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As the Wartime Memories Project is proving so popular with school children and older students of the time, this area has been set up to submit general questions and answers which hopefully will be helpful to their studies.
Please note that the replies submitted are the opinions of people who lived through the war years. All comments should be taken in a historical context.
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If you experienced World War Two, in any part of the world and any side of the conflict. Please answer any of the questions you can. Please fill in your responses in the form provided. replies will be added with-in a few days.
Please respect this facility as an educational service.
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Please read through the questions below to see if your question has already been asked before submitting it.
Questions which have been submitted by young visitors, but not yet answered:
If you can answer any of the questions below please use the form provided.
What tools did you use to build an Anderson Shelter?
Did you learn much in school during World War Two?
During evacuation could two children from diifferent families stay with the same family?
What kind of entertainment was there?
What did the soilders eat and where did they sleep during the war?
Did an evacuee have regulation size suitcases? If so, how big were they, and what were they made of?
How did the parents cope with being apart from their children?
Did women enjoy the independance given to them when the men went away to war?
How were the disabled treated on a day to day basis within the institutions in World War II?
What was the general feeling of the public on war recruitment in Britain in WW2?
How was sport affected during World War 2?
How did Ameican troops affect Portland and Weymouth
Who was better off those who were evacuated or those that stayed?
what kinds of first aid were taught during world war 2
How did you create a black-out?
What did people do for fun while in the army during WWII
What was it like after returning home from WW2 in regards to jobs and family relationships?
what were the punishments for breaking the blackout laws?
How did the civilians feel when they first heard that Britian was going to war?
What could the children take in their suitcases when being evacuated?
What scarifices did women have to make in the home during the war?
What age range were the children being evacuated?
What hairstyles did people have in the second world war?
what happened to German children in World War 2?
What did women do in the Land Army?
How was sport affected by the war?
What effect did the Americans coming to East Anglia have on the local community?
Did you have to pay to be evacuated?
How did world war two affect the leisure activities of people in the wartime?
What kind of technological advances were made during the war?
What was food like for german children during world war 2?
what was school like for children in germany during world war two
What did people feel like when they had to sit in shelters, not being able to see what was going on outside?
What was it like when your parents told you that you would have to go away without them?
How did the war affect your relationship with the rest of your family?
What were the times of school, for most children between the ages of 7 and 14 years, during the second world war?
In what ways were the lives of people in South Wales affected by the Second World War?
Was it hard to for servicemen to re-introduce themselves to normal life after the brutality of the war?
What hairstyles did women have in WW2
What price was rationed butter during World War 2?
What was it like for a host to try and support an evacuee whilst still trying to provide for their children if they had any?
What did ration books look like and what food was rationed in them?
How did the school system cope with the effects of war and did the war change anything about school?
What was the Ministry of Food?
What were the reactions of the public,press, and government in Britain to the evacuation at dunkirk?
How old did you have to be to fight in the war?
Did doctors get more gas ration stamps than other people because they had to visit people's houses?
What did it feel like to receive an evacuee?
What the reactions there were from people in Britain to the start of the war?
What was a bombadiers job and how big was their part in World war Two?
What happened every night as a precaution in case of an air raid during the blitz,london ?
What was life like for the soldiers who returned from war? How were they treated? What about finding jobs and dealing with injuries?
What was your favorite game you played in WW2, and what were the rules?
Where did you live if your house was bombed?
How old were most of the men who fought in WW2
If you were evcuated to with you brother or sister could you still be put together?
What were kitchens like in world war two
How many different types of gas masks were there?
What kind of hairstyles did thay have in WW2?
What did people have for christmas dinner during the war?
What do food rationing coupons look like during WW2 in the U.S.?
how did ww2 affect what women wore, how did it affect fashion?
who paid for the children that went on overseas evacuation, the government or the parents?
Could I have some information on how evacuees live as billeted?
What other things besides clothes, food and petrol were rationed?
What did the children think of being evacuated?
What other items besides food were rationed?
How do you use dried egg?
How did children of world war two feel when they lost a family member?
What items were taken into an Anderson shelter?
What was it like to get married while the war was going on? p
What was the longest time you were in the Air Raid Shelter
What were parents reactions to the evacuation of children in WW2?
What hairstyles did boys of the age of 10 used to have during world war 2?
What States used Blackout Shades during the war and for how long?
What sort of toys did children play with during this period?
What Food Had To Be Planted In Allotments?
What kind of weapons did the British Army use?
What rules were there in the blackout ?
What was the journey like when you were evacuated and what did you do on the journey?
What happened when you returned back to the city after being evacuated?
In what other ways did ordinary people support the war effort?
Who helped the public during the blitz in London?
Did people walk everywhere in WW2?
How was the evacuation of children organised?
What was the black market like during world war two
How long did the batteries last in the submarines while under water?
What were children allowed to take with them when being evacuated in World War Two?
How much time did you spend in school talking about the war?
How did the war affect your family life? Did any members of your immediate family go overseas?
How did people manage allotments during ww2 ?
What whould happen if the Airaid Patrol Wardens saw a piece of light?
Does anyone know examples of the fines that were applied to people who broke blackout rules during WW2?
How was the life of japanese americans after they reentered the world outside of the internments?
What did women wear to go to dances in the evening?
How were people treated who did not support WW2 ?
How did you travel around during the war. Who recieved petrol? How was it used ? Who were allowed on the trains ? How often ? Were there many buses?
What was it like during World War 2 for the families at home with a family member over seas?
When did sweet rationing stop in WW2?
Were gas masks heavy to carry?
How did the famlies who recieved evacuees feel?
what were your feelings about the posters that told you to dig for victory and be like dad keep mum? Did anyone listen and take notice of war time posters?
What happened to the people how survived the bombing of thier homes?
How were ration books used?
I would like to know what is was like during the war; how it affected peoples lives, and the way they lived?
What did the government tell children to take with them when they were evacuated in world war II
What happened to football in the war, was it still played?
What were children advised to do in the event of an invasion?
What vegatables were grown in the 1940's Dig for Victory
How many years was Hitler in power? How many times was he elected? What kind of education/upbringing did he have?
How did the school system cope with the effects of war and did the war change anything about school?
How many under aged fighters were there?
What did children take into anderson shelters in world war 2
What did women wear during the war? p>how did gas masks affect your life?
Are there any children who made an impact in the war?
What hairstyles did women in the WAF have?
