I was eight years old, it was summertime, and the sun was shining. Well, it was shining for me. My parents, however, were not in the mood for sunshine; war had just been declared. It was the afternoon of Sunday September 3rd 1939, and all our lives were about to change.
I was playing under the kitchen table with my little brother Douglas who was just four years old, and my father was talking to my mother about preparing an air raid shelter in the garden for us to use in the event of enemy planes bombing South London. I suddenly became afraid as I sensed the seriousness of the situation from my parents' manner. My dad went into the garden and started digging. I was certain the a war meant everyone would be killed, I was terrified, and began to cry. My mother cuddled me and tried to reassure me that all was well when suddenly a loud, wailing noise bombarded us from all directions. It was the siren giving our very first air raid warning.
Neighbours ran out into their gardens and started talking excitedly. Daddy had hardly started working on our shelter, and everyone ran around, like headless chickens, wondering what to do next. We didn't have to wonder for long because after a few minutes the siren sounded the 'all- clear'. It wasn't apparent why the alarm had sounded in the first place. Perhaps it was a false alarm or a practice run. Anyway, it wasn't an 'enemy attrack' and we all settled down again.
Some days later, Auntie and Uncle came to visit us. I don't know if it was planned, or if it was one of my father's on-the-spot decisions (later on in life, I was to learn he often made these), but it was decided that my brother Douglas and I should go to stay with Auntie and Uncle who lived in Blackpool, in case it became too dangerous for us in London. And so, we joined the many evacuee children leaving the capital.
Mum and Dad must have been truly worried about our safety, to allow us to live apart from them. We'd never been separated from them before and, when I too became a mother, I realised what an awful wrench this must have been for them.
Of course I missed my parents a lot, but life had suddenly become so exciting that I didn't have time to mope, (no doubt all part of the great plan), and my baby brother and I were off on our first adventure!
More to follow