University of Oxford
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Childhood Memories of a Goodbye to Father and Wartime Life at Home

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 17:34 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My Dad was in Bomber Command during the War, as a navigator. He was trained in South Africa and then stationed at RAF QUASTINA Middle East Forces no.61. Then he was sent to Africa.

One day my mother was making strawberry jam. There was a knock on the door and my mother could see a policeman's helmet through the glass. She panicked. I was about four or five. The policeman told us that my father was going to go abroad the following week. He was billeted in Manchester at the time. My mother went across the road to my grandmother's, Granny came and finished making the jam and me and Mum immediately caught the train to London, then boarded a troop train from London to Manchester. It was full of soldiers, some of them wounded. They opened their sandwiches, corned beef again! I was very hungry!

When we got to Manchester it was dark. We went to my father's billet. No-one came to the door and my mother threw stones up at the window. One of the airmen leant out of the window and called to my father, "Syd, your wife and daughter are outside."

My dad wasn't pleased to see us! We stayed with him until he left on the troop ship.

After he left Dad kept a diary - all he had to write in was a Recognition Handbook of German Aircraft. He kept the diary for 8 weeks - the full length of the voyage to Africa.

He wrote when he could and it was important to him to get letters. The whole history of my childhood is in the letters my mother and I wrote to him.

I lived in Olive Avenue during 1943. The army were billeted in the houses where people had moved to the country. My mum would do their washing and they dug the back and front gardens. Mum grew tomatoes and potatoes.

Once, coming home from West Leigh School I fell and cut my knee. A soldier cleaned it and plastered it. I played hopscotch on the pavement with them.

I went to the public air raid shelter in Sutherland Boulevard. My mum would take me in the middle of the night. One night it was very starry. Mr. Davis the baker was there. The doctor's helper, Ruby , was the ARP warden.

My granny lived opposite me but kept the coal in her shelter so there was no room for us.


Item list and details

1. Photo of Hubert S. Lennard in uniform and in 2009 on Canvey 2. Air School Flight dinner 1944 3 and 4 Silk map of France 5. Tent photo-Middle East 6. Identification Card 7. Photo of Bomber Crew 8 and 9 RAF Service and Release Book 10. Recognition Handbook of German Aircraft 11. Aerial photograph 12 and 13 Letters between Maureen and her father 14-20 Transcription of Ship's Journal

Person the story/items relate to

Hubert Sydney Lennard

Person who shared the story/items

Maureen Lennard-Brown

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was her father

Type of submission

Shared at Hadleigh Library, Suffolk on 4 November 2023. Organised by Hadleigh Castle u3a.

Record ID

99917 | HAD001