What was life like living in Malaya or South East Asia during the war?
What did you have to do during the blackout?
How did women dress during world war two?
How did people protect their families from the bombing?
what did you read about in the paper when war was declared?
What were Germany's weaknesses that led to their defeat in the Second World War?
For how long were most children evacuated and did your parents know where you were going?
What types of toys were popular during the World War 2 time period?
What were the prices of clothing in world war two for clothing and food?
What was the evacuation process like. What happened between the time you left, to the time you reached the place to got evacuated to
What type of clothing, hair styles and shoes did women have during ww2
How did the children cope without their parents and home comforts
What did the radios that ordinary people had in their houses look like?
Submit your answer to one of the questions
Questions to which answers have been submitted
What would children aged 8 to 10 have to wear for school?
Girls wore a skirt, a blouse, long socks, a cardigan, and wore their hair in plaits. Boys wore short trousers, a shirt(cotton), long socks, a hat and their hair flat. if you were an evacuee you would have to wear your name tags, and everybody had to carry a gas mask.
What type of clothing was worn during W.W.2?
Clothing was Rationed, you had a number of Coupons which could be exchanged for shoes or clothes.As most people had some old/new clothes to start with it was mainly for replacement of wornout or outgrown items.The family with 2 or more Children it was a matter of "Hand-me-down" with each item darned and mended many times to eke out the Ration. There was not sufficient for a NEW outfit so Fashion became a thing of the past. All clothing was designed to a Utility Standard which cut out all unnessary frills.
J. L. Westcott
Why did US servicemen use cigarettes as money?
As a prisoner of war from Sept,15th 1944 untill Apr,12 1945 We had nothing of value. On occasion we would get a Red Cross package. It had some food but we would usually have to divide the small package with others. There were a few small packages of cigarettes in each package.Food was scarce and many prisoners would trade cigarettes for food. There was also a bar of soap and a package of tea. I worked in Munick every day, filling in bomb craters, and sometimea the guards would let us trade these items for a loaf of bread. Many times other guards would search us as we entered the prison camp and take the bread away from us which we tried to hide under our shirts. Cigarettes were still the #1 rate of exchange.
Clifford T. Moseley
What was school like during WW2
Air Raid shelters were built in our playing fields and we had alternate morning and afternoon as there were not many Teachers, most had been called up to serve their Country. I suppose we learnt a reasonable amount spent most of the time in the shelters, sitting on wooden slated forms, there were low wattage lights and parrafin heaters in there. The biggest problem was the rain getting down the shelters, then we all had to have lessons in the corridors, as it was assumed we could get out quicker in an emergency. Take a look at my website http://www.eastcotelane.com this includes a history of the School right through the war years.
School life was more strict then, we sat in rows of desks, if someone entered the door behind us, we were not allowed to turn our heads to see who it was. If we were bad we were caned on the hand which really hurt, we had school dinners, with potatos, greens, corned beef. We grew vegetables in the school gardens, when the air raid sirens sounded, we lined up and were marched lnto the shelter, in our case, the pub cellar, which was next to the school, all the boys collected shrapnel, which came from exploded bombs, and other other wreckage.We had pens with nibs, and ink wells set into our desks. The home guard did their training in our sports field. One night a land mine was dropped and demolished a row of houses, we would play in the ruins. Ileft school when i was fourteen and went straight to work, I had to cycle seven miles to work, and seven miles back, monday to saturday, I could not afford a bike my dad gave me his, an eighteen inch wheel heavy, with a back pedal brake.
It was much stricter than school today. We got beaten by the teachers if we did anything wrong. There was only 1 school for all the children in the village and we were all different ages so the older ones learnt the same things over and over. There were outside toilets and both boys and girls had to share. We had to play with stones and sticks instead of balls and rackets. The yard where we played was very small for 15 children we couldn't run around much. we had to have head lice checks and everybody hated it. We didn't have fire practices we had bomb and gas drills. If the air raid siren went off we had to go under the table and put our masks on or if we had time we could run to the village air raid shelter, but we risked being bombed and gased.
What was life like in America?
I was born four months before Pearl and was five when the war ended. I am American and this is what I remember. We grew potatoes in a victory garden. I remember the blue and red ration coins. Also the gasoline ration stamps. My father did not serve as a soldier because he worked at United States Steel corporation and they would not release him to serve. Mom and the next door neighbor knit socks and sweaters for the Red Cross. Sugar and food were rationed. Nylon or silk was non existant because it went for parachuts. We traveled mostly on public transportation but because my father was employed at US Steel he was given gasoline thru the rationing process. About just enough to get to work everyday. Not too much for pleasure if any. We spoke of the war everyday because my cousin was fighting in Europe (he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge) while the next door neighbors two sons were in the war too. One in the South Pacific and the other in Europe The neighbor across the street had a son killed flying the hump in Burma. How did it effect the home life. Mom took care of children when women went to work at the steel mills. It all seemed pretty normal for most of us because we did not know any differently. Children made things to send to the troops and delivered them to the Red Cross. Women's hairstyles were a lot different than they are today. All you need to do is look at the pictures from that time. I do remember that when the war ended in Europe my mother was baking a cherry pie from the tree in our back yard. She picked me up and swung me around. Meat and sugar were hard to come by. I remember the knitting sessions when the women knit socks and sweaters. I remember walking everywhere...no jumping in a car. I remember the public transportation. I remember the neighbors getting together all the time to send things to the troops. I remember the Navy was located at Chicago Vocational High School in Chicago and we could see them learning to work on planes. I remember having the service men located there over for dinner all the time. I remember that my father never passed up a service man who was walking. He always gave them a lift. I remember having soldiers staying at the house who were being sent overseas. Mom and Dad volunteered for this. I remember watching another cousin leaving for the Navy. Mom took him and my aunt, his mother to the train station. I remember him walking away with his bag over his shoulder in his Navy Blues. I remember many things, such as it was a less self involved time. People were concerned about the soldiers overseas. We sacrificed food and certain materials so that they could be sent overseas. I remember sending food to England.
Barbara Corsaw Hausler
What did wardens do at the home front?.
Wardens made sure there was not any light coming from the houses, even the tiniest amount could result in a fine. They also blew their whistles very loudly when the sirens were sounded just to make sure everyone knew there was an air-raid. The wardens were mostly men and they allotted different duties to different households, some had a stirrup-pump at the ready with a bucket of water and other homes were qualified First-Aid people.
