A man confessed to the local priest, “Father, during the war I allowed a Jewish refugee to live in my attic.”
The priest replied, “There’s nothing wrong with helping a poor soul survive the war.”
“But Father, I collected rent from him for every week that he stayed.”
The priest said, “Well that’s not a good deed, but it was for a good cause so that’s fine.”
“But Father, should I tell him the war is over?”
Remembrance Day is also over, nevertheless I want to share the first hand account of WWII memories relayed by two Kindersley residents. Pauline Ament, aged 93 years, lived in Kent, England during the war years, and Pearl Martin, aged 94 years, resided in Cornwall, England.
“Wherever we went we had to carry a gas mask with us, to school, everywhere.” she said. “Evacuees from London were sent by the train load to Cornwall. We had to take as many children as we had room for.”
Pauline’s memories in Kent were vivid. “We were ten miles from London and were known as bomber alley because the German bombers came over from France, and if they couldn’t get over to London, they would drop their bombs on us before going back. We were bombed out of our first house when I was 12 years old,” Pauline explained.
“We took shelter in the cupboard under the stairs – me, my six-year-old brother, my mom, a girl from next door, and our dog. It wasn’t a direct hit, but it wiped out 240 houses. It was absolutely horrifying!”
“The Red Cross found us a place to stay in a suite. My dad was a captain in the merchant navy, and he got compassionate leave for a week to help us. The ship he should have gone out on was mined and not one man lived.” Pauline said.
“Our school was machine gunned one lunch time, and our school was a mess, with windows broken out,” she said. “One of our head mistresses at school had two little boys come on the school grounds saying, ‘Look Miss! Look what we found!’. One little boy had a bomb in each hand, and they were live.” Pauline remembered how the boy was absolutely terrified when he found out what he was holding, and the teacher took them from him, quietly disposed of them in a garbage can, and called the fire brigade who came and decimated them.
Pauline continued to tell her story. “When I was 16 I joined air raid precaution. I’d go out on my bike at night and shrapnel would be dinging on my helmet. It was scary, but I had to go. One Saturday the planes came over and a bomb was dropped on the lunch counter. Afterwards I had to stay in the morgue and wait for people to identify body parts that were brought in on enamel trays. It was terrifying! You never really get over that.” she added.
Both Pauline and Pearl agreed that the only good thing about the war was that they met their husbands-to-be, but Pearl recalled, “My mother said it was the worst thing that ever happened because I married him and came to Canada.”
“When it ended, it was elation like you couldn’t believe! It seemed an impossibility!” Pauline concluded.
This is a small glimpse into the bravery of those who were forcibly caught up in battle.
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