On the Home Front World War II
When we think of times of war, we tend to think of soldiers on the battlefield, ships
and submarines or battles in the air and so we should, but whilst this was going
on people were at home trying to bring up children in as normal a life as possible.
Can you imagine it though?
I’ll draw here on my own parents. My father, at the outbreak of war went along to
the recruiting office to enlist. “Sorry they told him, we’ve got you down as a reserved
occupation.” Some years before, between jobs, he drove a bus and had a PSV license.
They decided that they might need him for ‘special duties’. So he joined the Auxiliary
Fire Service instead.
He had a younger brother in the navy and a brother in law in the merchant navy both
of whom were later killed, whilst my mother had two brothers to worry about, one
an Eighth Army Sergeant and one a C.P.O. in the submarine service, her other brother
was a farmer and therefore reasonably safe. They also had two children, my older
sister and of course me.
For a good part of the war she had her army brother’s wife living with us, as living
in a small village near the coast and worrying daily about her husband, she didn’t
want to be alone. But mum and dad, and millions of other people just carried on
as near normal lives as possible. I remember being tucked up in my nice warm bed
and read stories at night, though I only remember waking up in my own bed on one
or two occasions. I have more memories of waking in our Anderson shelter, where at
the air raid’s warning, I had been plucked from my bed and taken to its relative
safety. I also remember when I was a bit older, in the middle of the night, making
my mum stand in the doorway of the Anderson and shoot down the enemy aircraft with
my toy gun.
What must have been going through her mind? She had just taken my sister and me
from our beds, she had closed the back door, would she ever open it again, or would
there be no house left? How much sleep did she have? I don’t think she ever missed
a warning. My aunt would never come down to the shelter, another worry for mum.
Would she still be alive in the morning?
She would go shopping, I wonder if she ever thought as she budgeted her ration coupons
that the shop she was in might not be there tomorrow. Many weren’t. But life went
Birthdays and Christmases looking for presents. What could they buy? Very little.
My mum and dad used to make ours.
Then dad, going out sometimes during a bombing raid fighting fires, knowing mum was
at home on her own with my sister and me to look after.
I often wonder how he felt when he freed a small boy and his younger sister he found
trapped behind a load of furniture in a recently bombed building.
The little boy, no tears as he put his arm round his sister just said, “Thanks mister,
we knew you’d come.” I wonder if he thought then of his own children, my sister
Yes, life went on.