It was my 11th birthday on 3rd September 1939, the day that war was declared and I was living in Manchester. I had just left Junior School and having passed the 11+ I was ready to go to Levenshulme High School.
I was an only child and my parents had taken the weighty decision that I should be evacuated so during the last week of August we had to go to our new school to await instructions. We had to be at school at 10.00 am on the Sunday when we would be taken to a railway station, but did not know our destination. As soon as the train started we all asked: “Where are we going?” It was BLACKPOOL, the most popular holiday resort locally and most of us had already been there.
While we were there my friend and I were in 3 different billets. Everyone was very kind; I am sure it was not easy for them accommodating strangers in their homes.
We shared classrooms with a local school, which worked well, and as we were the 1st year of our new school all our books had to be sent to us. It was a great thrill to have these brand new books and I remember reading them in bed at night.
However, this was the time of the ‘Phony War’ and everything was still quiet, so we all returned home in February 1940. Later in the summer we heard daily radio reports of air flights in the south giving details of how many German planes (Dorniers and Messerschmits) were shot down and the British losses – this period of time was later known as the Battle of Britain.
Back at school we adopted a merchant navy ship; these ships kept Britain supplied with raw materials, arms, ammunition, fuel, food and all of the necessities of a nation at war throughout World War II – literally enabling the country to defend itself. We knitted pullovers for the crew (and the captain came into school to see us). We were also encouraged to buy National Savings Stamps (which were redeemable after the war); we had a chart on the wall to show how much we had saved together.
Over the next two or three years we had regular air raid alarms. We had a (cold and damp) Anderson Shelter in the back garden which we went down into when Manchester was bombed.
After the dreadful fall of all the European countries to Hitler, I clearly remember the victory of Field Marshal Montgomery at El Alamein in North Africa in 1942 as the first bright light of the war; then the D-Day landings which meant the end of the war was in sight; and finally our street party in celebration of victory in 1945.