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WW twice from a different perspective

Discussion in 'Community Message Board' started by red stripe, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    Today is a special day. Veterans day.

    And my grateful thanks go out to all, both past and present that preserve and protect our freedoms.


    The “war to end all wars†the First World War officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. But fighting had ceased seven months earlier when the armistice was signed between the Allied nations and Germany.
    It went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    As we are sadly aware this war was by no means the last, and about 20 years later there was world war 2 or as I usually call it.. “WW twiceâ€

    Naturally we should all honour the brave men and women that have served and are still serving.

    But I thought that you might be interested in that war from another perspective.
    So here are my memories. They are disjointed, and I am not sure in what order the first ones were.

    *I am sitting on my mothers lap on the stairs of my grandmother’s house. Back then my parents lived with her.
    We are almost at the bottom of the stairs, and she is squeezing me tight while she huddles against the wall. All I can hear is the wailing of sirens and the sound of the ack -ack guns, and some explosions. Suddenly there is light bursting in on us.
    A large piece of the neighbour’s house comes through the ceiling onto the landing above and bounces down the stairs and right past us, hitting the wall at the bottom where the staircase turned.

    The house directly across from her had a direct hit.
    I remember seeing that house and a few others close by after they were rebuilt after the war. For many years the lighter coloured bricks were a constant reminder of all that had passed.

    *I am standing next to the hall cupboard and my mother and my Nan are getting out this terrible looking mask and seeing if it will fit on my face. It is a gas mask. Everyone had been issued one. It frightens me.

    *I am laying in a cot in what became my Nan's bedroom after the war.
    Back then you could not just go out and find a youth bed for a child, in fact even having a cot was amazing.
    I remember seeing newborns in our home sleeping in dresser drawers. So a child would still sleep in a cot even if they had to bend their legs to do so.

    I have turned sideways in it, and have my whole body to the top of my thighs hanging out through the bars. It is night. The curtains are not pulled and the moonlight is streaming in the windows, casting the shapes of the window frames across the room and across me.
    I am mesmerized by it.
    Suddenly the sirens start their wailing, and the searchlights start to criss-cross the sky.
    My mother runs in and without putting on a light (blackout rules) she tries to pull me from the bed, but in her panic she does not realize that my legs are through the bars. So she is pounding my legs against the bars and then letting me fall back, until she realizes and helps me to disentangle my legs and she pulls me up into her arms and runs down the stairs, out through the kitchen door and around the back of the house to the “bomb shelterâ€. By now bombs are dropping a little way from us.
    She runs to the shelter and starts down the steps and suddenly tosses me onto the left hand cot.

    A word about shelters.
    We all had one built in our back gardens. Most were like my Nan’s. About 7 foot long and perhaps 5 foot wide. And it is sunk into the ground about 4 foot. This 4-foot bit becomes ponds for some owners after the war.
    It is poured cement. And the top is level with the ground. Over that is a corrugated piece of tin, just Like the Quonset hut shape.

    The open entry to this is at one of the narrow ends. In it is two cots. If you have seen the old movie of the stretchers with the two poles and kaki material stretched across them. Think about this same thing with crossed legs to keep it off the floor.
    Later I learn that my mother was ill and that is why she was home alone that night, while everyone else was at work up at the Bristol Aeroplane Company in Filton. When she got to the top step she knew she was going to faint and so tossed me away from her.

    when the Germans started tactical bombing, Filton was the first target. The Aeroplane factory there was immense for that time. in my family (on my mothers side) those who were not serving in the armed forces worked there.

    The bomb shelters always amused me. Something 4 foot into the ground and covered with tin, and about 10 foot from the house. If the house had been hit you would have been buried.

