P Stables Remembers

When I was five years old, I can remember going to school with a gas
> mask in a brown box with a long strap going over my shoulder. We
> never went anywhere without it. We would be in school when the sirens
> would go off which would tell us German planes were on their way. We
> would walk very quickly to the air raid shelters making sure to keep
> as close to the wall as possible and remain there until the sirens
> would go again to sound the all-clear. We would then return to
> school. Sometimes we would stay there for quite some time. We would
> sing and you could hear some children crying for their mothers. The
> shelters were cold, damp and smelly - not very nice. There were only
> a few lights and we would sit close together to keep warm.
> 1944
> I was a few years old and more aware of what was going on. We lived
> about eight miles from Sheffield, a place called Worsbrough Bridge.
> Our house stood alone, near a canal. There was a wood over to the
> left where there was a colliery which the Germans would have liked to
> bomb, so security was very keen. Search lights and barrage balloons
> were across the sky; cars had shades over their lights to dim the
> lights; there were air raid wardens who would shout: "Get that out!"
> if we had a torch and there weren't any street lights so it was very
> dark.
> All houses would have black curtains at their windows and doors to
> keep any lights out. Our windows had tape crossed over in case a bomb
> dropped - it would stop the glass from shattering. Because we were
> only a few miles from Sheffield, we could see the German bombers
> hitting them. The sky was red from the fires. Hundreds of houses and
> factories were burnt down. Hundreds of people died. I can still hear
> the sound of the German planes coming over our house.
> I had a younger sister. She had a red gas mask like Mickey Mouse. My
> baby brother had a gas mask shaped like a large egg where he would
> lay in it. I hated mine, I felt I couldn't breath - perhaps it was
> fear. Food was rationed. You couldn't just go to the shops to buy
> sweets. We had coupons - they didn't go far. I never saw my mother or
> father eating any. They always gave us their share. Even though food
> was scarce, we never went hungry.
> Everyone had identity cards, having to carry it with us at all times.
> It was a traumatic time for my mother and father. They always
> reassured us everything was going to be alright - always laughing. My
> memories are those of a child. Our parents always made everything not
> that important, we never understood the danger that was about us -
> and it was!
> 1945
> At last the war was over. Church bells were ringing out loud.
> Everyone was shouting and dancing. My friends and I made a bonfire.
> We kept it going for a week. Our mums made cakes and jelly and
> custard - what a treat! My friend's father came home on leave from
> the war - he was a sailor. We were all sat round the bonfire, when
> this sailor with a large bag on his back walked behind my friend and
> put his hands over her eyes.
> When she looked round, she shouted: "It's my Daddy!"
> All of us were crying. I will never forget the war and pray it will
> never happen again.
> P Stables