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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Early Days of the War

by MickWPC

Contributed by 
People in story: 
William King Hennessey
Location of story: 
North Shields
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 October 2004

I was five years old living in Riverview, North Shields, and was playing in the back yard with my brother when I heard the radio playing in the house. It was the announcement that this country was now at war with Germany. It was a fine day I remember. My mother came running outside into the yard and picked up me and my brother and rushed us into the house for safety - as if the bombs were just about to start dropping there and then. We had to wait for the air-raid shelter to be built so in the meantime if the sirens went off we all gathered under the kitchen table. I wanted to help as much as i could so I helped dig the pits for the Anderson Shelter which was amde out of galvanised steel. When we got the shelter built, which was in Riverview, we soon realised that there was no waterproofing put into it because as soon as it rained we got several inches of water swilling around in the shelter - I think everyone was the same at first. I also have a good memory of the pig bins located at the end of the lane where each family would deposit old cabbage leaves, whatever couldnt be used. These bins were emptied by the Corporation and were collected together to be distributed to local pig farmers who used the waste food to feed up their animals. I remember bad memories of evacuation. I was later evacuated to Keilder together with my brother, and was housed with a family there. They always fed their own three sons first before us and their idea of punishment was to take a stick across your back - needless to say - my mother brought us back to North Shields within a couple of weeks. After that I was sent to Rothbury and my brother went to Hayden Bridge. I stayed with the Hendersons and had a much happier time there. I didnt return home until 1943. They still had barrage balloons up but the raids were just about over by then. I also recall paper collections where we collect books, woolens anything useful - for the war effort. My mother would tease the woolens out, wash it, and knit new garments such as jumpers and balaclavas - so the wool was used over and over - nothing was wasted.

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