    *I am on someone’s shoulders; “everyone†had gone down to the village pub for the evening. They are now on their way home along “Chalk lane†it is pitch black because of the blackout, everyone is singing “Lilly Marleneâ€
    Suddenly the sounds of the sirens.. searchlights going and planes are flying over our heads. We are still as statues, as you hear them pass, and we watch as the bombs find targets a few miles in front of us.
    It is actually a German song that was adopted by everyone. I remember most of the words to this day. “Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate†Funnily enough the ruling Germans hated it, and so did the allies, but the regular soldier loved it, and in spite of both sides trying to ban it. It was an immense favorite, and sung everywhere. I was shocked to eventually find out that this was not a British song.

    *We are walking back from the shops. Suddenly there is the sound of an engine above you, a droning noise. We all stand still and pray for the noise to continue. We are fortunate.. It continues on, and the grownups say a prayer for those along its way. It is a V-one bomb; better known as “buzz bombs†they were launched from a ramp and were pilot less. Once the engine stopped the bomb was coming to earth.
    We were fortunate in that we did not get many of these.

    *I am playing in the street with my friends.. In the sky is Balloon barrages tethered to the ground. This is normal. After the way the sky looked empty to us for some time.


    *Nan’s house was on the last street of that housing area. Behind her house was fields rolling away as far as I can see.
    I used to craw through the makeshift fence and walk across the large high fenced area that had a few long huts in it.
    I would sit next to the fence and make daisy chains.
    I felt sorry for the men in there, some of them would sit next to the fence and cry and try to touch my hand. I would hand them a daisy chain. They would talk to me but I did not understand them.
    Later I understood that they were German Prisoners of War. They were our enemy, but they were also fathers and brothers. And they did not know it they would ever see their family again.

    *******



    And I hope that on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day 11am. you will join me as I bow my head and take a minute to remember all that have fallen... as we all used to do before the cenotaphs in our towns and villages.
     
  2. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    After the war.

    Getting back to “normal†took time after the war.’ Bristol took a beating, and a lot of the ruins had not been cleared until after I was grown and married.

    Now everyone was building planes, and on occasion they would be flying overhead. Back then they were not flying real high either.
    This caused problems for some of us. I remember walking across a street in downtown Bristol one day and a plane went over. I dropped to the ground and put my arms over my head.
    Getting used to hearing planes and them not being a threat took time. And to this day the sound of the sirens makes me go cold inside.
    It has occurred to me that perhaps this is why I do not like flying.
    After the war I would have terrible nightmares, I would come screaming out of my bed. I wet the bed. I walked in my sleep.
    The latter was a bit of a problem.
    I would walk down the stairs and into the kitchen where I would put my head in the gas oven. The last time I did this I would have been about 10.
    Back then you did not get a bill for electricity or gas. You had two meters usually under the stairs, one for gas and one for electricity. You “fed’ them schillings. If you ran out of money then you had no gas or electricity. Simple.
    So to abort me gassing myself or them the adults would turn off the gas at these boxes each night.
    They had tried placing a pan of water at the bottom of the stairs, but in the odd way that sleepwalkers have.. I would step over it.

    Eventually I ended up seeing a “doctorâ€. To this day I can see where his office was. On the left next to the harbor downtown.
    I would go there with my mother and I just remember bits.
    I remember that they would leave me in a room with toys. This was amazing because like most children at that time, toys were not as bountiful as now.
    The main thing was a big dolls house, and I would play with the dolls in it for ages.
    I now know that I was being observed. Then I went into his office and he sat me up on a bench. It was rather dim in there. I remember a moving speck of light and then nothing more.
    Mum told me that they hypnotized me. The verdict was something not uncommon for children back then. I was suffering from “shell-shockâ€
    These days you call it posttraumatic stressâ€
    They put me in an “open air school†This was a place where you would do very little actual schoolwork, and be allowed to heal in a peaceful setting.
    My school was a beautiful manor house in Minehead. I was scared to death to be leaving all my family and going where I knew no one, and did not know what was expected of me.

    I remember that it looked like a castle to me, and the wonderful flower gardens around it.
    I was put in a room with about 5 other girls.

