My war years 1939 - 1945 by Ruth Hale written in 1989

If anyone ever reads this, my son Giles and the fact that this year is the anniversary of fifty years since the outbreak of World War II, is responsible for this deluge of words. You must forgive me for no-doubt, I shall not get the happenings in order, nor shall I even remember the exact year the things I shall relate took place, but I will put them down as they come into my head. Although barely five I remember the outbreak of war vividly. My mother standing at the kitchen door, my father listening intently to the radio sitting me on his lap so I would not make a noise. Soon after, loud speakers toured the street informing all men over eighteen to report for army service.

Hampshire Reg. Badge

My father who had taken part in the first world war, had lost a leg' because of that conflict, so naturally could not enlist for this one, but my brother Don was of age, although I think in fact he wasn't eighteen until the following year. Anyway he left his job with the Local Council and joined up.

For several days we didn't know where he was, and I remember mum getting very upset and worried, eventually he got in contact and he was at Corfe Castle.He went with several of his friends to join the Hampshire Regiment, but I think it was because of his age they eventually drafted him to the search lights in London.

The first few days after the declaration, the siren kept sounding and everyone was afraid of an im-mediate attack, but it didn't come and for a while life seemed to settle down.

The next big thing in my life was starting school, which I hated. I went to a private school called The Oaks in Eggers Hill. It was a small school which took you right through from infants to eighteen ready for University, not that there was ever any hope of me getting that far. In-fact I left school at fifteen and went to work, but that's another story. I think from now on this is where the sequence of events will probably get muddled.

Hampshire Reg. Badge

My sister Mary was a telephonist, and that was classed as a reserved job so there was no question of her joining up, although many of our friends and neighbors did. Mary joined a section of the Home Guard, the fire watchers, and if the siren sounded and she was at home, she had to rush out, but I'm afraid she wasn't very brave, and I remember one night she stood in the street below mum’s bed-room window and made mum talk to her out of the window.

As the war progressed, rationing was started; this was particularly difficult for dad as he ran a butchers shop - everyone had to register at a butcher and at a grocer, and they were the only places you could shop. To begin with it wasn't too bad, but the food became very monotonous, only one shilling and six pence (equal to seven and half pence but taking into account inflation worth £4.37) worth of meat, and two pence (equal to about half a penny and 49p value taking into account inflation again) of corned beef per person per week. Sausages (God knows what they were made of) and rabbit were not on ration, and many weeks we had sausages for our Sunday dinner, because dad would have sold all the meat. It's quite surprising what can be done with the humble sausage.

As the war progressed, many items of food became scarce, everyone grew vegetables and either kept rabbits or chickens. We kept chickens, which meant we had to give up our egg ration to buy the food for them, but at least we had fresh eggs and the occasional chicken for dinner. We had a kitchen range and we used to get day old chicks. Mum kept them in a box heated by an electric light bulb surrounded by a zinc cone with strips of flannelette tied to it and stood on the range for extra warmth, and that's how she used to rear them. Sometimes if we had a broody hen it was my job at night, having let her sit on china eggs for a few days, to take out the eggs from under her and slip in the chicks, it always worked, and I can never remember it failing.

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