While the Bombs Fell
While the Bombs Fell focuses on my mother’s life during WWII from 1941, the year she turned three, until 1945, the year she turned seven.
Life for a small girl growing up in the small English town of Bungay during WWII was markedly different from life today. For the purposes of this article, I have focused on the home, food and school to highlight the many differences.
My mother was born in a small, double storied cottage, in a row of similar cottages on Nethergate Street in Bungay, Suffolk. She was the sixth’s child of Alfred and Hilda Hancy and had a baby brother. Her parents had lived in Bungay all their lives, as had their parents.
There was no television and the children occasionally went to the cinema for entertainment. The show always ended with everyone standing to sing the national anthem as a show of patriotism for Britain. Her father had a wireless, but he only used it to listen to the news in order to save electricity for the war effort.
The family did not have an indoor toilet and had to go outside to an “outhouse”. They did have a flushing toilet, but a lot of other families used a bucket system. The children used a chamber pot that was kept under the bed, if they needed the toilet during the night. The boys all slept in one bedroom and the girls in another. Her parents had their own bedroom with a cot for the baby.
There was no central heating. Everyday, her mother lit a coal fire to warm the main living area. Coal was rationed and had to be eked out in order to light the copper for the washing once a week and the oven on a Sunday to cook the tiny roast.
Food was rationed and sugar, butter, flour, meat and many other foodstuffs were in short supply. My mother’s family was better off than many because her father was a dairy farmer, so they had plenty of milk. Eggs were in short supply and smelled like the fish meal the chickens were fed. My mother’s father shot rabbits and other game that strayed onto the farm, to supplement their food supply.
The children often had bread, milk and a sprinkling of sugar for their evening meal and they were often hungry.
Every member of the family had their own ration book which contained coupons. When their mother went shopping for food or other rationed items, including clothes, the shopkeepers would cut out or sign the coupons. Many people grew vegetables in their gardens as part of Britain’s “Dig for Victory” campaign. Carrots and potatoes were used as a replacement from any other rationed products including sugar and flour. The British government distributed pamphlets containing recipes for “war-time” recipes to help people prepare healthy meals using the available ingredients.
There were no supermarkets and various shopkeepers supplied specialised products, such as the town baker, butcher and fishmonger.
Classrooms were cold and the windows were high up so the children couldn’t look out.
The teachers were strict and corporal punishment was used to correct children who were naughty or got their lessons wrong.
Singing games were a bit part of the break-time entertainment activities.
The school toilets were old and were not cleaned very well. They smelled bad and leaked water all over the floor. The cubicles had no doors. My mother had a problem with her bladder and the trauma of having to use these unappealing school toilets caused bladder infections which plagued her for the rest of her life.
During school dinner times, the children that lived close enough, walked home for dinner. Those that remained at school had to pay if they wanted to participate in the lunch offered at a close-by tearoom. There were no free school meals. The food was awful and made from packet potatoes and eggs with were gluey and unappealing.
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children's books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
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