    I can never forget my first meal there on the day I arrived.
    We all set at long tables. I was sat at the end of one, the “table monitor†sat at the other end. A lady came around with a trolley filled with plates and large containers from which she would serve the food onto the places and each plate was passed down the table.
    The monitor said that tonight’s meal was beef stew with dumplings. I said I loved dumplings. What I meant was that I loved my mothers or Nan’s dumplings.
    These were small hard balls of stuff dripping with fat. I could not eat them.
    The meal came to an end and we all passed our plates back. Being at the end, I was last.
    When the monitor got my plate he said that as I said I loved dumplings I should eat these, and he passed my plate back.
    I said they were terrible and passed it back.
    He passed.. You get the picture.. I am a scared 10 year old, and he must have been about 14, so looked like a giant to me.
    I took the plate and this time instead of handing it to the girl next to me to pass on up the line I gave the plate a swirl and it went flying up the table to land in his lap. I really do not remember much of this from that point on. But I never sat at his table again.

    On the back of the house was a very big half moon shaped veranda.
    Beyond it were more gardens, and to the right were some outbuildings that housed sheep and chickens etc.
    They occupied our minds by assigning us to doing light gardening, or taking care of an animal etc.

    Each afternoon we would go to a room and the teacher would open a huge cupboard and inside were more of those same cots we had used in bomb shelters. Each one had a number on it, and that same number was on a blanket and pillow.
    My number was #14
    You would take your stuff out onto this stone veranda if it was not raining, and lay down and a teacher would read a story.
    This part drove me nuts.. She read way too slow and I was not in the least tired.

    You put on plays, and made scenery, I remember doing basket weaving.

    I stayed there almost a year, I got home in time to sit for my 11 plus exams… after doing almost no schoolwork for all that time. Naturally I did rather poorly. But at least I did not stick my head in any gas ovens

    Now if any of you see this as something for pity.. I will come to your house and sleepwalk.

    You know how you look back at things past and it is as if you are watching someone else.
    I know that I love to hear Maw’s stories because she describes a life that I am not familiar with. I thought that some of you would also like to see what life was like at that time and in that place.

    I also hope that some of you from that era will chip in and share.
     
  3. Tobyn

    Tobyn Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the memories red. I will certainly join you. Isat and tried to imagine the things people went through with the bombing and such. Even though I am a veteran, the thought of the scenes you describe makes me shudder.
     
  4. Jeanie

    Jeanie Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing your memories, they are very touching
     
  5. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member


    Tobyn, and I see photos of the children in places like Dresden and wonder how they survived and did not go mad. What some areas went through was so much worse than we had.

    It is always the same.. we can always look and find someone worse off than ourselves.

    But it is odd when I think that childrens favorite playgrounds were always the bombed out areas.

    And think of the POW camps.. what they lived and died with.

    The human race has a remarkable resilience.
     
  6. earl_m

    earl_m Social Host

    Thank You for Sharing!
     
  7. maw

    maw Wordsmith

    When WW!! began I lived in the countrybut we had an army base nearby. They b ought up my uncles farm not once but twice after World War !1 they returned it to him then took it again during Korean War. I remember going to town on Saturday night and watching the soldiers on square. Mother had two sisters who were in late teens and they would put me up to whistleing and hollering at the solders as they went by. As Red said they would gather around and chat with the girls. I remember my mom and grandmother stocking up on certain things--for a time we lived at Branson and there was one store down there that the owner was always forgetting to collect the Rationing stamps. Luckly other than gas and sugar we had our own veggies and meat.
    My grandfather worked during the war driving a bus from camp to town. We also had a prison camp not far for Germans and Italions as I remember they were officers. only ever saw them from highway.

    Like Red I used to have night mares we did not hve the bombs but we had LIFE magazine with its grafic pictures. All the talk of atomic bomb was very scary. You can imagine my thoughts when a fireworks stand expoloded a block from house. I was sure we were all goners. One of the games I played frequently was to get on a cot or blanket and pretend it was a shelter where I would be safe from bombs. Of course no bombs but just being close to military installation made me think of them.

