My great uncle had an allotment during the war and kept the family in fresh fruit and veg the whole time. I inhereted all his tools and still use them. My fork handle broke and still trying to find a replacement not easy . We dont know how lucky we are.
I will break this up as it is a long story.
!939, the phony war so it was said but in October nine German planes attacked Rosyth two of them were shot down by 602 and 603 Squadrons of the RAF, the very first attack on Britain, even with censorship news flashed round the country like a wildfire and our parents started to really worry.
That Christmas I got a brand new Hercules bike £4/19/6 as did a lot of the kids around the green Parents having gone through the first war knew it would not be over by Christmas so gave us kids a last spree.In the early spring the Germans broke out, the second evacuation happened the first one at the beginning of the war had reversed as the kids went back home, it was mainly in the South so we missed it. Schools had been closed on the declaration but opened again half the kids going mornings and half afternoon changing each week until shelters were built. If a bomb hit the school only half the village kids would die.Dad was driving round the country side delivering steam coal as most factories in the area had steam boilers, he had a newish truck a German Opel bought off a Japanese business man from Middlesbrough in 1938, not the best deal of the century although he was not the only one. It was better built bigger engine and was plated for 5 cubic metres an extra ton most British trucks were 4 cm. And so a total life change began.
Part 2. One Saturday morning in early spring Mother got my sister and I ready said we were going away, as we often went off in the car or the truck we were not worried and so we arrived at Deighton a single row of houses one side of the road farms at each end a Church and a Manse on the other side of the road, there was a field between the road and the house full of cows which we crossed to one of the cottages.We were introduced to Aunty Rose Waller (half the village were Wallers and half Thompson's) who showed us our rooms, two bedrooms and an attic room nice and cosy, we had tea and cake some of the relatives came in and as I got bored went out to have a look around. A little while later I heard an engine start up I knew that engine and started to run, past the cottage over the field and onto the road just as the truck disappeared round the S bend at the end of the village. I continued running and remember the terror of my parents having driven off leaving me with strangers in a strange place. I ran towards Appleton Wiske three miles away and collapsed into a bramble patch breathless and with a stitch, sobbing, I was cut and scratched on the arms and legs but did not notice, I was totally devastatedAunt Rose finally caught up with me and we both cried, she had only been married a few months and her husband had gone in the Army which was why she had wanted us and of course my mother was paying as well. Come on let us get those scrapes seen to and we slowly walked back, I do not think my life ever again reached such a low ebb.So started our life in Deighton, abandoned so we thought although loved by Rose and fussed over, all I saw was being torn away from all I knew and dumped in a place without running water, drinking water came from a well washing water out of the barrels under the roof down-comers and oil lamps instead of our gas and electric lamps.The village was all working farms though each cottage had a garden complete with outside soil closet which all ended up on the garden after it progressed through the midden. One of the farms had one child a daughter about three years older than me and curiosity got us talking, her Dad realised I had farming and animal background so told me if I helped he would give me pocket money, I spent all my spare time with him and the animals I suppose making it easier to come to terms with being abandoned. Rose told us she would be taking us to school on the Monday, that did not make me any happier.
