Author Topic: Keep the Home Fires Burning  (Read 734 times)

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doodlemor

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Keep the Home Fires Burning
« on: October 26, 2014, 11:35:42 PM »
I started this thread so as not to detract from the Remembrance Day thread about soldiers.

In the last several months I've read a number of novels set during WWII by UK authors, Maureen Lee in particular.  Ms. Lee's books are generally set in the Liverpool area, specifically in an area called Bootle.  The Annie Groves books which were written by Penny Jordan, the original author, were full of authentic details also.  Until I read these books I didn't understand just how terribly the civilian population of the UK suffered during WWII.   

I don't think that many Americans realize how difficult life was in the UK during WWII.  Most people nowadays have learned about this from schoolbooks, which would be too controversial if all of the details and horrors were told.

I read about Anderson shelters, ignition bombs, the evacuation of children to the countryside, air raids, the blackout, and the scarcity of most civilian goods.  I read about women unraveling old sweaters and making new garments by knitting the yarn again.  I read that people were supposed to conserve water, and could only bathe in a small amount.  The food available was often very unpalatable - I think that they may have even been offered whale meat.

The really frightening passages to me were about the air raids.  At that time radar was not generally in use, and the civilians didn't always have much time to try to get to a shelter.  Annie Groves in particular wrote about some of the same occurrences in several of her books - which leads me to believe that the events, or similar events, actually happened.  She wrote about a city bus and civilians in Liverpool being strafed by fighter planes, and about a fire truck full of firemen falling into a bomb crater in the street and exploding.

I believe that we also should remember the hardships of families and individuals on the home front.  They had to make great sacrifices in their daily lives while being supportive of their loved ones who were off fighting.  The books that I read were about the UK, but I'm sure that those living in continental Europe and in the Far East also suffered great trials. 

guihong

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2014, 12:03:47 AM »
I believe war anywhere, anytime ends up hardest on the home front-especially the losing side (which obviously wasn't the UK, but Germany).  Diaries set in the Civil War and just afterwards describe a Gone With The Wind-like scenario of starvation, destruction, and army occupation.




doodlemor

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2014, 12:10:24 AM »
I believe war anywhere, anytime ends up hardest on the home front-especially the losing side (which obviously wasn't the UK, but Germany).  Diaries set in the Civil War and just afterwards describe a Gone With The Wind-like scenario of starvation, destruction, and army occupation.

So true - and the horrors are still going on today!

I know a woman who was born in Germany and lived there until 1950.  She told me that by the end of the war she and a group of people were living in a hole that they had dug out of the ground in a farmer's field.  Earlier in the war she was with a group of people in a cellar under a house that was bombed.  They had to exit by crawling up the chimney.  Her father was imprisoned for not being supportive of the Hitler youth group, and it broke his health.  He did not live long after his release.

oz diva

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2014, 04:04:13 AM »
I also recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, she gave me a new understanding of life during the Blitz. And for a view from the other side, The Book Thief. (Set in Germany)

Rationing continued for a significant time after the war, the 1948 Olympics was held in London, the populace was pretty starved even then.

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StarFaerie

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2014, 04:22:53 AM »
I find your post quite interesting because it reminds me of what my mother has said about how the people in the UK with their rationing didn't really understand what the Continent went through during and after the war.

She was born in 1944 at the start of the HongerWinter in the Netherlands. But her family considered themselves lucky as they never went more than a few days without food.

But according to her the Germans had it worse. I know a German (Bavarian) man born in the mid-1930's who didn't taste chocolate until the late 1940's when a US serviceman gave him some for running an errand. It just wasn't available. Basic food was a luxury for him.

Really understanding what others have gone through is impossible I think, though it is good to try. :)

cicero

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2014, 05:02:13 AM »
I've read a lot of books/novels/historical novels about that period in England, as well a book about the German civilians during WWII(i forget the name of the book but it had a big impact on me. up till that book, all i've ever read about WWII was about Jews and others who were persecuted and murdered by Nazis, and this book showed the other side - the civilians whose country had gone mad).

I've also lived through a number of wars in Israel - we went through relatively short (albeit scary) periods of bombings and sirens, i can't imagine living through years of that. And this was before my time, but i know people who lived through rationing in Israel - a friend of mine told me that when her mother gave birth to her, the family was allotted a half of a chicken (they shared it with another woman who had just given birth).

I think the thing that most struck me about England was that the families in London sent their children off to the country for safety. These children were taken in by families - mostly strangers - and didn't see their families for years. some never saw their parents again as they were killed in air raids. to me that is just so sad.

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camlan

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2014, 06:25:52 AM »
How the civilians in England dealt with WWII has been an interest of mine for years. You get pictures of their life in novels, but there was a diary project going on during the war years, with an organization that encouraged people to keep diaries and turn them.

Nella Last's War is an abridged version of one of those diaries, and it has been made into a movie, as well.

What amazes me is the amount of good humor most people seem to have had and the cheerfulness with which they dealt with their entire lives being turned upside down.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


scotcat60

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2014, 11:17:03 AM »
Millions like us by Virginia Nicholson
When the children came home by Julie Summers

These book tell the stories of women in World War II and the stories of evacuees. Some of the evacuee stories are horrendous, and very sad. Others are heartwarming. Ms Nicholson said she almost called he book "we just got on with it" because that was inevitably what the women who had lived through those times replied when she asked how they had managed.

Yes people did eat whale meat, and also horse. My late Mum had both in her time during the war, and said horse had a sweetish taste.

It's true that not everyone managed to get to a shelter. In South East London, Wololworth's in New Cross, and Marks and Spencers in Lewisham suffered direct hits, and many inside were killed. There was a terrible disaster at Bethnal Green Tube when people were crushed to death trying to get into the station to take shelter. And 38 children and 6 teachers went to their graves when Sandhurst Road School in Catford was bombed.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Keep the Home Fires Burning
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2014, 11:29:23 AM »
I remember stories where there were car crashes because of cloth over the headlights of the vehicles so they weren't so bright as to make them a target.

My grandfather sent these beautiful cards home to my grandmother.  They were made into a tray; it's one of the few things I'm keeping from my Dad's place.  I'm sure we'll find some more goodies in some boxes in the basement that have been there for over 40 years.  Most things are going to my cousin (my Dad's brother's daughter), who is the family historian, but I'm keeping a few things.

My Dad's sister married a military man.  And had other suitors who were also military.  She was quite a bit older than my father but he remembers planes dipping their wings over the house as these suitors were wooing my aunt.  The one 'in the lead', so to speak, was Australian, I believe, training in Canada and was killed during WWII.  I don't know as my uncle was second choice - they were married for almost 60 years when he passed and still held hands when they were out and about.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
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