    My Dad helped build many of the camps around the midwest. He lived away from home quite a bit of the time. We lived in Lincoln Nebraska and I remember the 4th a July celebration at park I had a sailor dress so I got to be in the parade waving a flag.
    My uncle was on the last ship to leave Manilla which is the last place family is sure of . His ship went to Java Sea where it was sunk. All hands were lost. My other uncles were in air force and regular army. My dad was 4 F which do to eyes, recent hernia surgery and flat feet. So he did not serve in military.

    My mother told me abt her memories of WW 1--she had lived ner a german family and how they celebrated when the war was over. Mother hated cornbread as this was all they had on farm--no white flour.

    Red enjoyed your share so much of your life. It is so hard for me to imagine what it was like for you--I had a dear friend in Bolivar who was also English and she shared so much of her life with me. I wanted to go to England with her but she refused to go back.
     
  8. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    A moment of silence.
     
  9. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    Thanks maw for sharing your memories.

    Back then it was as if the whole of England was one military barracks. Almost everyone you saw wore a uniform.
    My uncles on both sides of the family served. Some in Burma and some in Europe. I can still remember when my uncle Ron (one of my mothers brothers) was demobbed and returned home.

    Maw, in England the rationing was fierce, you could not gat away with anything.
    I really can not remember exact amounts.. but I know that a family not an individualwere allowed a couple of ounces of meat a week. That is if there was any to buy, and if you had the money to buy it.

    There was no butter, just an obscene orange/yellow coloured lard they called margarine.
    For the most part our meals were lots of potatoes and bread.
    When you cooked meat back then, you did not clean out the pan it cooked in, that fat (drippings) was saved and the next piece of meat cooked in it also and so on. When there was enough to spare you could have a real treat.. bread and dripping sandwiches.
    Sounds gross today, but back then that tantalizing taste of meat in that fat was wonderful.

    For the most part we had terrible diets, as everything was strictly rationed, and often not available anyway.

    Another funny memory. When I got married I already had kidney disease, and had a bad flareup that put me in the hospital.
    The American Doctors were very through and did many tests.
    One day the Doctor came up to my bed and started to blast our my husband.. “what are you feeding her? What is wrong with all of you young British girls? Each one of you have some liver damage from bad dietsâ€// and so on.

    I shut him up in a hurry.. telling him not to blame my husband for WW twice and an extremely bad diet.. one that lasted into the 1950’s when rationing ended.
    Oh yes.. he was seeing a lot of people my age with these symptoms.. but look at what we had been through.
    He apologized to my husband and asked me what I ate back then…
    Potatoes, bread and dripping, bread and sugar (when you could get sugar) meat about once every month that you could have read the paper through.
    Hahaha it was rather an eye opener for him.

    I used to have my last ration book, but not sure that I still possess it.

    Maw, I can also remember everyone running out into the streets and crying, kissing and singing and cheering when piece was declared.
    We children did not understand what it was all about.
    Maw, I expect that our prisoners near nan were also officers, as they were pilots.
    This was not a “stalag seventeen†type of place, I remember it as small and with only a few buildings. And you know how everything is remembered larger then it is.. so if I still think of it as small,…
    There were a lot of places like that all around the country.
    The fence was 8 to 10 foot chain link. Not much was needed because where would they go? We are an island and for the most part they did not speak our language, or if they did.. spoke it with a strong accent. They were actually safer in there, as being surrounded by people that are being bombed and watching for that telegraph man to come calling did not put the populous in a good frame of mind.
    Oh I remember seeing that messenger in his uniform wheeling his bike up to someone’s door. What a terrible job for him. Always the harbinger of death
    [FONT=&quot] Maw, I remember the ladies taking a brown crayon and drawing a line up the back of their legs so that it looked like a stocking seam.:biggrin:[/FONT]
     