Mavis Jean Howarth
What was school life like during ww2?
School was held in the home of a lady whose daughter was of my age (6 or ) and we had a couple of mornings a week but still learnt to read ,write, also history, maths, and geography.But unfortunatly I didn't pass the 11+
What one thing - a phrase, picture, activity - most often comes to mind when you think of those years?
D-Day, 6th June 1944. My older brother shook me awake to point out of the window at the sky. There was hardly a space to be seen between the heavy bomber aircraft towing gliders as large as themselves. The heavy drone was deafening, and we sat awed at the sight knowing something big was happening. It went on for some time as wave after wave of bombers and gliders passed overhead.
Whats the difference between a morrison shelter and a anderson shelter?
Anderson shelters were built outside in the garden and made of corrugated iron. Ours had enough room for four bunk beds, two one side and two the other and was very useful after the raids had finished a a garden shed. The Morrison shelter was a steel cage with steel top that would just take a matress inside. Generally kept in the dinning room, it would double up as a table for eating off, the family climbing in at night to sleep after fitting the steel mesh side.
Did rationing affect your life greatly?
I do not remember sweets during the war, but I do remember the first day rationing finished and I ran around to the shop to find they were sold out. Almost instantly. It was a week after that I managed to get my first sweet. Photo's I have of my mother show her prior to the war years and during. She was as thin as a rake during the war with sunken cheeks were she had sacrificed her own rations to make sure her children ate enough. Orange juice and codliver oil were free to families with children to ensure they got the vitimines. I still shiver when remembering the taste of the codliver oil.
How were Communications different in WW2?
There was no Satelites. All Radio Communication was by Short Wave Radio, this was intermittent due to the Atmospheric Conditions during the day, there were tables giving the frequency most succesfull at certain times and Months but there was a lot of Hit & Miss. Telephones could only be used if calling in your own Country as most long distant cables were easily tapped into by the enemy.Very little Air-mail as there was no Air-lines operating intercontinentally so apart from Military 'planes Sea-mail was the norm which could take weeks or months
Were potatoes rationed or grown in gardens?
potatoes were one of the foods that britain had plenty of so people were encouraged to grow them in their gardens and they were not rationed.
What did the Home Guard do?
My dad served in the Home Guard in 1940, he was trained to use a rifle, and also trained in unarmed combat, I remember watching them, in the school field, It took some time before they got their uniforms, they were issued with five live rounds each of .303 ammunition, which were used under strict supervision. I remember they used the cricket pavillion for their Headquarters.
What kind of gear did soldiers have during world war two. ie rations, weapons etc?
The main weapon was the .303 inch Lee Enfield Rifle. Bolt action with about a 8 round magazine. the Bren Light machine gun was supplied as an extra weapon firing .303 ammunition.The Sten gun was a close range Machine gun very light and with it's short barrel usefull in Street fighting.It fired a 9mm. bullet. Officers and Drivers, Tank crew etc. were also issued with a Webly or Smith & Wessen Revolver.Special Troops had Tommy Guns, Bazooka Rocket Launchers, Piat Launchers, Heavy Machine guns.
What did wardens do at the home front?
My father was an air raid warden. He had served in the army, in the Middle East in WW.1. During the day he worked in the NAAFI offices at Brixton. We lived in Thornton Heath and our area was heavily bombed, both in the Blitz during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and during the V1 and V2 raids in 1944-5. Dad, in his dark blue warden's uniform, would go out at night to check that no lights were showing from house windows, especially if an air raid was due. When the sirens sounded my mother, grandmother and I would go either in the cupboad under the stairs, which was always considered the safest place within a house, or down the bottom of the garden to the Anderson shelter. Dad would be out and no doubt Mum and Granny would be very worried about his safety but they kept this from me and always assured me he was alright. The wardens had a post where they could shelter but of course they also had to be out and about at times during a raid. One night a number of houses in our road received a direct hit and when I came down to breakfast all around our big old kitchen table (we also had a scullery, that's what we called it, but it was where all the cooking and washing was done)were people who had been bombed out of their homes whom Dad had brought back. I really don't know if Mum fed them, I was very young, just three, but I remember the event clearly. Perhaps special rations were provided for such occasions. There was always coffee and chicory for breakfast, I hated the taste, but no doubt they had a drink of this. We always had porridge too. There was a rather tatty wicker-work chair in one corner of the kitchen covered with an old blanket. One of the people from the bombed out houses went to sit in it and I called out, 'That's the dog's chair,' which it was but after what they had been through I don't suppose they would have minded. Our dog was called Trix. Eventually our house, too, was bombed, but not destroyed, and Mum, Granny and I went to stay with my aunt deep in the country in Shropshire. Dad stayed behind to carry on working and do his warden duties. One morning Trix was hit by a farmer's car and killed. I was heartbroken. My Uncle laid her beside the garden path, there wasn't a mark on her. Mum said the wheel just bumped her, she looked up and died. I sat stroking her, I just couldn't believe she was dead. Despite all the raids I had never experienced death at first hand before.
Michael H C Baker
Were potatoes rationed or grown in gardens?
Everyone who had a garden was urged to "dig for victory" .The only way that vegetables were rationed was by availability ie, very few fresh vegetables were to be had in the winter,so people would preserve there home grown produce during summer months but people who had no garden had to make do with anything they could get usually tinned peas or carrots
Were wartime shops very different from shops today?
Shops were nothing like today's shops, there was hardly anything on display on counters or windows and anything that was on display was usualy made of cardboard or wood . Sweets were stictly rationed and not much to choose from when coupons were available. Clothes were rationed and clothing coupons like gold dust.serving personelwere not allowed to have clothing coupons. The only kind of fruit available was home grown so in winter none was to be seen, cigarettes although not officialy rationed were what was known at that time as "under the counter" and always kept for "regular" customers by the shopkeeper. Shop windows were blanked out to avoid flying glass during air raids but usually with witty comments in place of goods. Unfortunately as the war dragged on the comments seemed less witty.
What did kids do for fun in WWII?
The most fun was going out in the streets after an air raid and looking for pieces of shrapnel. They could either be parts of a German bomb or anti-aircraft shells. My prize possession was a fragment with gears and other mysterious mechanisms I found on our lawn one morning. I thought it might explode, but our next-door neighbour, who worked in a munitions factory, examined it carefully and told me it was British and safe. My tin full of this debris remained at my parents' home until my father died in 1981.
