At school, Sam is studying World War 2 and, in particular, the evacuation of children to places of safety.
So, on arriving
home today from our trip to Wales, I know what one of my first “jobs” must be. I’m rummaging through the cupboard in the study / third bedroom to find copies of “War and Me” – also known as Mum’s Book.
I've promised to send some copies to Sam so that he can take them in to show his teacher.
Yes, indeed, this is Dolly I am talking about, the same Dolly who is
entertaining many of you with her entries in “Dolly’s Blog.” What you might not know is that she is a published author, with “War and Me” gracing several collections of war literature. "War and Me" is the story of One
Woman's War. It's a bit sketchy on dates and places but it speaks volumes about what it was like to be alone, with children, on the Home Front.
There is one particular
passage in “War and Me” which I need to highlight for my Not-So-Little Welsh Boy. It’s the story of my brother Tony who went with his mother on a strange voyage by bus and by boat to Felixstowe and then on to Woodbridge in Suffolk.
“Tony was a quiet little boy, I expect he was very puzzled and I just cuddled him a lot and tried to make it into an adventure,” Dolly writes.
One of the other women being evacuated
with her had four young children, one of them just a baby. “At bedtime she had the children washed and settled down with no trouble at all, as though it was the most normal thing in the world, to go on an unknown journey then sleep on a wooden floor
on a pile of straw.” I am pretty sure that Sam, the Story-teller, will be able to picture that little family and it will help his understanding of that far off time.
Over dinner one evening, we had all tried to decide what the parents of today would do, faced with a mass evacuation programme in the face of great danger. It’s almost impossible, isn’t it, to imagine how people would feel and react. I
can only repeat what my Mum wrote: “I did not feel happy at leaving Len (her husband and Tony’s father) but results from war were not known at that time. We both loved Tony so much we only thought of him and gas attacks were a frightening thought.”
Leaving Young ‘Uns, even in peace time, isn’t easy. Last night, I was shepherding the two Bigger Boys into bed, telling them about their Auntie Anne
who, when she was even smaller than they are now, used to ask every night to be “tucked in a hole” – that is, to have the bedclothes tightly wrapped around her. I can only think it made her feel safe, warm, protected. Both James and Sam decided,
forthwith, that they, too, needed to be “tucked into holes”. Auntie Anne is quite a favourite at the moment, having bought James for his birthday one of the Gups they were missing from their Octonaut collection. If it’s good enough
for Auntie Anne, then it’s good enough for them, is their unspoken verdict.
“Will you be here tomorrow?” asks Sam, though he already knows
the answer because we have had the Next Time I See You conversation. Regretfully I shake my head and give him another hug. “You could always have another sleepover?” suggests James. Oh I wish, I wish.
I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for those wartime parents, sending their Young Ones off into the unknown, fearful that they might never see them again. I will be back
in Wales very soon for a “Nanna Visit” – but I still feel as if I have left a great chunk of my heart down there.
Fortunately for me, and for my heart, I am quite sure that I
can rely on the boys to keep it safe, warm and protected till I see them again.
Tucked in a hole...