouth. Later we attended full days with all halls in the town being used as extra classrooms. (I remember) Gas mask drills; Air raid drills; also classrooms out in the countryside; gathering the Rosehips for Vitamin C (for Baby's Rosehip Syrup; gangs of children out in the countryside picking potatoes helping the local farmers; farm kids excused school milk and stamp card; this (or that) child excused for Vital War Work.
I was such a child and left school at thirteen years working on the family Dairy Farm with the men, as a man, doing milking, tractor driving, butchery, legal and illegal rounding up of cattle on horseback and shooting rabbits for the pot. A Young Lady? More of a young man the way I was brought up.
I was out in the meadow, I remember, up on horseback, or a tractor, feeding stock, when a plane came just over the top of the farm buildings, skimming along just above the trees. I was so surprised, I didn't hear it as the tractor was noisy. I saw this pilot very plainly, with all his flying outfit on, and waved to him. He flew on straight into the Airport and dropped a string of bombs. I was so surprised it was a Jerry, and the cheeky rascal flew back over the Farm, circled and waved back to me.
Lots of Yanks were around all the villages at night, with the girls in the lanes. At night the troops were moved up the lanes onto the Common at Woodbury, sometimes hundreds on foot, (never in many cars?). Yanks also took over the Cattle Market in Exeter. Father was very shocked at these huge dark men, the first he had ever seen, and he touched his cap very respectfully, much to the amusement of the young G.I's. Never had they such respect! It seemed an unreal time, we would never be the same again.
People on farms did not know much about rationing. All sorts of persons were on the scrounge, calling for eggs, butter, a chicken or whatever was on offer. Father and I killed pigs, calves and sheep, and a local butcher at Exmouth came overnight and took it back for the customers in the shop the next day. Only family did this as it was done after staff went home to keep it all undercover. Even the local policeman had his piece of pork and used to load up his saddle-bag on his bike. Tea, sugar, and dried fruit for instance, were all exchanged for whatever around friends etc. A lot of money was also made this way - sad but true. I shall never forget those years.
Later, after the end of the war, the prisoners from the Channel Islands, who were mostly from the Frankfurt area in Germany, were brought back to work on the farms along the coast.
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