Second World War: Childhood of Air Raids and Weekly Rations

English girl recalls air raids, ration books and gas masks as common to her childhood during the second World War

| Good Old Days

I was 2 years old when Britain entered the second World War on Sunday, September 3, 1939. Growing up in Kent, in southeast England, normal life for me was nightly air raids with streets and houses bombed and burning. Food was scarce; I was so thin that my shoulder blades stuck out. I called them my angel wings. 

Four months after the start of war in Britain, food was rationed. The weekly ration allowed each person one ounce of cheese, two ounces of margarine, four ounces of bacon, one egg and 10-pence worth of meat. My mother sometimes used her egg to bake a cake. Mum tried to explain that there had not always been war and that it would end some day. I was too young to understand a way of life of which I had no recollection, so I thought she was wrong. I believed that people had to be killed in war or they would get too old. War was how people died.

I wondered why she didn't understand. I was never scared; I thought I had to take care of adults, who feared the raids. When the warning sirens wailed, my grandmother was always terrified.

"Oh dear, oh dear, what shall we do?" she kept repeating as she ran in circles.

I would catch her and reach up for her hand to lead her outside to the shelter. We each had to take our ration book, identity card, gas mask and a blanket.

All windows were made light-proof with sheets of black paper. Once outside, we stumbled down the garden path in darkness.

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