Joyce George

Recollections of growing up in wartime London.

School life

Joyce George was born in 1928. She was 11 years old when war was declared and remembers clearly the sense of fear which she felt when the air raid siren sounded. She was not evacuated, and stayed in London for the duration of the war.

Although schools were initially closed, after a while Joyce attended classes in the mornings. No teachers were available and she was bored at school, as the children spent the mornings drawing and colouring in. She was issued with a gas mask but after trying it on for the first time she resolved not to wear it again – fortunately she never had to. During raids she sheltered in the cramped school cloakroom as there was not a purpose built shelter. After a while schools were re-opened and proper lessons resumed, allowing Joyce to regain a sense of normality.

Air raids

During air raids Joyce went with her parents to London Bridge Underground, which her father felt was the deepest and therefore the safest of the stations. She did not enjoy the experience as it was cramped and uncomfortable – strangers were crowded into a small space, all trying to get some sleep. It was also dangerous as people arrived to shelter whilst trains were still running. During one instance, when an unexploded landmine landed above the station, those sheltering had to walk along the tracks to Borough Station in order to leave the Underground. When they eventually did so, they found that fires were still raging.

At the age of fourteen Joyce left school – after leaving on a Friday she had found a job by the next Monday. Whilst her father continued to shelter in the Underground, both Joyce and her mother refused to do so. Her mother sometimes used a brick built shelter which was constructed near to where the family lived but Joyce stayed in their third floor flat. However, one evening she heard a buzz bomb close by – she began to panic and run down the stairs but its engine cut out before she had reached the ground floor. Fortunately for Joyce the bomb landed some distance away.

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Joyce George
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To read more about Joyce's wartime experiences in her own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 28/01/2012.

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