Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Memories of a wartime London childhood

Dad & WW2

Some have talked about their experiences during WW2. Too early for me. I was born in late '58. But I have talked with my Dad on many occasion about what happened. This is the gist of a few conversations over the years.

My Dad had three memorable near miss type of encounters. The first experience was when a "landmine" type device exploded before it hit the ground on its journey into the back garden. The initial blast threw the boy, who became my Dad, across the floor of the bedroom.
His Mother had only just left the kitchen- adjacent to the garden- and would have been killed or seriously injured had she not have, a few moments beforehand, walked away and into the lounge. The front door was blown out as were all windows. Within a few hours, however, everything had been replaced by the community Watch.

On another occasion, aged 15, and whilst working at the Standard Telephone Exchange in North London in late 1944, he was forced to dodge another missile. After arriving earlier than usual for work a frantic announcement came out over the tannoy for everyone to "get down". He heard the "whoosh" which was a good sign but it was close. Too close.

Moments later a VI (or V2) Rocket hit the Exchange. It was an obvious communications target. I am surprised though at the accuracy. Those German scientists certainly had their finger on the button of new technology that is for sure. I wonder where NASA or the Russian equivalent would be today without those innovative Nazi's?

Anyway, a rocket had hit its intended target and exploded like a fireball into some vats of acid; you can imagine the scene. Many people died. My Dad left his employment shortly after this event. His education had not been good so he decided to take himself to Pittmans College.

On another occasion while out walking in Southgate N14 he and a school friend passed a large block of flats converted into an old people's home. Whoosh!!.... then, a massive explosion. The Home, and everyone in it, were gone. They had walked passed where the explosion had occurred only minutes beforehand. Some call this fate, I suppose.

But all in all, as a young lad in London, I think he enjoyed the War. Looking up into the sky to see spectacular arial dogfights as the RAF battled the Luftwaffe. Hearing the beautiful, smooth, rumble type sound which characterized the Spitfire Rolls-Royce engine.
On the horizon, looking over from a vantage point of North London, East London could be seen ablaze.

Often, he went out collecting shrapnel. It may have been dangerous but it was exciting for a lad. Even if it was sometimes grim for many of the adults or those more involved. Maybe a few of the Health & Safety Commissars of today ought to reflect on what life was like back then. What they seem to have achieved is a suffocation of all existent possibilities in life.
There also appears from our ongoing conversation- he is now almost Eighty -a deeper sense of community in the way people lived back then.

For the generation before me there definitely seems to have been a common identity and spirit forged from adversity and in having a common enemy to fight against. Winston Churchill's speech about "...fighting them on the beaches...", could be heard blaring out of nearly every radio, in almost every home, in almost every street.

Of course, street crime was more or less non existent back then. Those of the liberal left persuasion will attempt to argue otherwise. Lacking a common enemy we now fight and bicker amongst ourselves. I hope the Conservatives can fix it.

New Labour have made British society far worse by depending on a format of never ending spin, politicking and Left Liberal social ideology.

As we have all seen this has resulted in the madness of political correctness and uncontrolled immigration on a scale beyond all comprehension.

British soldiers in WW2 never fought for that. They never fought for the cynical abuse of power seen today by those in our Government. They never fought to see a broken multicultural society. They fought to end Fascism; not to see a return of it in the form of Left Liberal ideology.

It is not an exaggeration to say that some miss WW2. Not the death and injury, of course. But some miss the bringing together of those in the community who not only shared common values but found a sense of belonging in being British in an uncertain world.
I know my Dad does. And, he is not the only one.

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