Who and what were the bevin boys?
Most of the Heat Energy in the 1st. part of the 20th. Century was provided by coal. During the War the Coal Miners were exempt from Military service, but more Miners were needed. A politician( Mr. Bevin) worked out a scheme that allocated a certain number of Coal Miner positions to all young men of 18 or more to be drafted,(instead of Military Sevice) these were picked by a Lottery System - if your name came up you had to serve in the Mines - it was a dirty job and not popular but at least you could spend Holidays at home and many learned a Trade.
ErnestBevinM.P. made it compulsory for many young men to be sent into the coal mines. There was no choice,it was a call up just like the services, and most hated it.
what were your thoughts of Japanese-Americans being placed in internments camps in the states during the war years?
At the time, I felt that "the government" was right in interning them. There was a lot of animosity toward anything Japanese, following the Pearl Harbor attack. I was impressionable at 13 to believe that "the government" knew best.
Charles Cowell, Jr.
What was going through your mind leading up to joining the forces?
I was just 18 when I was "Called up", as it was the first time I would be away from Home for a long time I was quite troubled. The war had reached a stage where the Allies had to finish off the Germans. The Italians had surrendered and the Soviet Union was advancing towards Germany so to help in the fight both Britain and America had to Invade France and begin to drive back the German Army. This meant that within a few months I may be in the thick of things. I spent my first 6 Weeks in the Warickshire Regiment learning to use the Weapons available at that time, during this period you were subject to Tests to check your ability to serve in various sections ie:- Artillery, Tanks, Signals etc.You were also given all the Innoculations needed to prevent you from contracting fatal diseases. As I had Communications experience I was Drafted into The Royal Signals Regiment.It was early June 1944 and on our first day of Tuition (6 June) we heard that we had invaded France. It was a relief in a way as I knew that I had 6 Months before I would be sent to a serving unit.
When I thought about joining up I wanted to do my bit to help all the boys abroad who were making much greater sacrifices than we at home were making .My biggest concern was that the war would be over before I got my call up.
What was it like for the families receiving evacuees?
I remember when we had an evacuee sataying with us. My mum and my two other sisters and Dad (who was at war) lived in the country side and one day early in the morning my Mum came and woke me up and told me that we were having some people come and stay with us and that we were NOT to talk about the war when they were around. The next day my mum introuduced me to a girl about the same age as my older sister(15) her name was Gwendiline and she was very pretty. I remember for the first few weeks of living with us she cried a lot and at the stangest time, once we were having dinner and mum said grace she also said that we should pray for Dad and Gwen broke down. I guess that it was a lot harder for the evacuees then it was for us, although the war was going on we continued to live relitivly normally, Gwen on the other hand must have had a very disrupted life. I am rather sad that when she left she never kept in contact with us (not that I really expected her to but it would have been nice) I guess being away from her mother and then seeing my mother must have been terrible she did although grow very close to our mother and somethimes I couldn't help but feel a little bit anoyed that Mum would pay special attention to her, but now I understand. Anyway I guess I have gotten off the track, all up I think that we did have a fun time with Gwen (she was like another sister in our family) and she knew that we loved her and in a way she loved us, I like to think that we helped her throught the war and that in some ways she helped us.
What Precautions did you take every night?
First you made sure the Shelter (usually at the end of the garden) was safe to enter. Bailing-out the groundwater in the winter,we used Nightlight or Tealights for lighting, so you made sure there was a good supply.You always had warm coats,hats and Snacks available.Not many Shelters in Gardens had cooking facilities so you kept a Kettle of water ready to boil on the stove ready to boil when needed.Checked all Black-out curtains were drawn well before dark (you could see if any chinks of light showed in light would show out) repairing any that became faulty.
Were wartime shops very different from shops today?
The shops during the war were a lot different. Lots of shops were shut down so there were very few. some people had to travel for ages just to grab a loaf of bread. As you probarly know, lots of food was rationed so you could only buy a limited amount of food and drink. The shops in our time now are a lot bigger. There wasn't a supermarket in WW2. Just think about your local corner shop. Every shop during WW2 was like that.
Where were you evacuated to?
I have spoken to my nan she tells me loads of stories about the war she luckily was evacuated to the countryside with her Mum and Brother, her Dad had to stay home to work which was good. None of her family died and she had quite a bit of money so she was never hungry and had food. Her mother gave all spare food and clothes to the starving and poor. Its really interesting and her memories are very good and she was happy during the war.
You were evacuated to different types of homes with different types of people. If you were evacuated from the city, you would go to the country side of a small town. You could live in a street house, a mansion or farm.
Why did Hitler go after the Jews?
Hitler went after Jews because there was so many Jews, he feared that they would try to take over the world.
How did the war effect the women?
There was rationing on sugar,nylon stockings, and general shortages of many household and personal items. I remember we could not always get shampoo. We shared our ration coupons with my grandparents because there were 5 of us in our family. We had certain times we had to pull all the window shades in the house, maybe turn off the lights also as part of Civil Defence drills. My dad was too old to go into the service but he had a government job so I believe he was 4-A-H. We bought savings stamps at school and savings bonds to help the war effort. Scrap metal and rubber was collected during this time. I remember our tricycle was donated as we had outgrown it by now. My dad and I collected milk weed pods, the silk was used as filler in life jackets I believe.
Were buildings of local industry, towers and gas holders painted in camouflage colours?
Ordinary buildings were not camouflaged, but factories were. In Banbury in Oxfordshire a dummy factory was built to attract any bombing that might happen away from the actual works.
Did you participate in a scrap drive?
Would you believe that the Council put big dustbins in our streets? These were for food scraps, they were taken away and fed to pigs. We were told not to include rhubarb leaves as these are poisonous. Boy did they stink in the sun!!!
What were you doing on December 7, 1941 when you heard the news of Pearl Harbor?
I was on my way to join the Netherlands Army in England, then training in Canada as Air Gunner, which eventually led to serving in 320 Squadron where I completed 81 operational trips. A fantastic squadron with lovely people.
What was it like if your father was away in the forces?
We were young and had a wonderful mother, who took good care of us. The londoners came one night, some stayed at our house I was upset and cried for them, with a small bag and no parents. I will never forget that night. We lived in Somerset close to Westlands Aircraft factory, the germans were always trying to bomb us but the factory was tucked under a long hill, Dad finaly came home Christmas eve 1939 cold and sick. When you are young you take it all in stride, he went back and our mother carried on.
