Life Stories

Joan Page


Born in East London

Joan has been a client of ours for 4 years, she is a lovely lady with a real lust for life.  She fondly looks back to her younger days;

Joan remembers back to when the war started; she was five years old.   The memories of the air raids in the war are still quite vivid.  Joan’s mother was a warden for her street; her job was to ensure that the older people in the area were able to get into the shelters.  When the alarms sounded, Joan’s grandmother took her to the shelter with her brother.   She can remember spending many hours and nights sleeping in fear.

Joan and her younger brother were evacuated to Peterborough from their East London home.  It was obviously a scary time for a girl under 7, as she was responsible for her brother Billy.  Joan can remember being dressed as smartly as possible to attract the right family to look after them.  Their mother had bought them new coats and they sat in the Peterborough Schoolhouse, gas masks in hand, waiting for a family to take them in. Joan had been told by her mother that the pair were not to be separated; they both hoped they would not.

Two people approached them and asked their names and where they were from.  The couple took a shine to the two East-enders and decided to take them in.  Joan and Billy were very fortunate; the couple treated the pair like their own children, although they were not fortunate enough to have any.  Joan had very fond memories of this time.  Although they missed their parents, life in the countryside was a great new adventure.

Joan’s father was in the army during the war.  He was unfortunately taken as a prisoner of war in Germany and then in Italy.  It was an extremely worrying time for the family whilst Joan’s father was a POW.  They were obviously very excited to hear the news of his release at the end of the war.  He was released from Italy to Holland, where he was able to make use of the local shops.  Joan can still remember the silk dress and umbrella that he brought home as gifts.

After a stop in Holland, her father returned home, much to the family’s relief.  They had put up a banner and the street had a big party for all the local lads’ return. In true 1940s style, there was a bonfire, music and everyone in the street was there.

Joan can still clearly remember seeing her father again for the first time.  She was extremely shocked that the cockney soldier, who had left them several years earlier, was now very well spoken.

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