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Now closed: Win one of 10 copies of Voices from the Second World War

(84 Posts)
KatGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 11-Apr-16 11:06:59

We've teamed up with Walker Books to give away 10 copies of Voices from the Second World War - a powerful and extremely moving collection of first-hand accounts of the war, published in association with the award-winning children's newspaper First News.

Over 80 survivors share their stories with the children of today so that their memories will live on and the lessons learned will never be forgotten. Contributors include a rear gunner who took part in sixty bombing raids, a Jewish woman who played in the orchestra at Auschwitz, a Japanese man who survived Hiroshima and Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children by setting up the indertransport program from Czechoslovakia.

Many of the interviews were conducted by children, for many of them the only chance they'll have to hear about the Second World War first hand. A portion of proceeds will go to support The Silver Line, Esther Rantzen's new charity providing support and advice to older people.

To win one of 10 copies of the book, share your family’s stories from the Second World War below on this thread before midday on 11 May 2016.

Voices from the Second World War is published by Walker Books and is available to buy on Amazon. Read the free extract here.

vonmichael Mon 09-May-16 07:50:26

Do you remember the * The Forces' Sweetheart * Vera Lynn with her beautiful song * When the lights go on again *. If yes than you can listen to it on youtube.

Granny2 Mon 09-May-16 15:50:07

I was in the ATS in the Signals, my late husband in the Merchant Navy and my brother was in the Royal Navy. My father was an acetylane welder and cranesman on the docks at Edinburgh, he used to work sometimes for 48 hours on the trot.

bdavies Tue 10-May-16 00:55:25

My uncle, Peter McGovern, did not survive the war. My mother didn't know where he was buried until a long time after the war had ended.
In October 1944, members of the Special Air Service, captured by the Germans during a deep-penetration raid into Occupied France named Operation Loyton, were stripped naked, lined up along a ditch and shot. Since being parachuted into enemy territory, they had fought in uniform against military targets and so should have been accorded the protection of the Geneva Convention when taken as prisoners of war. But Adolf Hitler had decided otherwise. Under his Kommandobefehl – Commando Order – captured special forces troops were to be executed following the extraction of useful intelligence. For the men of the SAS fanning out across France after D-Day to prepare the way for the Allied advance, surrender was – had they only known it – not an option.
My Uncle Peter was one of the men who was shot.

villagefox Tue 10-May-16 18:36:34

My granddad always used to point out where the prisoner of war camp was on the edge of our village.

collins210 Tue 10-May-16 19:19:12

I am submitting this on behalf of grandfather, Mr John Victor Wattley, who is 82. It's an extract from his unpublished biography entitled "You Couldn't Make It Up". It's part of Chapter 2, Life as an Evacuee, which tells some of what happened to him on evacuation day and goes on to tell of how he was moved from pillar to post, of all the various billets he was moved to, mostly on his own for the 5 years he was an evacuee, including when he was bombed out on a rare weekend visit back to London.
Chapter 2 - Life as an Evacuee

And so it was that on 1st September 1939, my brother Roy and I were packed off to the country. We thought it would be for a couple of weeks - in the end it was 5 years! We were very young - but like many London kids in the 30's, we were already very streetwise for our age. Nevertheless, we'd do a lot more ‘growing up' in those 5 years and we'd learn a lot of new skills in an environment which was completely alien to us. Looking back, they were certainly character-building years.

I was 5 and quite small for my age with a mass of blonde curly hair like a blonde gollywog! I should have been a girl really - but grown ups thought I was cute and I dare say I made the most of that. Our Roy was 8 and with straight dark hair - at least he looked like a boy.

I don't remember anyone telling us why we were being evacuated or where to or for how long, but I suppose mum must have said something. Maybe she just told our Roy - because he was bigger. I do remember evacuation day though. Mum made sure we were dressed smartly in our grey flannel shorts and blue blazers with a hanky in the jacket breast pocket before taking us down to Tennison Street School. That was the ‘big' school at the end of our street (where the juniors went). It was actually in Thackery Street which ran across the bottom of Montefiore and Tennison Streets which ran parallel to one-another. We were assembled in the school hall and lined up to be examined in turn by ‘Nitty Nora' as us kids called her. She was looking for head lice, which were quite rife in those days. Those with lice were sent to one side for special treatment. Fortunately she didn't find any on Roy or me - in fact I was lucky and I never caught them.

From the school it was only about a 10-minute walk down to Battersea Park Railway Station, but parents weren't allowed to go. You can imagine the long snaking lines of kids marching two by two a bit like animals into the ark! Although I remember our Roy saying, "Don't worry Willie - I'll look after you", none of us kids had got a clue that we wouldn't be seeing our parents again for a very long time.

