This is my aunts story ( Joan Punter, nee Toller )- as she wrote it- March 2005.
I was born in 1940 so war was a normal state of affairs for me and my sister. The family ( grannie, aunts, uncles and cousin ) all lived in Oxford Road Cambridge. My father was away fighting the war in France, in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Uncle Bill was in the Fire Service and Uncle George was in the R.A.F. so men in uniform was normal. Uncle Russ and Uncle Arthur worked away some of the time in munitions, so ours was a world of women.
We grew our own veg and salad, kept the allotment going to help Bill, with chickens and pigs to feed. We made our own clothes often and baked cakes and pies.
Nights were spent sleeping under the air-raid metal ) table, surrounded by wire mesh on a red cross blanket. We had an Anderson shelter in the garden, which was cosy but cold and damp. e also went in the cubord under the stairs when the siren went, and took it in turns to sit on the gas meter! Luckily for us the bombers which came over Cambridge usually headed up north to bomb our factories which made munitions, but I remember the sickening siren sound, followed by bombs exploding. My daddy was driving these baddies away, and he later told us how he came back from Dunkirk with bombs dropping all around and near their boat. He kept saying " Please God get me home to my wife and children."
I was five when it ended, and all I remember then was red, white and blue everywhere, street parties, and best of all a new baby brother! ( Sadly I had friends whose daddy never came home as ours did.)
Joan ( nee Toller )
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie to her husband George Cruden. ( both now deceased. )
In several of these letter Marie refers to George as Peter Precious- as she was a Catholic from Ireland and didn't want to introduce him to her family as George ( the English kings name) she called him Peter.
Saturday the 25th April. [c. 1941]
138. Harrow Road.
My Dearest and Best
was pleased to get your letter this morning, of course, and was unhappy at the thought of London being in such a terrible state. Fancy the Shell Mex House being down- heavens what a crash that must have been, and they had super-shelters under there to. Whenever is all this awful destruction going to stop. Jerry seems to get every damn thing his way, and the powers that be do not seem at all capable of being able to relise what to do about it. Its to be hoped there are no Quislings in the government or in Offices. The falling back from North Africa, and gradually being chucked out again from Greece is worrying me very much.
More so, when ther seems to be no effort on the part of the Government to explain it - and poor old General Wavel is thrown aside now for someone else. It seem preposterous that such a thing could be done after the galant and brilliant achievement in getting his troops to the north in that record time. I have said, and I still maintain, that he was not backed up with either munitions or men to hold those places and to have allowed Jerry to have landed in such hugh numbers and at such speed, is surely where someone is grossly at fault. The watch was not strict enough obviously, and even though troopcarriers were used to a great extent, ther was surely some means either from the Navy or the airforce there to have prevented to a very great degree. It worries me terribly. They are nearer now and look very much to me as though we shall be bottled up between the Meditteranean and the Suez. The Conservative Government have been traitorous without a doubt. Either their ambassadors or Agents have not been doing their job properly, but letting the Germans filter through all our possessions in a disgraceful manner, or on the other hand the government have been warned by their representations in other countries, but they have not chosen to take any notice of them but adopted the attitude that our financial resources could achive anything which they ( the government ) chose to bribe or act on. The most recent glaring instance of this, is the trouble in the Iraqi district. How come they to allow a coup d'etat to come off if they were so anxious to watch the Oil pipe line. And a rebel to be in charge there? Can you answer me that?
My word, you boy, if you were anywhere about, I reckon you'd say "hold your nagging row for goodness sake, girl I Don't know write Winston Churchill" Well, and belive me I'm so utterly fed up with the mismanagement of affairs that I feel I'd do that too!!!!!
Ha.... Well, that's off me chest, so now I'll proceed with the business of this letter. ahem!!!!
Oh, grateful thanks for the parcel!!!! Everything is just exactly what the doctor ordered. Hope you got my letter of yesterday with the P.O. in. Do hope you have not quite spun out, love, did you get paid yesterday? Could you do with a little more dough? Don't empty the post office treasury.
I was extreamly interested to read how you spent your day's work. You do not seem to have such a harassing time as at Hatfield. Nice to know you have the same officers, and not such a long day in working for them. However, do please take care of yourself, and for goodness sake R E S T - got that?, rest a bit, and dont go careering round sight seeing. Fancy Waller Road looking so forlorn and damaged like that. Its awful to think about.
Now look, here young man, what on earth am I to do with the following returns:-
1/12 scarves?????????????? which I didnt knit anyhow??????
Sorry but our credit department is now closed, but if you wish us to return in your next parcel, we will give same our very best and undivided attention, thanking you for past favors, trusting you are, as we are at present, we remain.... Oh dear I have just been doing some letters for Smithy, and quite forgot. By the way, he's got the job he applied for at the Midland Bank here, so now we are waiting to see the sparks fly,
Well please dont faint, but we're going to the pictures this afternoon. I asked Mrs W if she would like to come, and then Guy said she would also, so we are going to see "All this and Heaven too" sounds quite etheral, but have heard it is good. Hope I don't have a good cry and come out with a fat head - you remember how I used to, when we had been to see "a good picture"
Well, love, its just noon, so I want to get this off to you to-day.
Well, cheerio, darling, all my love, kisses and everything else, and keep to the country side. Darling.
ever your own little wiff.
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