When the war ended 14



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Hey Dad! Why is that man coming down the road with a long pole over his shoulder? Oh, he’s stopped at the street lamp across the road from our house and now he’s sticking his pole up through the glass box on the top and … Wow, now the light’s come on! That’s the first time I’ve seen that light come on, ever. Is that because the war’s just finished Dad, and we don’t have to have black-out any more? Gosh, I’ll be able to go out and play at night now won’t I – me and my friends will be able to use the lamp base as a wicket just like we used to in the daytime, but we’ll be flood-lit from now on. That will be fun!

Hey Mum! Look at all those sweets and chocolate bars in that shop window. Did you ever see so many sweets? Can I have my pocket money now instead of Saturday, then I can go in here and buy myself some … What do you mean, they’re still rationed?! Can I have my coupons as well then? Crikey, what do you want to use them for sugar and all that stuff for? Sweets would be lots more fun than that sort of thing. Ah, come on Mum, please! Please, please, please!

Mum! Wait for me, I can’t find my way home without you!

Hey Sis! What’s that you have in that little bag? Nylons! What are they? Where did you get them anyway, I’ve never seen anything like that in the shops? What d’you mean, an American soldier gave them to you – why did he do that? What do you do with nylons? Oh, I see they’re sort of girl’s socks, but longer and thinner. Won’t they get holes in them if they’re that thin – I don’t think I’d want to wear anything like that, I’d get in a great mess trying to climb through hedges or play football with things like that on! You girls really are strange!

Hey Dave! Let’s go round the back lanes and see if there’s still some shrapnel lying about. I know there haven’t been any air raids for a couple of years now, but you never know what we might find. Reggie, down the road told me yesterday that he found a nose-cone just outside his back gate last week. He showed it to me and it was super! I wish I could find something like that. I bet you could sell a nose cone to a collector for a lot of money – it might even be worth a pound or more. Let’s go down here and see what we can find.

Hey Mr Davies! Now that the war is over, does that mean we don’t need to bring our gas masks to school every day anymore? Mine’s not much cop now anyway. I left it outside one night a couple of months ago when it was raining and all the rubber is sort of perishing now. Good job I didn’t have to use it!

Hey Mr Postman! Why do you call here twice a day? It’s lovely to get our post so quick, but most of it could wait until tomorrow, surely. Dad says you doing this costs us an extra penny or more on every letter and that’s a lot of money – nearly a quarter of my pocket money!

Hey Mr Johnson! I love watching you pour the milk into those nice clean bottles, with that ladle thing you hang on the side of the big churn. And how do you manage to get the cardboard top on the bottle so quickly, without spilling any milk? Your thumb must be very sore by the end of the day! Gee, you must be a very clever man – do you go and get the milk from the cow, before you bring it to our front door. It tastes so good too, all creamy!

Hey Dad! What’s that big wooden box you’ve brought home? The one with a sort of small glass window in the front? And why does it have a wire coming out of the back? Does it plug in to the electric for some reason? It’s a television! What’s that? What, do you mean it’s like radio, but with pictures as well? Gosh, I can’t wait to see that!

Hey Mum! Aren’t there a lot of exciting things happening, now that the war is over! Do you think there’ll be any other things going on in the future. I can’t imagine what could happen that would be better than all this stuff that’s going on now! I should think that everything that can happen has happened by now!


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Brian Lee

  1. I remember shopping with the ration books well into the 50s.

    1 REPLY
    • I remember going all the way to the shop on my own for mum and being sent back as I she hadn’t given me the necessary coupons..

  2. We lived on the beach front 200 metres down from no 43 Catalina Squadron and the noise they made 24/7. I also remember moving to Townsville in early 47 and sitting on the seat on the cross bar of my father’s bicycle as he and my mother wandered around the builds in the pool area the Yanks had left behind. That’s where all of the building materials came from to build our house. On my 5th birthday I got a bicycle because I was big enough to ride my own bike when we went out. Very few cars in those days. That’s when the adventure really began. B|

  3. Remember mum sacrificing a sugar coupon to buy me a lollipop. Must have been late forties as it sticks in my mind and must have been a special treat at the time.

  4. I was born c 1940 so as a 5 year old remember mum still using ration books even here in Australia. Our mum ran a small country post office and l was promised the blunt ended scissors were mine when coupons were finished.have never forgotten those scissors.also we were made underwear out of a silk parrachute.

  5. In the south of England where many airfields were and camps we copped a lot of bombing ,lots of evacuees stayed on and settled as they had nothing to go back to. Rationing lasted until the mid 50s so everything was expensive and in short supply.

  6. Good grief! No! I wasn’t born until 1948. I do however remember my father suffering from depression and he also had a very short fuse!
    He died when I was nine and my cousin,(who lived with us,) were both secretly relieved. I know, its horrible but thats children for you.

  7. Same memories as Wendy, my special one was, the local corner store got some chewing gum in, we begged and begged our Mum and she finally gave in, best thing I ever tasted, todays’ kids would faint if they had to go without all their goodies, we were very happy and our Mums were super managers, when you think of all the things you could not buy, hats off to all the Mums who got families through the war, herorins one and all.

  8. My only memories of the sixties growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland were the vast amount of sweets, lollies you could buy

  9. What a lovely evocative piece,Brian,seeing post war through the eyes of a child,you! I’d forgotten the cardboard lids on the milk! I do remember literally running all the way with Mum, to the Co-op when word got out there was a shipment of butter from NZ. We were in an Army Camp in South Africa,and I don’t know why,but they still used to practice with the air raid siren and search lights in 51?! I used to love the sound of the Spitfires lazily circling the camp,and the shock of the show off jet fighter pilots who broke the sound barrier,along with every window in the camp:-)

  10. I remember having my first ice cream, like it was yesterday. around 1944.
    At the time, the Ramsgate baths in Sydney also had a menagerie that included monkeys.
    I was in mums arms & we were looking at the Monkeys & one of them grabbed my ice cream.
    I literally exploded with anger. It’s probably the reason it’s so vivid.
    I’m sure until the day she passed away, Mum probably blamed that monkey for my old bad temper.

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