I spoke to my Mum this morning…..this 75th anniversary of VE Day. She REMEMBERS the original one…..because, like she said, “We had jelly! You were never going to forget you had jelly!”
She was just a normal little girl when the war kicked off. Exactly the same age as my little niece, Erin :-
She tells tales (with zero emotion) of being evacuated out of Birmingham to Nottingham with her older brother, my Uncle Tom. Of how horrendous it was. How the family had too many evacuees to look after and that they were sleeping five to a bed. How ‘Our Tommy’ (all of 10 years old) kissed his little sister goodbye and told her he was going to ‘fetch Mam’ – and vanished into the night
‘Our Tommy’ – having NO idea where in the world he was, knew nothing other than the fact they’d got there by train. So figured if he walked along the tracks he’d eventually find his way home. So that’s what he did.
And if you look at Mum with abject horror and point out that they were in Nottingham, and their Mum was in Birmingham, and that is over 50 miles and Uncle Tom was TEN….. she just shrugs and says ‘that’s how it was’.
My Nan fetched her back and refused to allow her to be evacuated again.
She remembers being shot at out shopping for food with my Nan on the High Street in Kings Heath – ‘just at the top, by the church’. No air-raid sirens. No warning. Just a German Bomber unloading ammunition on his way back home. She remembers my Nan running down the street, dragging her along, the bomber right behind them. She remembers Nan throwing her into the doorway of a ‘mans shop’ (the little details that only children remember) and then throwing herself on top of her daughter to protect her. She remembers being given one of the spent shells off the street and being told that it ‘nearly had her name on it’.
She remembers the air-raid sirens. She remembers going down into the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden with it’s slatted wooden bed. And the cushions on it. Dragging a blanket with her and carrying a candle in a battered candle holder (which she still has). She remembers that she liked the air raid shelter – it was ‘cozy’ and it made her feel safe. With one exception (and there is still a flicker of fear at the memory) . And that was ‘the night Coventry got bombed’. She remembers being down in the shelter for 12 hours and hearing everything ‘just shattering’ above them.
I wonder what OUR children will remember of this current crisis?
They might remember that Mum had to queue for ever to get into the supermarket:-
and that she couldn’t always get everything she wanted:-
But they won’t ever have to remember eating horse meat because that was all she could get without using coupons.
They might remember the schools closing and having lessons at home: –
But they won’t ever have to remember having them in the air raid shelter whilst ‘everything shattered’ above them.
They might remember the really hot days. And that they played in the garden:-
But they won’t ever have to remember what it was like to still have a garden….and no house.
They might remember that they didn’t get to see Nanny and Gramps for what felt like FOR EVER. They might remember that they taught them to Facetime. And taught them ‘virtual hugs’
But they will never have to remember hearing the news and wondering if they survived ‘the night Coventry was bombed’
They might remember when the Milk Man suddenly became a local hero:-
They might remember hearing on the news that bus drivers were on the ‘front line’ and were dying just ‘doing their job’ :-
They might remember that they clapped for our nurses every Thursday night. And that they painted rainbows to say ‘thank you’. And that they learnt that our nurses were on the Front Line too: –
How ironic that our children will probably remember all the things that it now seems that their parents had FORGOTTEN.
And what about US? What will WE remember?:-
We might remember no hair cuts? No beauty salons? Grey roots. And getting up in the morning and ‘not bothering’ with make-up. Because ….what was the point??
We might remember being stuck inside with nothing more than housework to keep us occupied :-
We might remember the wedding that we didn’t have.
Or the baby that we DID have whilst all this was happening.
But we’ll never have to remember the Underground Station that was our Maternity Ward:-
We’ll never have to remember putting our children on a train and saying goodbye. And then being horrified a fortnight later when one of them turned back up on our doorstep having walked 58 miles to find you :-
We might remember the day the children had to go back to school and how we worried:-
And we might remember that we got them to hang out flags and bunting on this VERY day:-
And we will remember that on this, the 75th Anniversary of VE day, we weren’t allowed to have a street party like MY Mum did…..’with jelly’
But maybe – just maybe – that is because we hadn’t actually earned it.
Images Source – Google
Image Credits to hundreds of unknown photographers who knew the value of their craft.
We salute you all.