  10. korinalacount

    korinalacount Well-Known Member

    Wow Red what an enlightening story,to have to go thru all of that,its amazing,thank U for what U had to suffer. My Dad was in WW 2 as was my father-in-law,Johns Dad was stationed in Hawaii and luckily made it out of the war to die in his early 50s hitting a tree with a snowmobile. My Dad was a cook on a ship in Marthas Vineyard at the time,my mom doesnt remember a lot of it,we (john and I) have been researching it,cant believe how many Robert Timms there are.My mom remembers her Dad in war time (he was a vet for animals for 50 years)getting up at the crack of dawn to deliver her Dad to help animals in need everywhere,she was 9 years old when she starting driving her father around to care for thes animals,I cant imagine that.Later when she married my Dad they would get a lot of gas rationing as my father owned a trucking company and for delivery of goods they would get lots more coupons. I remember some more but thats what comes to mind right now,again Red U should write all this down and make sure it lives beyond U,we need to hear these stories lest we forget. God bless America,God bless the world.
     
  11. nieciez

    nieciez Well-Known Member Community Sponsor

    Thank you Red for sharing this remarkable story with us. You've lived a remarkable life my friend.
     
  12. TexasSue

    TexasSue Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for the memories. It really brings to light how different things were. Susan
     
  13. popcorn

    popcorn Well-Known Member

    My Dad wasn't in the war but he served as an air-raid warden for our neighbourhood and went out every night to see that everyone had their black out curtains up. We had thick blankets that we put up each night. And there was always a bucket of sand, a shovel & flashlight by the front door.

    And we had margarine that we had to mix some yellow stuff in to make it look like butter! And I remember a friend of my parents got a car (my Dad waited till I was 16 to get his first car) so we took a drive into Washington to Mt. Vernon so we could have a salad!

    And the racial tension was unbelievable, especially when Asia got involved. The neighbourhood that I grew up in banned Japanese. In fact several races even the native Indians.

    It is good to remember these things. And I hope that it never happens again!

    Liz
     
  14. Cruise cutie

    Cruise cutie Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the insight...may it be that we never have terror on our Home shores again.. here and abroad...Joanne
     
  15. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    unfortunately cutes.. we seem doomed to repeat these things. :((
     
  16. Beryl

    Beryl Trivia Specialist

    Red...thanks for posting your memories. I hope you don't mind but I copied them and sent them on to a dear friend whose Mum was a war bride who was a Norland Nurse until she became ill with TB and was no longer able to continue that work. She met a handsome young Canadian soldier, they married, she sailed to Canada and their oldest daughter became one of my very best friends (we've been pals for 58 years this year). Thank you from both of us for this share!
     
  17. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    Not at all Beryl,

    and there is another story that needs telling, please get her to share..

    I often think about those war brides and their total leap of faith in trusting their lives to someone from another country.

    It may not seem like much these days when we are whizzing all around the world, But back then we hardly knew anything about America etc. we learned about it in history lessons, but as for up to date stuff.. we were in the dark.
    Back then the only people going from England to Europe were either the rich or the big business people.. going to America with someone and starting up a new life was unheard of.

    Heck.. I remember how I felt in 1960 when I came across.. things were not much more enlightened then. But at least we were getting some of your news..
     
  18. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    Red - I've just now read your early life experiences, I'm glad I waited until this evening to read it, while I had no distractions. Even reading what you wrote, it is still hard to believe what you, and so many others went through. Although I've read plenty about it, and I've seen many pictures, it still is phenomenal to Stop and Think about it. Thank you for sharing your life with us.
     
  19. red stripe

    red stripe Well-Known Member

    You are welcome Corky... and just think.. you are living history yourself:biggrin:
     
  20. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    So true, so true...I've been thinking about getting one of those Grandmother books that a grandmother is supposed to fill out, listing their life experiences. I gave one to my mom, she never filled it out, and I gave one to Den's dad, same thing. I guess it is going to be up to me. :whistle:
     

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