I was seven when war was declared in September 1939. I was the youngest in the family.
There was: Mum; Dad; Arthur, who was 19; Kendall, who was 9 and myself, Sheila.
We lived in Stoneycroft. I remember Arthur receiving his call-up papers and going away. He was in the Royal Engineers. Dad had been in the Royal Garrison Artillery in WW1. Now, in WW2, he used to go fire watching during the air raids. He was the Commissionaire at Owen Owen’s store, in Liverpool, during the day.
Arthur was at Dunkirk and it was a very worrying time, as we had not heard from him. We only heard, in the news, about the big evacuation from there. Then, about a week later we received a small blue envelope with ‘five pence to pay” circled on it. It was from Arthur. He was in Folkestone. He had been brought back from Dunkirk in one of the ships in the small armada and he was safe. He arrived home shortly afterwards, before being posted to Scotland. He was stationed on the Isle of Islay and then at Falkirk, before going out to Italy and Sicily with the Eighth Army. He was with them for all the campaign until the end of the war.
During this time Ken, my other brother, was collecting shrapnel on his way to school in Lister Drive. After school he would go round on his bike looking at where the bombs had landed. It was decided, at this time, that he would go to Mum’s old home, where she had been born: Bleak House, Swaledale, in Yorkshire. Mum’s sister and her family lived on the farm and Ken stayed there until the end of the war.
I stayed at home and had my bed under the stairs and this was where I spent my time during the May Blitz. Many children had been evacuated and schools had been closed and so we had ‘home-teaching’, but only for a short time. We had teachers and children gathering at various houses. The schools soon opened, though, and I went to Corinthian Avenue Primary School. During the daytime air raids, when the siren sounded, we walked to the air-raid shelters and there we stayed until the ‘all clear’ sounded.
Mum joined the W.V.S. before it was ‘Royal’. One of the many jobs she did was running a National Savings group. She did house to house collections every week selling savings stamps and certificates. She carried on after the war ended. I still have her badges for 25 years service, and others. There were ‘Salute the Soldier’, ‘Salute the Sailor’ and ‘Salute the Airman’ weeks. At the start of the war Mum queued for vegetables but she decided she was going to do something about it and she rented two allotments and grew our own vegetables. ‘Dig for Victory’ it was called. As a farmer’s daughter she was used to the land. A lot of seeds came from America. She kept the allotments until the 1950s, then the land, known as Deepfield, was taken for building. It was situated between Inigo Road and Queens Drive, Stoneycroft.