The final day of my four-week experiment. I invited the family around for lunch – just something casual to use up the remains of my rations: vegetable soup, rolls with a variety of fillings (bacon/cheese/egg mayonnaise), potato scones and apple/pear crumble to finish. The only thing no-one touched was the red cabbage coleslaw. (They don’t know what they were missing.)
I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne for sharing so many of her memories as a child growing up during the war years. Recipes can always be found in books, but personal memories are priceless.
So, in closing, here are Anne’s thoughts of how the war directly affected her life.
The change to living in a quiet village after the hustle of Glasgow and its varied populations from slums to patrician ‘big houses’ made a big impression. The change from a house where there was nowhere outside to play and I wasn’t encouraged to invite friends home, to the freedom of the fields and moors and woods: all this made me determined always to live in the country if possible.
When I was desperately looking for a home (in the early 60s), I was so glad when the cottage was offered; I knew we were going to be miserably poor for a while and in a village all ‘classes’ live cheek by jowl and rub shoulders, including in the school. The only alternative was a miserable flat in Nottingham.
Minor impressions: my father cursing Hitler when he was trying to make my gas-mask fit properly – the searchlights on the Clydebank nights – the utter impossibility of finding nice things for birthday etc presents – the joy of the young, enthusiastic teachers at Balfron instead of the elderly disillusioned ladies at Hillhead.
Worst memory: sitting in a cinema a few months after VE Day, just finished watching a Hollywood musical when Belsen flashed on to the screen – top story in the News report. That will never leave my memory – sickening shock. Could a whole nation be capable of such inhumanity? Of course not, but they let it happen, and it happened.
What do you remember of VE Day? Of VJ Day? Not a lot – it was a holiday of course, the bells rang, the streetlights came on (great cheering) and the papers were full of photographs of Churchill, the royal family and the heads of the armed services and masses of others. I know there were street parties and dancing, but the euphoria wore off after a couple of weeks. VJ was celebrated too, but a little bit less so.
What about the nuclear bomb? Everyone was stunned; it was so hard to believe. After a while people accepted the facts and that it had saved countless lives and years of war. Maybe such a weapon would bring wars to an end? Fat chance – it seemed no time till it broke out in Korea and the rest is history.