Sheila Watt

Recollections of wartime childhood memories.

Evacuation

Born in March 1938 Sheila does not recall the early part of the Second World War. Her first memory of the war is of her father coming down to the cellar under the stairs, used as a shelter before the family received a Morrison shelter, covered in sot after having been in the house during an air raid. Although Sheila does not remember the first years of the war she is aware that she was evacuated, with her mother and sister, from the family home in Streatham to Hertford. She has also been told that during the period as evacuated she would only eat when her father came down to visit. After six months it was decided that 'if we were going to die, we would all die together, so we all went back to Streatham and we all survived'.

Sheltering

She believes her parents decision to get a Morrison shelter rather than an Anderson shelter was due to the fact that it was easier to sleep in. The large Morrison shelter stood alone in the front room of the terraced house. Before the Morrison shelter arrived, a year or two into the war, the family took shelter under the stairs. Sheila recalls 'Later on in the war we had a Morrison shelter put up in our sitting room, in which we all slept regularly and ate meals during air raids. At quieter times my sister and I played tennis on it'. Nowadays, when she thinks about the provisional shelter she wonders how her parents had room to sleep with the two children in such a small space. 

Holiday in Grayshott

In the summer of 1942, the family went for a week's holiday in Grayshott in Surrey. One day, Sheila recalls, 'my family and I and several other people who were staying there went for a walk. At the time sign posts had been taken down in case of German invasion. At one point on our walk we got lost and local people would not give us directions for getting back in case we were German!'

A different life

When her parents talked about ‘when the war is over’, Sheila struggled to understand what they meant. She could not imagine what it would be like after the war as her only memories were of wartime. But with the arrival of peace life changed. Peace provided a newfound freedom which took some time to get used to.

As Sheila grew up with the war she found it hard to imagine anything else and she finds it difficult to say if the war changed her. She feel privileged to remember the war but also lucky that it did not ‘mess up’ her education as it did her sister’s. She also thinks that having lived through the war her generation was brought up to economise.

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This page was added by Malin Lundin on 04/11/2011.

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