I remember having my third birthday ‘party’ in the totally reinforced dining-room/lounge of our home, then in Woodside Park (we moved to the Suburb when I was 10). My war-time birthday cake had pink icing – made from beetroot juice!
The reinforcements were big wooden joists and the whole family slept in that room. There was a brick wall built about 18 inches just outside the garden doors/windows which was supposed to act as some sort of defence if there were a direct hit. I always imagined it collapsing onto the windows.
In the garden was an Anderson shelter – I remember seeing its interior, but no memory of it ever being used to sleep in. I was supposed to act frightened of the bombs – but really I wasn’t.
My father was in the Hendon Fire Service – I do remember him going out with sandbags to smother incendiary bombs which landed in our street – they exploded if you put water on them.
We went to stay on a farm in Minehead in Somerset towards the end of the War – not an Evacuation as such, as I wasn’t yet at school. I remember a stone hot-water-bottle to warm my bed – and being given a spoonful of Radio Malt every day, to make sure I had strong bones. I loved dried egg. On VE Day, I wore red, white and blue hair ribbons in my hair.
When I reached the age of 5 I had to go to school. The only school in Minehead where I could go was a French Convent, boarding school. So I boarded. I had to reach up above my head to reach the washbasins. I learnt French, the alphabet, how to count and tell the time, and the ‘Our Father’. And got broncho-pneumonia. This was before the days of penicillin/antibiotics being generally available; all they could do was to treat it with ‘M & B’ tablets. Took 2 weeks in hospital to cure me.
My wartime bedtime prayers included: 'God bless my soldier uncles, God bless my sailor uncles, God bless my airman uncles - and bring them all safely home'