Year 3 were thrilled to listen to Mr Bernard Gray, Eloise’s Grandfather, telling us about his experiences of WW2. The children asked questions and we learnt many different facts and got a sense of what it must have been like to live through the war.
In 1944 he was evacuated to Devon, and was lucky enough to have only been away from his family for a short spell of time. He remembers his father taking him down to Devon and also coming to visit him at the home. He doesn’t remember the people he stayed with, so he feels that they must have been nice, because it was far more likely if they hadn’t been he would have remembered!
One of his most vivid memories is going down to the beach in Devon and seeing the barbed wire emplacements lying low along the beach.
Before he was evacuated he clearly recalls sleeping in Anderson shelters, and how, when it rained the floor would be flooded. He also experienced sleeping underground train platforms. This was no fun either, not only were they very crowded but the platform it always felt you were trying to sleep in a draught!
There were many sounds during war time that you had to be really aware of; the sound of the piercing siren, the V1 doddle bomb and the distinctly different sound of the V2 bombs.
The children carefully handled a model of a V1 that Mr Gray had carved himself and a replica of an incendiary bomb. He remembered that his home had been struck by an incendiary bomb, but fortunately it had rolled off the roof and onto the path where it exploded! The children also had a chance to look at a naval compass which had been used during WW2.
Mr Gray spoke about how food and clothes were rationed. He felt fortunate that his family were able to cultivate a vegetable patch so that they could supplement their food. They also kept chickens so they were lucky to have more eggs! You could also get seagulls eggs during the war – which were horrible and tasted very fishy!
Mr Gray told the children had not had a sweet until he was about 9 or 10! The children found this unbelievable, underlining Mr Gray’s feeling when he said to everyone “Freedom is something that we all take for granted. We can have whatever we want, when we want it now, which is something we don’t even think about.”
The children found the real-life experiences of Mr Gray fascinating and they were really interested. It was wonderful to have the opportunity of listening to someone who had experienced what it was like to live during this turbulent time.