More. Come Monday complete with school satchels lunch box and a bottle of water Rose walked to the corner where the road came from Welbury a village that had the main North South rail line running through it. A bus arrived full of kids all eyeing my sister and I, we were strangers and spoke funny, Teesside was only a few miles away but we did have different ways of saying things, a couple more pick-ups and into Brompton our new school, I had to sit a test to see where I was and then told two mornings I would be going on with the bus to Northallerton Grammar school to take prep Latin and woodwork?? they discovered I was well up in math so it was the top class of the juniors.And then it started, the pushing knocking being tripped and laughed at, I somehow remained calm though hurt until one day at play I heard my sister scream, one of the bigger lads had shoved her in the back and at the same time pulled her very long hair, he never knew what hit him, he was on the floor being well and truly belted when a strong pair of hands pulled me off, the Teacher asked what it was all about and got his side but some of the other kids told it as it was. Next morning as I got off the bus he was there with his Dad but so was the Teacher. The lads Father a farmer looked at me turned and said you are bigger than him and you let him do that to you then belted him round the ear for being soft. At least attitudes changed.Mum and Dad came to see us later, dad said Mum cried all the way home, so I gradually forgave them and they brought my bike.We went through Hay-making Harvesting and potato picking, gathered fruit from the hedgerows and the trees along the roadside which was bottled made into jam or became pies, the whole village joined in everything. I would harness up the pony and trap then go to the railway depot in Welbury to bring back the parcels for the village. Laura kissed me at any opportunity making me blush but then some soldiers came to Brompton training to ride bikes, and she went gooy over them, they were across the road from the school and much to our surprise a lot of them could not ride. We would watch as they got the order to mount then pedal and always someone would come wavering across the road, bike into the ditch and the soldier doing a nose dive into our school yard lower than the road, we would say another one dropped in and I would rush to pick up his rifle as he sorted himself out. I had been warned that I would be going to the Northallerton school but an influx of evacuees from Wear side and Tyne side after they were bombed put paid to that, the whole town was bulging with kids and the schools crammed so my mother took me home leaving my Sister with Rose. A rush of buying new uniforms and kit and into Secondary school also back to the war, Hitler decided he wanted rid of me, it got personal but another story.Deighton was not where I wanted to be, I was missing out on the fun?? and my pals, kids can adapt to most things although the horror of thinking we had been abandoned never really went away. I passed through the village a couple of times showing my wife where I had once lived for a short while but never stopped until last year. Parking the car and walking down the row of houses talking to people mainly retired, I found not one of the original villagers were left, I was asked into the cottage I had lived in now with all mod cons and felt sad, I know the visit laid the ghosts and also know I will never go back there. My Sons farm is just three miles away from Deighton strange how things recur.
Frank, that was fantastic, so poignant. people didn't realise how affected children could be by such changes in those days. Have you ever thought about writing a book or perhaps you have already done so. Most children today don't know they are born, they have every advantage and some of them just waste their time and chances, not all I hasten to add.
Thanks for sharing those memories with us, I feel quite emotional,
Chris, it was all bottled up for many years, other events took over and my own children were living in another world we just never spoke of it and so it went up to 2001 when the BBC asked for stories my Daughter asked me to write a couple. I made them funny although the hurt was there and it gathered pace until the BBC sent a crew up and we did a day of filming for the wars end anniversary. My Daughter then got me on Radio and more stories. I have written and filed a lot away for them to find when the last bugle sounds, I do not think they are interesting enough for a book.The series of War time Farm brings back so many memories of those years that are burned into the brain, I go shopping and come back without the bread or milk but you never forget those years.
Frank, you talk about helping with a film for the BBC.To see and hear a person describing events makes their story more vivid and emotional, than simply reading a written account.Some local history groups are actually very interested in capturing these sorts of memories, especially as they might relate to a local area. And the best way to do this is by filming them on a camcorder.It isn't difficult to take a person to the scene, and get them to talk about things, and film everything they say. So all their memories are kept, in the most authentic and realistic way.
Gary, indeed it is, if the person wishes to revisit the scene. The BBC was a full film crew and filmed a happy time the end of the war, it all came easy.The Radio was in a studio telling about the happier times and the funny times plus the general feeling of the people, I said I have driven through a couple of times but last year stopped. It all looked much as it was although sadly there was no one left of the people I knew. There were of course happy memories of Aunt Rose a wonderful lady who's husband died in the war, of the farm work and festivals still held war or no, those first dread days of being abandoned, or feeling that way probably eased a little with the telling but I know I will not go back.I do a lot of work for our local history with the Public Library much of it there for all to read also correct dates and timings on some pictures even modern ones can be way out, I keep busy Gary.
Dear Frank - you have brought genuine tears to my eyes. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and problems you had to face. And then there are some, of an unforgiving disposition, who have, in the past (old Beeb days), railed against any mention of the war. Shame on them - and hats off to you for being so stoic and refusing to be cowed!
Your memories ought to be in a book. You ought to flesh out the stories that you have told us (for which I am grateful). When "the last bugle sounds" the memories will be filtered through other people's interpretations. We need people like you to make it real for us.
I was born in 1949 so the war was close, but very much second hand. Your experiences are so poignant. I cannot begin to imagine the feelings of being abandoned - and at the same time, my heart goes out to your parents who were trying to do the best for you, and were probably in pieces as they drove away.
War is more than battles and bravery at the front. It affects so many in so many different ways. We would all do well to be reminded of that from time to time - glorious it isn't. Imo.