- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mary and Stanley Fowler, sons Brian, Geoffrey, daughter Sandra and Aunt Florence (Flo) Fowler
- Location of story:
- Armley, Leeds. Yorkshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 April 2005
WW2 through the eyes of my Mother
I was born in 1947 and brought up with stories of the War by my Mother. She, like most women at the time were left at home to look after the children whilst the husbands went off to war.
My Dad left Leeds in 1940 and did not return until the end of 1945. My two brothers were born in 1938 and 1940. I remember my Mum saying that the money was short and she would wait for the small amount my Dad sent her. She was lucky that my Auntie lived next door so the two women brought up 4 children between them and shared with cooking, providing food and childcare. At one point my Auntie went to work in an ammunition factory nearby whilst my Mum looked after the children
The houses they lived in were on a hill overlooking Armley Rail Station and there was a shelter at the bottom of the hill. My Mums philosophy was that if it was your time you would go no matter where you were, so after one attempt at trying to get two children out of bed when the bombing started she decided she would leave them in bed and hope the bombs missed the cottages.
One day, the German bombers came and aimed for the train station behind the cottages and a incendary bomb landed outside the house. Luckily my Uncle Jim as visiting my Mum and he jumped into action straight away by running outside the house and picking up the bomb and throwing it over a wall where it exploded. His only thought was to save his sister and her sons and in the event burnt his hands and face and had to go to hospital for treatment.
Luckily, nothing happened to my Mum or brothers and Uncle Jim didnt suffer any long term effects.
Near the end of the war my Mum decided to work at the asbestos factory throwing sacks of asbestos onto the trains waiting to take it away. She did this job for 3 weeks and decided it was not for her but was grateful to get some money. The rationing of most food products was hard and I know that she was happy that some land had been loaned to her and Auntie to grow vegetables in the Summer to supplement their food.
My brothers were always looking for their soldier Daddy to come home and by the time my Dad did come home neither of them recognised him.
My Dad was lucky that he came back unscathed by wounds but mentally I dont think he ever got over it.
My Dads story was he was sent to North Africa at first then Greece and Italy, where he drove ammunition lorries. I did spot him on BBC's The World at War programme where I could see him playing football on a visit of Montgomery to the Desert Rts.. He had many adventures driving and on one occassion had been drivng for 3 days when he dropped off to sleep and went off the road. Luckily he was Ok after the shock of it. On another occassion his convoy was strathed by bombers and he jumped out and hid at the side of the road. His driving partner jumped under the lorry. My Dad being his usual straight forward talkin shouted at the guy to get the !!!! out of there as they were after the lorries full of ammunition and he was under it. I remember my Dad did not talk about the war too much but I do know that he was very upset at seeing all the young soldiers that were killed around 17 and 18 as he was a older married man of 28?
The wounds to the ones left at home were just as strong. Both my brothers have had emotional problems when they grew older and no one knows how hard it was for my Mum after 6 years struggling on no money .
When I was born my Dad had just had pneumonia so not much money was available for me and as it was the coldest Winter in the 20th centuary my Dad had to get coal from the railway tracks where it had fallen off the rail wagons.
I remember as child the poverty still existed for most people in Armley. I remeber the ration books and always wanted some chocolate and fruit. I remember once having to share a Mars bar between 4 of us. Those were the days.
The footnote to all this now looking back from 2005 is my Mum died of asbestosis, my Dad died of a stroke due to smoking and stress and both my brothers suffer from heart problems. I wonder how much of this was caused by the war which was started because one man wanted to rule the world. That idea killed so many people but ruined countless other peoples lives who survived but at what cost.
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