Evelyn Pinkett Thompson
Because my mother worked at Short Brothers on the River Medway, my brother an myself spent our days in the gov. nurseries. My mother often found me standing in the corner because I had been naughty. I remember throwing food under the table and blaming my brother. At home my mother once bought half a sheep's head and cleaned its teeth before she cooked it, it was the only meat she could get as food was rationed and black market food was expensive. We ate powdered egg and I remember vividly having poultices put on sores on my legs that were caused by lack of vitamins in our food. I had a Mickey Mouse gas mask which I don't remember ever needing to wear. During the bombing -I lived at Chatham, Kent Mum made up a bed for us under the table as this was safer for us.
As a child of a Prisoner of War, I was invited to the town hall to chose a present donated by the children of the occupied countries. My brother had a name and address of a child in Belgium on the back of his xylophone and we communicated with him for some time. Sometimes we visited the POW camp at Walderslade, Chatham and received little gifts of carved toys from Italian POWs. One day a German plane came down very low over our house and landed in a field in front. When we got there the plane was surrounded by hundreds of children and the Germans who were escorted away looked young even to me, aged about 6/7.
What type of air raid shelters did you use and what was it like there during a raid?
Our family's air raid shelter was a large fuel oil tank let into the side of a bank with an emergency exit/air vent on top. There were boards across the tank to make a shelf for sitting/lying on. After the war the shelter made a good place to grow mushrooms!
I was nearly four years old when the WW2 was declared but I remember it very well. Because my father was in the AFS (auxcilary fire service) he was not called up. He did start to build an Anderson shelter in the back garden, but it never got finished. He did help to build a much bigger underground shelter, this was planed to hold about forty people. A weeks after completion this flooed with water to depth of about 2ft. Yet another failure. We where then issued with a Morrison indoor shelter. This was erected in the front room. This became my bed for the next couple of years, and also served as a dinning table when my Mum's relations where bombed out and came to live with us for a few weeks.
How important was SPAM in the allied forces survival?
A lot of food was imported during the war and as the ships that brought it were targeted by German U-boats and Warships most food was of a concentrated form. SPAM was one of these,very nutritious with no waste. It was good to eat too. Another food was Dried Egg, but as all Dried (processed) food was new you had to learn to use it, my Mother's first try ended up so tough you could have used it to sole your shoes. The secret was to keep it moving while cooking to make a scrambled egg type of dish. After that it was good to eat.
What did the air raid shelters look like from inside (what did they use inside)?
There were different types of Shelter e.g.Home Shelters, Public Shelters, Factory Shelters. Our Home one was an Anderson Shelter.It was built partly underground so was damp and musty. Made of curved Corrugated Iron, it looked like an archway, it was approximatly 4ft wide by 4ft 6inches long for a 4 person shelter to 6ft long for a 6person shelter, you took down old chairs to sit on facing one another. It was covered in earth (2-3 Feet or more) which made it Blastproof. Public sheters were either right underground or brick on top, usually built in a spare plot of land or a side road. The roof was of thick Concrete. Any of these Shelters were NOT bomb-proof, if you had a direct hit from a bomb you were lucky to survive.
There were basically three different types of purpose built air raid shelters The Morrison shelter which was just a Steel table and was erected indoors, the Anderson shelter which was made of corrugated iron and was set down into the ground and covered with earth, I think the best description would be to think of a short tunnel with a small entrance at one end and the other end blocked off. In ours we had 4 bunks 2 on each side, duck boards on the floor and a container of drinking water an oil stove a hurricane oil lamp and a shelf where there was a torch, spare batteries and where we at first kept our gas-masks. With 2 adults and 2 children there was not room for much else, and the shelters always smelt of damp earth. The third type was the surface shelter which as its name states was built on the surface out of bricks and reinforced concrete, they were long buildings with wooden benches along each side not a lot to look at,and they always smelt unpleasant, we have since learnt that they looked a lot safer than they were
Did you do anything special to keep track of the war news, like keeping a scrapbook or diary?
A diary as such no - but most houses had War Maps and kept them up to date with military movements and battles, as well as that the Stationary Office sold many leaflets and small booklets telling us what happened - I still have many of these and often read them -I have a post war map issued by the Daily Telegraph showing the bounderies at various times through the war.
How did you learn about what was happening in the war overseas?
We listened nightly at 9pm to the BBC news on the wireless, we read the newspapers which were rationed to four pages only, and watched the news reels at the cinemas.
Kath O'Sullivan nee Margerison
The BBC broadcast regular NEWS Bulitins which included all areas of conflict, although controlled by Censors, it was probably only 2-3 days old. There were problems with enemy broadcast pretending to be BBC and telling biased news of certain subjects. The BBC countered this by ensuring Newsreaders gave their names and had easily recognisable accents. There were also broadcasts from Germany and Japan designed to upset the forces in battle by mocking their efforts and hoping that the English Broadcasters would give away secrets. i.e.Lord Haw-Haw. "Where is the Ark Royal?" when the Aircraft Carrier Ark Royal was partly disabled.
What did most women do when their husbands were at war?
The women, took over most of the jobs that the man had in Britian and America and did everything that the men used to do, some even got involved in the war. Women weren't allowed to fight in combat but there was a women, who inlisted, and also many served as nurses to the wounded.
What were you doing when you hear that the atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan and that war was over? How old were you?
I was in the British Army and was near Bombay in India waiting to invade Malaya. We didn't have good radio reception, but we heard that a Gigantic bomb had been dropped on Japan. Later we heard that the Allies had demanded that Japan surrender within 24 hours or another would be dropped. This happened and Japan did surrender. Later we heard of the Atom Bomb, we were glad that we didn't have to fight any more, as the Japanese fought hard and wouldn't easily surrender this caused 1000's of casualties needlessly. I was 19 at the time, we sailed to Malaya after 2 weeks to accept Japans' Surrender.
I have a lot of memory loss as I was in a shell blast that killed my three mates but I was lucky as I was only caught in the blast and had bad concussion, after six weeks in hospital I was regraded and posted too the RASC as a driver and was waiting to go with other chaps to the Far East we had the yellow fever injections and were just waiting orders when we were informed that the second bomb had been dropped and we were stood down and were to remain in Italy. I was in the London Irish Rifles having been transfered from The East Surrey Regt who I had been with since 1940.