Once at the station we were assembled together in groups waiting for one of the Special Evacuee Trains to come for us. Lots had been laid on. It seemed like the whole of London was being evacuated that day. I didn't really know what an ‘evacuee' was, but I knew I was one. At least we had a good day for it ‘cos it was a beautiful, bright, sunny day. Funny how everything always seems better when the sun is shining.

You may be surprised to learn that it was an electric train - the Brighton line operated by Southern Electric. The carriages had side corridors with compartments off with space for about 10 kids in each sitting opposite one another in rows of 5. Although I was one of the youngest kids on the train, compared to many I was a seasoned traveller because I'd been on a train before - to the seaside at Eastbourne with Olga and Gracie. What's more, I'd seen cows in fields before, but to many of the kids this was a whole new world so you can imagine the atmosphere of excitement and apprehension which ran through the train. For some of the kids it all became a bit too much and there were a few tears. I think that's why Miss Jones came and sat in our carriage for the latter part of the journey. Prior to that we'd just been kids on our own as there weren't enough teachers for every compartment. This was my first meeting with her and I remember thinking she was a bit strange and a rather ugly woman. Much later, when I moved up to the juniors, she was to teach me and I came to like and rather admire her, which just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover. For now she just seemed a bit strange - not least because she kept her hat on. In fact, I never ever saw her without that hat -she wore the same one all the time she was teaching.

Being a special train, we went straight through to Haywards Heath without stopping at Clapham Junction, Streatham, East Croydon, Purley, Gatwick, Three Bridges or Balcombe. I guess the journey took about 45 minutes. Once off the train, we were marched across the road and assembled on the forecourt of Griffins Garage. There were quite a lot of tables set out and some sort of documentation was going on. Each child was given a paper carrier bag containing emergency rations. It had paper handles which weren't very strong. We thought it was for us, but it wasn't. We were to hand it over to the lady at our billet to help keep us in the first few days. Evacuee? Billet? - that was another new concept for us to get acquainted with. I don't remember being given anything to eat or drink. I just remember having to stand around on the forecourt waiting. We didn't know what we were waiting for, but eventually a number of green and cream South Down buses arrived - there were 4 or 5 - I can't be sure. Anyway, Roy and I were put on the last one to leave. The journey to our destination in Ardingly - was about 5 miles and took about 15 minutes. We pulled up on the forecourt of the village hall - Hapstead Hall - except there wasn't enough room for all the coaches so ours was sticking out a bit. I remember poking my head out of the window to get a better look at the clock tower and a voice from the front said clearly and firmly, "Would that little boy with the curly hair please put his head back inside the window". He was nice about it really - but I remember thinking, "We've only just got here and I'm in trouble already".

All the kids from all the buses were filed into the village hall and told to sit cross-legged on the floor. It was now around 1pm. We each had our little case or bag of belongings and our paper bag of ‘emergency rations' - which we weren't allowed to eat! Talking of eating - I remember we were given a drink of milk but I don't recall getting anything to eat. Soon people came to choose children and take them away to their various ‘billets'. Not very nice really, a bit like choosing slaves, except we weren't slaves, we were ‘evacuees' waiting to be ‘billetted'. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day. We could see the sun was blazing and we kids didn't want to be stuck inside. After a while, some of us got restless, not least ‘cos after sitting cross-legged for an hour or more, the buckle on your sandals starts to dig in. But we got no sympathy - just told to stop fidgeting and sit still. If you've ever been the last ones to be picked for a team at school because no-one really wants you, then you'll have some idea of how Roy and I felt because in the end there was just the two of us sitting cross-legged on that floor.

Eventually a Mrs Honeybun came, but there was rather a commotion because she'd come for two girls. She had two daughters of her own and felt girls would fit in better. But there were no girls left - only Roy and me - a rather girly-looking boy. In the end she was persuaded to take us just for the weekend and the billeting officers would sort out alternative accommodation on Monday. It was now almost 4pm and Roy and I had been sitting cross-legged on that floor for nearly 3 hours.

lilihu Wed 11-May-16 11:15:25

My dad used to show me his war wound… A burn scar on his hand!
He was in a protected occupation but was a volunteer fire watcher in the evenings
His team were just sitting down to a very hot cup of cocoa when a stray bomber beat the air raid siren and started machine gunning the area. Everyone flung themselves into the nearest ditch and hot cocoa went everywhere. He always turned this into a funny story for us kids!

KatGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 11-May-16 14:28:45

The winners of this competition are...


Please check your emails for more details smile

changeznameza Fri 20-May-16 00:56:27

Wow, thank you so much for the wonderful book! I shall treasure it. I have really enjoyed reading all the posts on this thread smile