A child’s war
To the Editor,
I was six years old in 1940. At first a hostilities highlight was creeping out late at night from my bedroom to the backyard to watch the dogfights in the night sky. There were not many spitfires but they sure tore into the enemy bombers.
South West London was considered a prime bombing target so I joined a train load of 800 other children and we went north to Leicester to an apparently less dangerous place to live.
Billeting officers led gaggles of a dozen evacuees door to door on residential streets. Boys kept getting turned down by harried housewives, who often thought girls might be more helpful around the house. Finally I found a spot in a home for the next year. The couple where I stayed offered no semblance of family life to their reluctant guest and after school in company with other boys we ran the streets until my “hosts” came home from work.
I became a writer in later life (see my Wikipedia page) and attribute this later success to the early practice given by weekly letters my eight-year-old fingers penned begging to be allowed to come home.
Eventually the bombing raids worked their way north to Leicester and at last my parents were able to have me come home. School days spent often in lengthy periods in shelters and nights in a damp backyard dug out shelter were no hardship for I was just so happy to be home.
I now look back at it all and the experience of war time life, seeing occasional death and frequent destruction and am thankful our family was not bombed out as others we know.
I was able to go to London in 1946 to watch the Victory Parade on the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace. As I stood on that flag draped avenue, I reflected I was entitled to share in the joy and jubilation that day. I had survived.