For number one son

For number one son

My Nan wrote number one son a letter, because he was asking questions about the war. This is a fantastic personal history, which I will transcribe here.

My name [Mrs Barbara O'Brien](http://www.clarkeology.com/names/sherwood/6/barbara+alice) I am the Great Grandmother of [number one son's name here] My memories of [World [War](/wiki/#war) Two](/wiki/#world/war/two).

I was nine yrs old when war started. I lived in a house quite near Portsmouth Dockyard so it was a target for the bombers. At night when the raids started my mother put us in siren suits (not unlike the onesies worn today) but a lot warmer with hoods. A siren used to sound to warn us a raid was to begin so we had to sleep in a Anderson Shelter. These were dugouts in the garden made of corrugated iron, they were about four ft underground with lots of dirt and turf on top. They were supposed to help keep us safe but there were cold and damp and spiders. You could hear the planes coming and the bombs dropping.

My father told us to sing to drown out the noise, the louder and nearer the bombs dropped the louder we used to sing. And then the dreaded doodlebugs started (flying bombs). You could hear the drone of the engine and when that stopped you knew it was coming down, so we would put our hands over our eras praying it did not have our name on it. When the raid finished another siren was sounded to sound the all clear and we came out of the shelter to see what damage was done. A lot of houses was destroyed and a lot of people killed.

As regard school we only went for half a day mornings one week and afternoons the next week.

And then we had rationing, food, clothes and you could not buy anything made of metal that went for munitions. We had ration books which you had to take to the shop to get your shopping and coupons for your clothes. I remember my mother had a coat made out of an army blanket which someone gave her. If bananas or oranges came into the shops you had to get in a long queue for them. We also had dried eggs and dried milk.

When the raids were happening every day and night, my father (the boy's great great grandfather) who was in the air force decided to evacuate us to a relative in Sheffield. They had a large pub which had a large cellar. Although they still had air raids, when we were down in the cellar it was nearly sound proof. My father borrowed a car to take us to Sheffield and when we got as far as Rugby a bad raid started so we were put in the vaults of the museum where all the old relics were kept, including some prehistoric animals.

Whilst we stayed in Sheffield for about four years our home in Portsmouth was destroyed plus a lot of others and there was a lot of families lost their lives. When we came back to Portsmouth my father had to rent a house in Cosham where we stayed till the end of the war.

It's lovely to have this letter, number one son will treasure it in the future (I hope) and it will come in useful for school history projects.

I'll do some more digging, get details of the pub in Sheffield. The night at the museum is obviously a strong clear memory!

⬅️ :: Lovely weekend ➡️
Mon Aug 11 2014