As She Remembers
Written by ACE
January 13, 2017
Filed under Showcase
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She sat back in the rocking chair remembering how her Nanny used to.Then she recalled the story that she couldn’t forget. In August 1939, she had been a 15 year old in London, living her life just like she had always before. Spending time with her mates from the neighborhood, playing with her siblings, reading books and going to the beach. Not having a care in the world. But on September 1st 1939, all of that changed.
Hitler had declared war on Poland. On September 3rd all the adults told the children to play outside while they huddled around the radio in the living room. But she wanted to know what was happening, so she stayed behind, hiding behind the wall. It was dead silent while Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation. She heard him say, “…I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany… my long struggle to win peace has failed…” She sat back against the wall and kept listening, “… to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland, but Hitler would not have it. He had evidently made up his mind to attack Poland whatever happened, and although he now says he put forward reasonable proposals which were rejected by the Poles, that is not a true statement.” She couldn’t believe her ears, she was dumbfounded, she was smart enough to know what all of this meant. “… We and France are today, in fulfilment of our obligations, going to the aid of Poland, who is so bravely resisting this wicked and unprovoked attack on her people. We have a clear conscience. We have done all that any country could do…” Under the sound of Chamberlain’s voice she heard quiet sobbing, and shy beckonings of comfort. “The Government have made plans which it will be possible to carry on the work of the nation in the days of stress and strain that may be ahead. But these plans need your help. You may be taking your part in fighting services or as a volunteer in one of the branches of Civil Defense. If so you will report for duty in accordance with the instructions you have received. You may be engaged in work essential to the prosecution of war for the maintenance of the life of the people- in factories, in transport, in public utility concerns, or in the supply of other necessaries of life. If so, it is of vital importance that you should carry on with your jobs.” She couldn’t handle it anymore, she ran out of the house and down the street as fast as she could. The adults continued to listen, “Now may God bless you all. May He defend the right…”
The next week they gave a farewell to her uncle’s.
“Ah, uncle Mic, we’ll miss you an awful lot. Sure will pray a lot and we won’t forget to send you letters. Same for you uncle Albert, we won’t forget! Love you lots!” And they were off uncle Albert to the Navy, and uncle Mic to the Army. Thankfully her father didn’t have to go. He stayed and worked hard, so hard that the kids barely saw him.
One evening after the family was done planting their vegetable garden. A Decree for all the children in London was sent out. They were to be moved to the coast, where they would be safe from the bombing. The next morning she, her brother Donald and her twin Rita, were all dropped off by their mum at the children’s camp.
They were only allowed one bag each. Once they had arrived and assigned cabins they were to do chores that were given to them on a daily basis. She saw a few people that she recognized, but they weren’t her friends so she kept to herself. All the boys in the camp always seemed to be watching her, so she asked a girl she was bunking with,
“Have you noticed the boys looking at me?
“Well yeah, wouldn’t they? Everyone is looking at you…”
“They better get those ugly smiles off their smug faces, because I’m not interested in them.”
“Lassy you don’t have no clue do you?”
“No clue about what?” she answered.
“ You’re so confident! You talk directly and to the point, and aren’t afraid of giving your opinion. You even do up your pretty, curly, black hair each day in a new style. I’m so jealous.”
They became good friends in the 5 weeks that she stayed there. After that she and her siblings left because their mum was so sad and lonely without them at home. She sent their Nana and Papa out to the coast to pick them up. Along the road on the way back they saw planes in the sky, dropping bombs onto to people’s homes. They smelled the smoke filled skies, and saw rubble lying about the country roads. She stepped out of the car as they got home. The air was dusty and it had already started to settle onto the cobblestone of the house. As she hugged her mother, she reached out behind her to rub the stone. Papa and her mama got their stuff from the car and Rita came to talk to her.
“You know,” she said, “every time one of those bombs make the earth shake beneath us, it makes me feel like the world is falling apart.” Their family had entered the house, so they were the only ones left outside, she reached over, held Rita’s hand in her own, squeezing it tightly, they followed the family inside.
Soon after getting back from the children’s camp, she got a job. The first job she got was in an office, but that didn’t last long because there wasn’t enough work to do. The second job she got was at Mac Fisheries in the market. But as the bombings became more frequent, all of the private markets and schooling were in danger. One day when Mac Fisheries was bombed they shut down to prevent injury from the broken and falling building. Out of a job again she stayed home. With nothing better to do she chased buzz bombs down the streets with the neighborhood kids. She would run after them until they stopped buzzing then she’d run the opposite way to get away before it blew up. All the kids did it, it was cool. If you didn’t risk your life to chase down a murder weapon aimed at killing hundreds of civilians, you were a wimp. So all the kids who were fools did it.
