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Monday, September 13, 2010

Memories



When we were in the walled garden at Houghton I asked Dad about his experiences as a young lad of 11 during the Blitz.

Dad had been evacuated (along with one of his brothers and sisters) but they didn't like it and returned home!

The family lived in London's east end in the docks. They were not hit whilst he was there but on the first night a near miss blew out all the windows and doors. After 5 nights of saturation bombing they headed into Essex. He said that the dust made the day look like night and at night the light was so bright you could read a book.

Dad is not bitter about it. As he said Cologne and Dresden suffered a similar fate and the average man in the street had no control or wish for it to happen.

In Essex they were one of seven families put up in the old Priory. The Priory was a big building and his dad would go up to the roof and look back to London and see London alight and say "someone is kopping it bad".

They lived in the Priory for a few years until a V2 came down close and blew the back off of it. Dad was more scored of the V2's and V1's than he was in the blitz. As he said he was that bit older, when he was in London he looked out of the Anderson shelter marvelling at the lights whilst his older brother was scared as he KNEW the risks.

When he left London aged 11 his education stopped. He missed out on doing his 11 plus and the village school was years behind where he had been in London.

He has often said that being in the country (hard to think of Harlow as country) meant they ate a lot better. They kept chickens and grew lots of food.

Growing up in the thirties in London shaped him and his brother as they saw the poverty of the depression, something Mum never saw in the country.

I think it is important to chat to our "elders" to understand what they experienced and to be able to pass on their memories.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very professional shot of your handsome Dad. You British men do fine things with your hair. American men are only comfortable with the shortest hair possible which the launder daily with fierce shampoos that seem to make it fall out early.

Tricia said...

Pete, what a fascinating account, and I couldn't agree with you more about talking to and listening to our "elders"; they are, after all, our history and Dad seems to be a good raconteur of the times he experienced; and so good that he is so pragmatic about his experiences.

My mother talks about what she and her family experienced and even now she shivers at the sound of an air-raid siren. And, similarly, it was the V1 bombs that were the scariest of all! Equally, there were good stories and funny ones too! It's so important that these don't get lost along the way.

The Wessex Reiver said...

I can't agree more with your sentiments that we should speak to the elders and listen. In this media and communication driven world, we have all but lost the art of listening. Listening gives us time to think, and to think is to learn and to learn, we must listen. I've spent a lot of my life listening to those who now are in their 80's and 90's and not one has wasted a word of common sense. A truly special generation. I only wish I'd had the foresight to record their words.

Pete said...

anony - he does NOTHING with his hair. when he was much younger he used a lot of brylcream

holdingmoments said...

Interesting Pete. I used to love talking to my gran about the 'old days'.
More valuable and personal than any history book.

oldcrow61 said...

What a great story. You're right, we should listen to the stories of the elders. I wish I had recorded the stories of my grandparents when they were alive. I do remember some but not enough.

diddums said...

Oddly enough I wrote a short blog post on a similar subject, but mine was awful so I didn't put it up. Maybe it just needs a little work...