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My Family: The Second World War.
A Family At War.
On the outbreak of war the majority of children in the Towns and Cities which were vulnerable to German bombers were evacuated. They were placed with families throughout Britain who lived in more rural areas. Tens of thousands of children were mustered at railway stations and sent sometimes hundreds of miles from their homes. One such child was my elder sister Doris known to all as Dot. She was sent approximately eighty miles north of Manchester where we lived, to a town called Lancaster, which is in the north west of England.
Unhappy And Lonely, A Year Of Tears.
The family with whom she was billeted had a daughter of their own and took Dot as a friend for her, both at home and at school. Dot was there for almost one year. In that time my parents tried to send a small food parcel when they could. They managed to send one approximately once a month. In that time of almost a year they were able to visit only once. We have to remember here, that Britain was under fire with bombers coming over every night in some periods. Workers had to stay at their posts, travel was not as we know it today. Contact was made by post, public telephone boxes were placed in the streets. Unless it was urgent the working population generally used the telephone for emergencies only. People did not have a phone at home in any case.
A Shock For Mum And Dad.
On my parents second visit after almost a year they took Dot to the local park. There she became upset, she was of course wanting to come home. She told how she had not received any food parcels, she knew that parcels arrived by post but nothing was ever said to her about them. Incredibly this family had been keeping the extra food for themselves. Yes, Dot was eating what was being provided in the usual way but there were no extras. Furthermore, Mum and Dad had always put a loving letter of support in the parcel. This of course had never been delivered. In the letters Dot was told to try and look at the moon on certain evenings, at a certain time. Mum and Dad would be looking at the same time and they would send her their love. Although they did look at the moon and send her their love Dot was totally unaware of the moment. Dot of course knew nothing of these letters and her feelings of abandonment were clear. My parents were enraged and returned to the see the family, at first they said that the food had been used for all, however they could not explain the reason for not giving Dot the enclosed letters.
Dad Takes The Initiative.
Dad had managed to borrow a van from his employer for that visit. Fortunately they were able to take Dot home with them. There had been a great altercation in the street between the two families, after which Dad drove him Mum and Dot home. Due to his employer Dad found a wonderful family in North Wales to take Dot for another year. This time the van was made available to Dad and as long as he put petrol in it, he was allowed to go and see her at weekends finances permitting.
Now we come to Dad going missing. He was employed as a driver for a small delivery company and although there was a war on life had to carry on as near to normal as possible. One evening the air raid sirens sounded, Dad did not know where the local shelter was as he was on a delivery. A bomb dropped and hit a property he was passing. His van was blown over and he took a shrapnel wound to the head. The shrapnel skimmed his head and opened a large wound in his scalp. He was taken to the local hospital and kept in for four days. This happened on a Monday evening, when he did not return my Mother was frantic with worry. Without transport she walked for miles trying to find out what had happened to him, over two days and nights. With the help of his employer, she found out which hospital he was in on Wednesday. On Thursday he was allowed home, on Friday he was back at work. A standing family joke in later years was Mum saying 'I lost him on Monday and found him on Wednesday'. Not really a joke but it always raised a laugh.
After The War.
After the war things were tough in Britain. Food was rationed and extras such as sweets and extra clothing were non existent for the working classes. Needless to say however, if you had the money and knew where to go almost anything was available.
Dads boss retired but found him employment as a chauffer to friend of his. The friend was only to pleased to take on someone recommended by a friend. People had to be so careful employing someone in a position of trust. Dad felt this was a reward for his past efforts, though nothing was said, I feel this was probably true. Mum found work as a cleaner to a lovely couple, the lady stayed at home and the gentleman was a doctor of some repute who worked at Manchester University. So life went on for our family, although it was an ordinary life and money was always tight, it was a family with love sewn into it and that in a way made us all millionaires.