Wednesday, 14 September 2011
A Wartime Childhood
We were on a family holiday at Prestatyn holiday camp in North Wales when we heard about the outbreak of the Second World War. Returning home with Britain at war marks the real beginning of my remembered childhood. We lived at 22 Cambridge Road, Ely where I was born in 1934. Betty, my only sister, was born in 1929. My father was now an accountant with the British Sugar Corporation at the sugar beet factory.
We returned from holiday to find an evacuee virtually on our doorstep. She stayed a few days but I believe she couldn't cope with the shock of such a traumatic event so was probably allowed to go home. We had another evacuee to replace her; this one was older, called Renee, and I suspect my sister Betty looked after her.
I was too young to really understand how difficult it was for everyone to adjust to the reality of war, although I was aware of the presence of the armed services being built up around us in the camps and airfields of East Anglia. We even had a prisoner-of-war camp just up the road which contained Italians captured before the fall of Mussolini. They were allowed to move freely in the local community as they provided labour on the farms. They wore brown battledress uniforms with large yellow patches on their backs and trouser legs. As prisoners-of-war their conditions were a far cry from those in the German concentration camps.