I was at school at Hartshill South when World War Two was going on. The school holidays went on as normal. At night I heard the planes going over and identified them with my friends as either British or German; you could tell by the noise of the plane. I was fitted with my gas mask. I remember slowly drinking cocoa as the sirens would go off to tell us the planes were going over. When this happened we took shelter in the Anderson shelter or under the stairs if it wasn’t too bad. Pets were a big concern with us in case they got hurt. We wanted to keep pets safe and take them to the shelters with us.
Not used to seeing sweets
We picked rosehips at school for them to be made into rosehip syrup for babies to supplement their diet. We were not used to seeing sweets as they weren’t available. There was hardly any fruit either due to rationing. If queues were seen, people would automatically join them just in case food was being given away. Although food was scarce, people never went hungry.
Prisoners of War
Further on in the war, there were a lot of prisoners around Nuneaton. As a child, you realised that the Germans were fighting for their country just like British men were. Children served German soldiers tea etc and then later on, when America joined the war, they served them too. Americans introduced children and adults to chewing gum. As soon as the convoy of Americans came through the streets the cry was “Got any gum chum?” as the soldiers were pleased to supply this to us children.
The war ends at last
When the war ended at last there were street parties, bonfires, long trestled tables in the streets and large celebrations. I remember the food, including jelly for the children. I didn’t know where all this food came from. To us children, mothers were miracle workers.
Originally published on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website as the article School/Child Life in Nuneaton. This article has been reproduced with permission of the BBC, and Warwickshire Libraries.