What was it like to be evacuated?
I was sent to a small village 36 miles from home when I was almost 8 years old. At first it was a great adventure but as winter came and the days grew colder I found myself being used as an unpaid gardener,weeding the path at the side of the house with a worn out dinner knife.I suffered chilblains and even today I cannot stand the cold.In summer we would be sent to pick potatoes and dig deep rooted dockon weeds out of the fields.For picking potatoes I was paid £2 a week though I never saw it.I was told it was to buy Savings certificates to help buy Spitfires.I never saw the savings either. Unfortunately children at that time had little to compare their lives with and we wouldn't see any reason for complaining to our parents.We would expect to be disbelieved anyway. After 21 months I was returned home when my mother found that the only thing I'd learned whilst away was how to knit a pair of gloves.She never did find out how badly I had been treated and I never discovered what might have happened had I told her. But the summer days that we could get away from the house in which we stayed were truly magical.We would swim in the lake or we would walk along the main road to watch bombers taking off for the nightly raids on Germany. If we walked in a different direction we could see fighters being scrambled to chase away enemy bombers intent upon destroying our own homes. Perhaps the one thing that has lived most vividly in my memory of that period is the knowledge that my young friend and neighbour was killed by machine gun fire during a raid as he was walking home to lunch.If I had not been evacuated I may well have been killed with him.So there are worse things than being cold and suffering chiblains....
What sort of jobs did women have during World War 2?
Women worked in Munitions Factory, they took over from the Men , there was evven Women who delivered coal, they did any job, driving Trams anything, Home Guard they used to guard bridges,they used to look after the safety of the civilians they would go on guard after a days work parade every weekend.
Where did you live during World War 2?
I lived in SE.London/NE.Kent-flight path of the German bombers and later the buzz bombs. During the blitz of 1940 the family slept in the Anderson air raid shelter. For the remainder of the war we slept in the house on the floor, adjacent to the strong divider wall of our semi detached house.
What was school like for children during the second world war, and how did it differ from normal school life?
I was nine years old at the start of the war. I went to School in a small Village in Hertfordshire, we had wooden pens with nibs which we used as darts, by throwing them at the wooden ceiling beams, we sat in rows of desks with lift up lids and ink wells, the teachers were strict and if anyone entered the door behind us we were not allowed to turn our heads. We got caned if we were naughty which made our hands sting, I remember going to the farm to fetch the School milk, a third of a pint each, the school had allotments where we grew Vegetables, we collected money for the war effort, one of our Pupils was very good at Drawing and designed a large picture of a Spitfire climbing to engage an enemy bomber, the Spitfire was in a slot cut-out and long the length of the slot sums of money were printed. When the Sirens sounded, we lined up and marched to the shelter which was a cellar in our local pub. All the boys wore short trousers until they were fourteen. I left School at Fourteen and went to work, I took a seven years Apprenticeship.
Did people have to wear gas masks every day?
No we didn't, however we had to carry them everywhere we went in the early years of the war but later we tended to leave them at home, I suppose now with hindsight,it was when the danger of a gas attack had gone. I can remember being in the ARP post having one fitted. One of my younger sisters not knowing any better, made holes all over hers with a pin! The Warden was very angry! My youngest sister who was just a baby had what we called a 'Micky Mouse' type of mask because of the shape, the baby would be placed inside it.
What toys and games did you play with during the war?I was 9 years old when the war started. I had a tin railway engine which I wound up, also a battery operated toy car with working headlights, we played conkers, marbles, cigarette cards, I used to build crystal sets with a home made coil and a piece of rock crystal, in those days we could receive the home service, and light programmes only. I kept a rabbit and a jackdaw, and I used to watch my Dad training in the home guard.
In what way were women's roles seen as less important than the men's during the war?
It is unfair to say anyone who was in the war had less contribution than any other. They may have been unable to contribute as much as say:-A Bomber Pilot,a Submarine Commander, but in their own way each Man Woman or Child helped in the War Effort.In most cases women served in a passive role, as a housewife and Mother, but in that way they had to put up with as many trials as a serving person.Women worked alongside men in factories, on the land,in the Civil Defence organisations (a Bomb cannot tell the difference between a man and a woman) all branches of the Armed Forces etc.They did hard and dirty work in primative conditions such as on the Land,Hauling down an unrully Barage Balloon in all winds and weathers.Some were killed on duty alongside men in doing their duty.
I don't know how you got that idea! Without the women doing jobs previously done by men this country (UK) would not have survived in my opinion. They were able to continue this countries war production,building tanks,aircraft,munitions etc, keep the public transport moving, nursing..well you name it..women did it with the possible exception of coal mines due to the formation of The Bevin Boys. Then of course some had families, so after a days work they couldn't go home and put their feet up..it was more work this time domestic!
What did A.R.P wardens really have to do?
ARP Wardens were found everywhere, in small villages and big cities. They supplemented the local police forces to a large extent and they were either older men and women or those who were unfit for the armed services. Wardens' Posts were heavily protected by sandbags and concrete and were manned 24 hrs a day. They had phones and radios, first aid supplies and were the centre of communications for individual streets, or neighbourhoods. They patrolled their areas whenever a raid was in progress and kept watch for fires, bomb-hits, accidents caused by the total darkness. They kept watch for chinks of light coming from houses and took steps to have them covered up. Some Posts has volunteer teenagers with bikes who could run errands and take messages to other posts, police and fire stations etc.
The Wardens were very often the first on the scene of a bomb blast, or the landing of the small incendiary bombs that started dangerous fires. Many wardens entered bombed buildings even before the fire engines and rescue squads arrived on the scene. Many ARP Wardens lost their lives in rescue attempts and many of them did indeed rescue dozens of people trapped under debris. The Wardens played a vital role during the many air raids that were launched all over the British Isles. They gave their services free, and some even gave their lives.
How did the people wash themselves and their clothes during the war ?
We did have baths then believe it or not!however there was not the wide variety of toilet soaps available then so we had to use the large tablet of household soap, one I remember was 'Sunlight' it was a very hard soap but kept us clean. For washing my mum used a copper in the kitchen, this was a round metal container heated by electric and with a wooden top, she would boil up the water and in those days there were a variety of soap flakes....no detergents...I can recall Oxydol & Persil being used, in would go the dirty clothes..poked down with a wooden pole on would go the lid and she would let them boil, after the washing time was up out would come the steaming clothes into a tin bath, this would then be carried to the mangle outside in the garden and the clothes would be put through this to squeeze out the surplus water, us children would be used to turn the handle which could be hard work, the clothes would then be hung on the line to dry.