The bombings intensified, on her street and the streets around theirs too. Whenever London would be bombed the air raid sirens would wail. That meant the people in the community would run and hide in their bomb shelters. Sometimes families were in their bomb shelters for days until the sirens stopped screaming. There are beautiful moments in life, some of these moments came while they were under 6 feet of cement. People would dance, laugh, sing, serenade them to sleep, do stand up comedy. There was a lot of laughter. Things that kept their minds off war and what was happening on the surface. But Sometimes she didn’t have the sirens as a warning. Her house would be bombed and her mother would grab the butter off the counter and they’d dive under the reinforced metal dining room table, called a Morrison shelter, until the bombing was over. Hoping their house wouldn’t be directly hit like many sadly were.
She was practically 18 by now and she needed a new job. She went to the Employment Agency. They got her a job working at the Farman Aircraft Factory in South Wimbledon. That was difficult because the men who were left working didn’t appreciate having only women to work with. While she was at work one day news spread that London had again been surprise bombed. Newsboys brought copies to all the factories, and a matron would read the places listed that suffered damage.
“Fires ablaze in some London suburbs…”
All the workers stopped to listen intently.
“On the list are areas of Wimbledon including Wimbledon park…”
She dropped everything, without a second thought, to run home. She ran as fast as her long legs would carry her, even tripping but getting up quickly to continue home. People surrounded Wimbledon Park, as emergency workers searched through rubble for survivors. She pushed through the crowd and ran past emergency workers who tried to tell her to get back. But she couldn’t stop, so she kept on down the street. She stood in front of her debris scattered yard as smoke arose from the house. Over the vehicle sirens she heard screaming of inaudible words from inside. It was her mother, uninjured, but scared. The bombing continued throughout the night, the factory was just one of the many buildings that were demolished by the bombs. She could see it from her bedroom window. The blaze engulfing the whole building, smoke rising into the sky.
The next big bombing attack that affected everyone was called Blitzkrieg. “Lightning War” The German’s idea of a quick won war. It almost worked too. As they kept pushing forward into France, the French, Britains and Americans were pushed back. Everyone thought the war would be lost until The Battle of Dunkirk was won by the Allies. It proved to everyone that Hitler could be beaten. She celebrated with co-workers. She celebrated with her family. But the war wasn’t over yet. They held tight onto hope as the last of the troops were rallied and sent out. They awaited their victorious return.
In 1945 Hitler killed himself because he thought all was lost. Later, the Germans surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces, thus ending WWii. Over the next couple of weeks they witnessed families being reunited, fathers and brothers coming home. Even her uncle’s, Mic and Albert, were rescued from a POW Camp. It was still a few weeks until they returned, but all that mattered was that they were alive and free.
When uncle Albert came home he had something to ask her.
“Did you hear about the flower hills?”
She and everyone else were confused, “What flower hills?”
“As we headed back on the highways we stopped to look at a memorial someone had made. They had swept up the rubble and mess from explosions, they had put mounds of dirt on top. There they planted flowers, hundreds of daisies bloomed on top of the mounds.
It was beautiful.”
This is only a memory, an account of history past, her history, intricately woven together with the thousands of others like her. Memories now faded that live on in those who loved her. A story of bravery, of honour, of hardships, and pain; but proven to will love and life back in.
A world scarred by evil, bore a man that wanted nothing more than ultimate power. But somehow, goodwill prevailed. She would never forget the deafening sound of air raid sirens or the sounds of mothers screaming for children who were no more, these are things no one should ever forget.
Shape Of Our World
In our part of the world, the atrocities,
are just rumors,
That no one wants to believe.
But the Sky,
and tells us all sorts of things,
Things like the Luftwaffe is fully prepared to tear us,
That the smoke rising from the coast means,
that our Sons, Brothers and Fathers are dying,
So that we may escape an evil that dwells here,
that tears into the hearts of broken men,
Encouraging the reign of terror,
that they feel must come,
To cleanse a,
Of millions of,
Fear that becomes us,
Or those who,
Even if it is,
In an evil way…
This is the shape of our world.
- For segments of the speech;
“The Transcript of Neville Chamberlain’s Declaration of war”
Originally Broadcast nationwide
- For the story about a bomb going off in a Mac Fisheries:
“Bombed Devin shop 1944”
Written by: Colin
- For the WWii timeline:
“Timeline of events preceding World War ii”,“A Timeline of the Holocaust”
- For all the information on Blitzkrieg
Written by: C.N. Trueman
- For information regarding Buzz bombs
“V-1 flying bomb”,“Fieseler-fi-103-v1”
Written by: The museum of flight
- For information regarding air raid shelters:
“World War 2 Air Raid Shelters: Facts and Information”
Written by: James
- A special thanks to Rhoda Mary Ogborn and Hetty May Ashton for their time and participation in making their lives become one amazing, written character’s story, and for the bravery it took to stand up against the evil of the war stricken world.