I had a lovely afternoon yesterday. My future daughter in law, Kerry, is a primary school teacher and this term her class is studying Wartime Britain. My mum was an evacuee and remembers quite a lot about rationing etc, so I took her in to the school to chat to the class. The class was apparently quite excited as someone 'real' who was in the war was coming in. I did say that if they asked me if I remembered the war I was leaving immediately! The class was a bit shy at first, but once they (and Mum) relaxed, the questions really started to come thick and fast. I learnt quite a lot too:
What did you miss most with rationing? Fruit, my dad was a greengrocer before the war and we had eaten lots of fruit and of course we couldn't get any during the war.
What was the worse thing you can remember about wartime food? Mashed parsnips with banana essence in bread - I still don't like bananas.
What was the worst thing about being evacuated? Being served lumpy porridge!
What do you remember about Christmas? Tinned fruit.
What toys did you take into your Anderson shelter? My teddy bear.
Do you remember being scared? Yes, when the doddlebugs went silent.
Do you think rationing was a good thing? Yes because it meant that what food there was, was shared equally.
Where you close to where a bomb was dropped? Yes, the factory behind our school was bombed and at the time we were under our desks practising our attack drill. The only girl that got hurt by shattered glass was someone who hadn't got under the table. The moral of the tale - always listen to your teacher!
The questioning went on for about an hour. Mum did a really good job. She gave them a good overview of her memories, but also emphasised that war is not glamorous. It was a tough time and she really hoped that none of them ever have to live through it. Unfortunately the consequences of war could well touch some of these children as Colchester is a garrison town. Let's hope that their Mothers, Fathers, brothers and sisters come home safely and that the war stops soon. We really should have learnt from history that war is not the answer.