What did it feel like to be evacuated was it good or bad?
It was a very traumatic experience for children so young to be sent off without parents to be cared for by strangers, but after the initial shock we made new friends and generally enjoyed life without air raids!
Being evacuated was a wrench for all of us - most had never been away from their families before. What evacuation was like overall, depended upon where you were sent, whom you were billeted with and whether you were away from your brothers and sisters. A younger brother and I were sent together from London to Sussex. We first went to an old, fairly primitive farmworker's house, with an outside toilet with a cess pit. Luckily, we were taken back, and finally taken in by two spinster ladies, who had quite a fine house. Jimmy and I were there from September 1939 until some time in 1944, when we joined our Mother, another brother and a brand new sister, in Halifax, Yorkshire. We all stayed there until the War in Europe was over, in May 1945, when we returned to London. Jimmy and I had been very lucky to be placed where we were during most of the War - others were nowhere near as lucky.
How did food and gas rationing work?
As a lot of food (and all of the Gas) had to be imported from overseas they were strictly rationed because the Ships bringing them could be torpedoed by the enemy submarines.Each person had a Ration book with coupons which were cut out in the various shops as you bought your Ration so ensuring that each person could only get their share. Rationing was also used to control Chocolate, Sweets, Clothing even coal (which most houses relied on for winter heating). Bananas were not imported as they had to come from a long way.
What were blackout curtains , what were they made from and what did they do? Most blackout curtains were made from heavy, black, cotton material. Very often, the material was stretched on a wooden frame that was pushed into the window recess at night, between any other curtains and the window glass. The blackout curtains were meant to stop any light from being shown through the windows after dark - since enemy aircraft would be able to see lights clearly at night and would then know there was a building on that spot. If many lights were showing from houses or other buildings, then a village or part of a town could be identifiable.
Blackout Curtains were made out of Cotton and were used to prevent any Light escaping from a House at night.This was because enemy Bombers relied on finding their way by searching the country for signs of habitation. It was no use dropping bombs on open ground.Even Radio Transmitters were closed down as they could be used to navigate over enemy territory.My father made Shutters we put-up each night to Black-out the living-room. Also cars had to "mask" their headlight and Streetlamps were only fitted with a small Light-Bulb to cut down the light.
How strong are you memories of this period compared to other times in your life? How do you explain that?
As the War co-incided with my Adolescence I had a very good memory of these times, in a way the war years began as a tremendous adventure, we took the good times with the bad e.g. I was in the Scouts and when we thought Germany would Invade Great Britain we discussed getting a rifle and cycling to the Moors nearby and acting as Guerilla fighters. It never came to this but I'm sure we were serious in our intentions. We didn't fear the enemy, it seemed that we would never be Conquered and we would die fighting.
What were victory gardens, and did you have one?
AS Britain was dependant on a lot of imported food, to cut-down on Shipping space everyone was encoraged to grow as much fresh food as possible i.e.Potatoes,Cabbage,Beans etc.The grass in parks and other open spaces were dug up and "Allotments" were Allocated to each Household that applied. We had one and it worked fine,but as the men were called-up the wives & children had to do most of the digging etc, so sometimes the crops were neglected or harvested in a poor condition.
What do you remember most about the war?
My most vivid memory of WW2 was D.Day. I was 12 years old and because my Mother had been asked to look after a couple in their 60's, who, in her younger days, she had been in service with. I found myself staying in a Cottage tucked in the fold of the Hills, half a mile up a farmtrack near to the village of Warmwell in Dorset. On the eve of D.DAY my Mother had been asked to cook a special meal for two guests who turned out to be Senior Service Personel. Normally we dined with the family, but on this occassion we were excluded. After they had left we got the impression that something special was about to take place. Early in the morning of D.Day we looked up to see the sky full of Planes towing Gliders being joined by their Fighter Escort almost if the Cottage had been earmarked as their joining up point. At about 0900 the postman called and said if we wanted to witness a sight we would be unlikely ever to see again, we should climb the hill and look out to sea. This we did and saw both Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour overflowing with Landing Craft and all sorts of vessels. So much so that it was difficult to see any water. Later that same morning I went to help the farmer with the Hay Making and found at the Warmwell Crossroads Military police directing Amphibious and other Military Vehicles, American from the Swanage direction and British from the Dorchester direction alternately towards Weymouth. the Yanks were throwing us gum, Candies and occassionaly cigarettes as they passed the field we were working in. This traffic continued for a number of days. Later in the week I went with my mother in the farmer's car into Weymouth to get essential supplies. We had to produce an official Permit before we were allowed to enter the town and then we were forbidden to go anywhere near the harbour.
Jack A Turner
I remember most, the great feeling of friendship and willingness to help out, and never at anytime feeling that we were going to lose the war, even after Dunkirk.
Many of the diesel buses had a trailer attached. This contained gas. The buses ran on this gas to save diesel. They looked funny lumbering along with this funny attachment. People were friendly, on buses and trains they spoke to each other and were not snooty with strangers.
The sound of the air raid warning siren and then the all clear signal. The ARP (air raid precaution) volunteer yelling, "put out that light" if there was a chink in your blackout curtains. Wearing my gas mask to peel pickling onions for mum. It saved having tears in my eyes! The way we imported ship loads of tobacco for cigarettes. I learned afterwards that smoking stopped us feeling hungry when rations were short.
The Food Office where you went for food coupons. There was always a queue. Newspapers rationed to four pages.. I worked on a newspaper from 17-18 years of age. When the BBC hired news readers with regional accents... they feared that the Nazis may cut across their broadcasts and try to fool us with false news, by using men with regional accents they hoped the Nazis would be unable to fool us.
When the war ended did you find the return to "normal life" strange?
As I was born the day before the war started in Shephards Bush the war years was a normal part of life in my early years I remember not having my Dad around and having to continue carry the gas mask around during the day and spending the nights in an air raid shelter. My father was serving in the army and every person I saw in a uniform I thought he was my Dad. When the war was over it seemed strange to be able to walk around without the gas mask seeing all the people going about there daily chores ,playing with other kids even if it was in the bombed out houses finding bits of planes and starting school .When I did finally see my Dad in his uniform I ran away scared and then not feeling right sleeping in the house at night as we had been sleeping in the shelter for what seemed a life time, missing the sound of the air raid siren, waiting for it go off but it didn't, the nights were quiet and peaceful at last.
