Childhood Memories, WW2 England and on.
Posted on December 14 2017
I was 5 years old when the war ended in 1945. If you have been around a 5 year old, you know that I saw plenty through my early years. Children were sent to live in the country, hopefully out of harm‘s way and I remember those years clearly. Whooping Cough and Measles, being sent to hospital and very insulted at being put into a baby cot with sides and my mother having to come and take care of me there because they didn’t have enough staff to take care of so many children with the same sicknesses.
I have other stories about my toddlerhood but I want to move on with this one. My new step father was an Major in The Royal Scots, a Scottish Lowland Regiment. He was posted out to Germany in the BAOR, British Army of the Rhine.
My mother and I soon followed, crossing the Channel in choppy waters. I imagined Germans to be great big Kakki insects. No. They were just like us only very poorly dressed with old worn out shoes.
We lived in a house about two blocks from the “German Sector”. I have many memories here too, but the ones that stand out have to do with my interest at about the age of 7 in getting away from all the jeeps and motor bicycles. They frightened me. We had a German cook, Minna, and various other house staff but no-one was particularly interested in me. My governess at the time had some kind of crush on a local fireman and I was often allowed, encouraged to go out and play as long as I came home for lunch.
My Stepfather had given me an old watch of his. Large, but useful. I would tie several hair ribbons into my hair and set off for the high barbed wire at the end of my street. There was a sentry box with a Polish Guard. No problem. I was English and therefore safe! We all had to wear a small enamel Union Jack pin. I kept mine sort of hidden but would show it to him and walk on through to make my way to a farm not very far away, where there were some of my new friends, children, animals and oh dear, a terrifying Goose. I learned to open my coat wide, and run at him shouting and waving the coat. Yes, my friends taught me much. I was soon speaking German and felt much at home with the whole family. The kitchen smelt of cabbage and I was astonished to see the Grandmother carefully extract by dint of pulling, a long thread from a cotton garment so that she could use it to sew up a hole in something else. I saw the value and rarity of needles. I began taking the odd one from my mother’s sewing basket. You see, clothes were rationed along with lots of other things and she made my clothes, so she had lots of cotton reels and needles in that box. Yes, my mother was fairly annoyed by my constantly returning home without any hair ribbons too, because she had carefully collected many before leaving England. Hair ribbons were worn a lot by little girls at that time.
I learned how to play with no toys with my friends. We could carefully pierce around the middle of an acorn to take off half çthe husk, find something small to stick into the middle with a piece of paper as a sale and have races on the nearby stream. There was a little bridge, so we would watch them pass under it and wait to see which came out first. I learned to climb trees, play with the animals, oh we had a lot of fun and, unlike other army children, I became fluent in German. I remember the farm clearly and the dirt road that led there.