Me and my Gal

Toni Arthur-Hay interviews…

Arthur & Maureen Maynard

From the outbreak of the Second World War, a total war, both civilians and men in uniform shared the dangers and hardships. Two million people privately took themselves out of the hazards of the cities and a further 1,473,000 people were evacuated, in just three days, to places of relative safety.
What's this got to do with Village Life? Well, not everyone left. Some lived through the rigours of the action and only found their Norfolk paradise in later years. People like the Maynards of Church Lane, Northwold.
Maureen was only a little tot during the war living in Canning Town, London. Arthur, her husband, was nine when it began and stayed in Camden Town. They both have vivid memories of those days.
'When the air raid warning went off' Maureen remembers, ' we had to rush to the shelter in our back garden and sit there. My mum had put curtains up across the door in ours and it was all neat and tidy and we even had a stove in there. A proper home from home with beds, chairs and candles, you know.'
How many people used it? 'Well there was my brother, my mum, my mum's sister from across the road, me and my Dad  - when he was not working for the Home Guard. You'd sit there and hear the droning of the doodlebugs (unmanned flying bombs - the V-1) as they came over. Then you'd hear one of them stop, and you didn't know whether it was going to fall on you or somebody else. Then when the explosion went off you knew it hadn't fallen on you. And you were happy about that but sorry for the other people who'd got it.'
What about Arthur, did he remember the war? ' Oh, Christ, yeah! Mind you when someone said there was going to be a war I was only 9, and we was all so thick then we didn't know what it meant. We just wanted to get on with our lives. Never took much notice of it. More interested in playing I suppose.' Arthur was the eldest of seven children. His father was in the King's Royal Rifles and his mum had a job cleaning the carriages out at King's Cross station. So, what happened if the sirens went off and his parents were out?
'I had to get down to Camden Town tube station. We used to have an old pram, and I'd chuck all the kids in and run 'em down there. You could hear the shrapnel* falling behind you and hitting the pavements as you ran along.' 'Everyone used to pack in. Blimey, there were fleas

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