How different was news reporting during WW2 from today`s instant coverage?
There was the radio, BBC, with frequent news bulletins. There were newspapers, paper was rationed so they were only allowed four pages in total. At one point in the war the BBC used news readers with regional accents ( Wilfred Pickles spoke with a Yorkshire accent, Freddy Grisewood had a East Anglian accent I think) this was to try and prevent the Nazis coming in on the same wavelength and giving us false news. The newspapers had a 'wire room' where the news was received from a central source on a ticker tape machine. The actually print was set up on a machine which typed (impressed)letters on to lead. This lead was then set in columns by hand. These were inked and then the press printed the words on the newspaper. There were huge machines that pressed the words onto the paper. Much more labour intensive than today's email methods on the internet.
Why did we fight World War Two?
Adolf Hitler, was dictator of Germany. He wanted to create a superior race of humans. Hitler conquered Europe, to make along history short, Hitler started to kill Jewish people, exactly why, I don't know, but that's what brought it about.
The Jews he started to kill them and do terrible experiments on them. He even had lamp shades made of human skin, and that's not all, but thats that another story.
Short and sweet he wanted to conquer the world and kill off anyone that didn't fit his profile of a perfect human. Thats also includes deformities, handicapped or what ever. Lot of people died to stop this.
What was it like in an Anderson Shelter?
It was cold, damp, cramped and smelt of damp earth. The bunks were very uncomfortable, and if you were very unlucky you had to sleep on the floor between two sets of bunks. There were some sort of wooden slats on the floor to keep the bedding off the earth. As a result of sleeping in such appalling conditions I developed bronchial pneumonia. I went to bed a chubby 2 year old and when I recovered I had turned into a tall, very thin, 3 year old. So thin in fact that my mum and my aunt had to set to and knit me a dress out of wool unpicked from an old jumper of theirs.
Anderson shelters were cold wet and not nice to spend many hours in during an air raid.
Cold, damp, cramped for space. Airless.
The shelter I remember very well was dug out and covered with corrugated irron and the soil the was removed from the digging put over the iron. I can remember spending many nights in this type of shelter which was in the back garden of the house we lived in it was very comfortable and being under ground it was very warm. My mother and sisters lived in Shepards Bush at the time my Dad was serving in the army, this shelter was shared by all who lived in the house which had 3 stories plus a basement. It was very damp though and had no ventilation and lucky we were all related as it was very cramped to go out you had to climb over the others sleeping nearer the entrance.
What was your favourite and least favourite food?
Tinned "Spam" (mostly from USA) was my favourite. Off white bread was least favourite
Brussel sprouts. (Dad grew them in the allotment) / Spam from the USA
I would say that the best was fresh Vegatables,Fish and yes, I loved SPAM. The least favourite had to be Horse Meat because of the smell it made and I remember getting so sick from USA Peanut butter.
Jeanne Pentecost (Scholes)
What was school like during the War?
School life was affected by night raids causing lack of sleep(sleep sessions in classrooms were supposed to help!) Playing fields dug up to grow vegetables for school kitchens. Woodwork classes abandoned because shortage of wood. Swimming classes at local baths abandoned. Baths were used as mortuary for air raid casualties. Air raid and gas mask(respirator) practices.
The first month we did not have real lessons we were allowed to play card games. This was because the authorities could not decide whether we were in a dangerous area (Pudsey West Yorkshire). All team games between schools were cancelled as it was considered dangerous to congregate in large numbers. Cookery lessons were funny we learnt to make do with what was available. We made fish cakes with mashed potatoes, ground rice, parsley and some kind of fish sauce to give them flavour.
What was it like to be bombed?
Our ordeal lasted over many Months, so at first it was scary and affected some people a lot,they tried to get away from the Cities and found somewhere in the Countryside to live. We felt safe in an Air-raid Shelter (some more than others) but in reality most Shelters could not withstand a Direct Hit. The worse time was if you were caught in the open, I had this once,it was like this. My Mother was cooking a meal about 6p.m.one night as the Air Raid Sirens Sounded. She took my sister to our Shelter and left my Dad and I to finish off. I was carrying 2 plates of food down in a lull in the Explosions when I heard a Whirring sound. I didn't think it was a Bomb so I knelt-down hugging the precious meals. The sound got louder and something hit our Garden Shed with a bang. I then got up and scurried to the shelter. I admit I was very scared. Next day I found A big Shellcap in the garden.
I was born in Lower Broughton Salford in 1930. I attended to St Bonifaces school, as a ten year old boy I remember the Blitz very well on the night of December the 22nd 1940 Manchester and Salford were getting a real hammering. About four am there was a “lull” in the bombing, my uncle and I decided to take a look outside, as we stood on the front door step. I remember my uncle saying to me “Jim you can read a newspaper” and we certainly could, the whole sky was lit with a bright crimson glow, it seemed to me that all of Manchester and Salford was on fire. After a few minutes we heard the sound of enemy bombers, you could always tell them, their motors were out of synch, my uncle said to me, “we had better get back inside the house” in doing so he probably saved our lives because a few minutes later a parachute mine landed at the end of the street, by that time I had got back into my place under the old table, unfortunately the house was very badly damaged but we all survived. Because the place was unlivable we hired a horse and cart loaded our possessions and moved to an empty house on Bury old Road in Prestwich which we shared with our other relatives the Hamilton’s.
We were not hit directly but bombs dropped in fields close by and we had some bombed out people from Kirby Muxloe(reputed to be the most bomb damaged village in England) to stay with us. Until they came we were reasonably OK but they jumped at every AA gun firing and bombs in the distance. This affected us badly. No trauma counselling in those days!. Sleeping under a table or in the local village school shelter with only candle light. Gas had to be turned off and we did not have electricity.
What did you do to help the War Effort?
I was 12 at the start of the war, Helped AFS man paint yellow round fire hydrants (to make them visible in blackout) when war started. Collected rosehips for local WI. Collected acorns for pig food. Joined Army Cadets and later Home Guard(under age) Started work at 14years.Shift work and staggered hours. Volunteered for Army at 17. Called up at 17.5.
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