World War II: England--Individual Experiences

Figure 1.--.

We are archiving individual accounts about Britsh children during the War. Like their parents, the eperiences were many and varied.

C. Peachey (Suffolk)

An English writer describes his experience at Barton Mills. This is a small village in Suffolk. HBC has some information on the village school which closed just before the War began. The former styudent at the school writes, " "I well remember the war starting. My mother, my two sisters and I left church and were met by my father who said, "The War has started." On arriving home my mother set about making black-out curtains for the windows. That night the siren sounded indicating an air-raid. We were woken up and taken downstairs. For adults the war must have been a sad and worrying time, but for us children it was very exciting. Being close to three large airfields, there was always something happening - aircraft crashing, Mildenhall base being bombed one Sunday evening and soldiers of all nationalities stationed in the area - it was wonderful! My father and uncle dug our air raid shelter in the garden. It was roofed with untreated timber and corrugated iron and then covered with soil. If a bomb had dropped within a radius of a mile the lot would have collapsed, burying us alive! A Morrison table shelter followed - this was made with heavy gauge angle iron corners and a thick steel plate top. The sides were covered with steel mesh. After a time in this you felt like a chicken. "Homeleigh" was occupied by the W.A.A.F.S. during the war, but that is another story. A navigation aid beacon was stationed on top of Cherry Hill, manned by RAF personnel who worked in shifts - one at the beacon and one at the Bell! Producing food was the main occupation of the village and everyone was heavily involved in this. School holidays were extended so that we could help get in the harvest. With double summer times in operation it was light until eleven at night - so long days were the norm. At long last the war ended and I still remember the sadness in the village when a local lad was killed or was reported missing and when prisoners of the enemy came home - and some did not."


Peachey, C. "A child's war in Barton Mills," (2000).


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Created: 5:39 PM 10/4/2005
Last updated: 11:15 PM 9/19/2006