Ann Gamêt

Recollections of childhood memories of life on the Home Front.

Wartime family life

In 1939 Ann lived with her family in Chatham. She was very young and consequently remembers little about pre war life – she did not believe the stories which her siblings told her of the times when they had eaten eggs, ice cream and bananas! Her earliest memory is of visiting her father who was in the Marines. Ann and her mother travelled to Dunfermline where her father was posted. They meet him in the park. He was wearing his uniform and told Ann that when he blew his whistle everybody would run towards him, although Ann did not believe him. She later learned from her brother that their father had been responsible for finding deserters.

Ann and her family stayed at Dunfermline for two years. Although she was not frightened as she was young, she remembers the raids and the sound of the siren as they waited in the kitchen until it was safe to go to the shelter. In 1944 Ann was six years old. During one raid the children stayed in the shelter whilst their mother returned to the house. After the raid they discovered that she had given birth. Ann’s brother complained that it was another girl. When she asked where the baby had come from the midwife explained that she had brought it in a bag.

A new dress

Ann’s family had little money and usually she wore her sister’s old clothes. Ann attended a private convent school. Despite rationing, her mother bought her a new white dress but was unable to find matching shoes. Although other children had them Ann believes they were obtained via the black market. On Communion Day Sister Mary told Ann that if she heard bombs she must throw herself onto the ground. She recalls thinking to herself that she would not do this whilst wearing her new dress.

Evacuation

Ann’s siblings were initially evacuated, which they tell ‘terrible stories of’. Fortunately her evacuation experiences in Hertfordshire were positive. Although she was initially frightened the people whom she stayed with were pleasant. Ann's mother suffered from TB. The place where she was billeted to cared for children whose parents were unwell.  

A child's perception of war

Ann recalls collecting chalk which she used for hopscotch and shrapnel, although she did not understand what it was. During a particularly bad raid a bomb fell and all were shocked when Ann said that she hoped it had damaged her teacher’s house and so she would not have to go to school. Ann also recalls seeing barrage balloons. In later years a friend who had served in the RAF informed her that they were winched up. In her youth Ann had mistakenly believed that they had always been there.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 05/04/2012.

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