THE WAR YEARS 

gasmask

ration book and identy card

typical ration of food for one week

meat-egg-bacon- black pudding-butter -cheese-liver sausage

Territorial Home Guard

storming a house during and exercise

Remember this label that seemed to be on all of our clothes,  did you know what it meant

CC41

1942 British Civilian Clothing Order CC41

Rationing was severe and where economies in designs could be made they were. In 1942 under the Civilian Clothing Order the British government introduced sumptuary laws designed to give weight to the Utility scheme.  The laws made it illegal and unpatriotic to spend time embellishing clothing for sale, and forbade manufacturers using the CC41 label shown in the header from using fancy trimmings, unnecessary buttons, extra stitching or tucks or pleats or pockets more than was essential to function.



anderson_shelter

spitspin04

I  was 6 years old when war was declared on Germany but I wasn't even aware of it or what was in store for me and everyone I knew.  It seemed like something new was happening every day but everyone seemed to take it in stride.  However what I didn't expect was seeing my brother going off to war.  I remember being very proud but cried as I watched him walking down the street with his kitbag on his shoulder.  I wanted to walk along with him but my mother wouldn't let me. 

WHAT I REMEMBER.......   Going to school carrying a gas mask and laughing at the kids who were scared to wear them, they got the mickey This was a typical weeks ration of food (see image)

My sister's and I having our own  jars in the pantry with our ration of sugar and jam in them. We put our names on them and I secretly marked mine so I would know if someone was pinching it.  Never  worked though.

Putting treacle or jam in my tea when we ran out of sugar, we could use the saccharine tablets that were supposed to substitute for sugar but they tasted awful.

When we had sugar it was fun to put some in a paper bag with a stick of rhubarb , the way to eat it was to wrap your hands around the bag and the stick of rhubarb and shake it well and then chew on the rhubarb.

Coming home from school to find all of the wrought iron fence around the front yards had been cut down for salvage. That didn't bother me so much but they took all of the slides and roundabouts and even the swings from the playgrounds.

    Watching my mother and sisters  knitting gloves and balaclava's for the troops.

    Laughing at my older sisters trying to paint their legs and drawing a line up the back for a seam to make it look like they were wearing stockings.  Real stockings were hard to get due to silk and nylon being in short supply because of the war.

    Helping my brothers to put in a victory garden we went short of a lot of things but we always seemed to get enough to eat.  Maybe not the most nutritious food but filling none the less. One of my favourites was "fat and bread" any fat left over from  the sunday joint was spread onto a slice of bread and fried in the frying pan and then  smothered with HP sauce when it was done.  

    The Sunday joint used to be a roast of beef but because of rationing any kind of meat was used, mutton and even horse meat.  Most of the meat was tough and  had to be cooked for a long time to make it easier to chew.

    My mother like all of the other mothers had to go to the shops just about every day to try to find a bargain.  queues were every where so what with standing for hours in line and having to walk long distances while carrying one or two shopping bags, it was not an easy life for them.

    The powdered milk and powdered eggs took some getting used to but the eggs weren't too bad if you mixed them up with water and fried them in a pan. I found that lots of HP sauce improved the taste of just about everything.

Looking forward to Christmas when we always got Jaffa oranges in our stockings, they had really thick skins and were easy to peel.

Pomegranates were another favorite at that time I used  to eat mine with a pin picking out the little red seeds.

    Going to bed in the  winter time with a hot brick under my arm.  Rubber hot water bottles were hard to find as rubber was needed for the military. However the big ginger pop bottles filled with boiling water and bricks warmed in the oven and then wrapped like a parcel in brown paper made excellent substitutes. It was not uncommon to be awakened in the middle of the night by a loud bang as the cold pop bottle got shoved out of the bed.

    Going around with a bunch of kids collecting newspapers and tins for the war effort.

    The blackout curtains that everyone had to have cover the windows so no lights showed for the german bombers.  I can still remember the Air Raid Wardens on patrol at night after I'd gone to bed, shouting  "put that bloody light out" as they patrolled the streets nearby.

    Tagging along with the ( terriors)  Territorial Home Guard around the streets and in the countryside when they were practising their war games, it was always good for a laugh.

    Carrying a torch if you went out at night, there were very few street lights left on during the blackout.

    Listening to Lord Haw Haw on the wireless at night, broadcasting propaganda from Germany.

    Meeting new kids with funny accents who had moved into the neighbourhood. They had been evacuated  from other parts of England by their parents to live with relatives or anyone who would take them in until it was safe to go home again.

    My brother going off to war and leaving  a secret code which we pinned on the cupboard door.  It was a list of animals and each one represented a country.  In the letters he sent home he would mention an animal and I would get to look at the code to see which country he was in. The soldier's letters they sent home were censored so they couldn't say where they were.

    One day seeing the sky black with planes flying over the cemetery towards dowfold and a bunch of us kids running all the way up  there to see if they had landed.

   Stopping any American soldiers on the street and saying "got any gum chum" always got us a handout.

    Using the small storage room under the stairs for an air raid shelter. Not all of us could have fit in there but luckily we never needed to.  It had water, pop and lots of candles, tinned food and my stash of comics, probably had other things too but I had what I needed. Lots of people had Government issued Anderson Shelters which were constructed of sheets of galvanised steel. They could be bolted together to form a curved shelter and partially buried in the ground in their garden.   They weren't used very much as they were cold and prone to flooding.

    One day it was rumored that an enemy plane had been shot down near Roddymoor and pieces of perspex from the plane were turning up all over the place.  Someone came up with the idea to make a ring out of the stuff so we all went to Woolworths and bought a file.  It took awhile but eventually I made my ring and wore it proudly telling everyone that it came from a german bomber.   It wasn't until many years  later I found it to be a Wellington bomber on a training flight that crashed , sadly all of the crew were lost. ( More information on the crash on this site)

    At school having a weekly drill and marching over to the shelters that they had built under the ground.  I don't remember ever getting more than a few feet inside as it was pitch black and there was always an inch or more of water on the ground. We would have been a very wet and cold bunch of kids if we had ever had to take shelter in them.

    Going up to the Harperley Prisoner of War camp on a Sunday  to look through the wire fence at the Italian prisoners.  Some of them played football while others just laid around on the grass.

  The Italian POW's as they walked freely around the town in regular coats and jackets with brightly coloured patches sewn on them.  Later it was the German POW's who took their places and the Italians were moved into hostels to work on the land.

    VE Day when everyone on the street got together outside and had a big celebration with lots of food and drinks, that was a good time.  The best time for me though was when my brother came home from the war, shell shocked but in one piece.

    Those were hard times for the older generation but not so much for us kids, we never really understood how bad it was we just kept doing what kids do .