2021 Remembering

Rev Charles Meachin's Memories

Memories from 3 September 1939 by Poole's oldest living mayor the Rev. Charles Meachin.

I remember

On September 3rd 1939 at 11 am

with Mum, Dad and little sister

huddling round our two-valve crackly radio to hear the Prime Minister Chamberlain tell us in his anxious tones 'this country is at war with Germany'.

I remember

fitting black out curtains on every window; street lights were switched off, car and bicycle lamps shielded.

I remember

being evacuated with my sister, put on a train with a gas mask, a food parcel, tin of corn beef, can of Libby's milk and a bar of chocolate, transported back to Matlock and allocated to the Vicar of Bonsall and his wife, taken to the vicarage to be looked after, stayed 4 weeks! Back to Manchester and the blitz.

I remember

no schooling for 8 months

I remember

Dad recounting his experiences as a soldier in the Manchester Pals telling us about life in the Somme in 1914.

two soldiers recently rescued from Dunkirk staying with us for a few days until they were able to re-join their regiment.

I remember

the Manchester blitz. We spent each night in an Anderson shelter. A hole in our garden covered with earth on a corrugated tin roof; four bunks, a candle, pipe oil stove, condensed breath dripping from the roof. Listening for the whine of bombs, hoping they would miss our home.

I remember

working a foot operated stirrup pump as Dad dealt with small incendiary bombs.

I remember

a decade and a half of rationing.

2oz. sugar, 2oz butter, bacon, tea, a few sweets, one shilling and sixpenny worth of meat, jam, biscuits, cheese, breakfast cereals, eggs, lard, milk, canned and dried fruit, clothing coupons, some coal and paraffin.

I remember

dark blacked out smoggy raining nights walking home.

I remember

watching an aerial 'dog fight' as a Spitfire chased two Messerschmitt's in the sky of Manchester.

I remember

good folk who risked their lives in the armed and civil services; acts of heroism,; neighbours, who with acts of kindness made life easy for others.

I remember

sprivs, crooks, hoarders and black market under-the-counter dealers selfishly profiteering at the expense of ordinary honest folk.

I remember

neighbours taking chocolates and cigarettes to German prisoners 'camped' in huts erected behind our local cinema.

I remember

seeing the newsreels of Richard Dimbleby

entering the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

I remember

VE Day

listening to the radio late May 7 1945

we heard the news flash announcing that Germany had surrendered and the war in Europe had ended. Tomorrow would be Victory in Europe Day a national holiday.

On May 8th Prime Minister Churchill making a national radio broadcast welcoming the news that the war had ended, adding a note of caution 'we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead'


Reflection

World War Two fundamentally transformed Britain and the World; education, health and social care, social structures, governance, travel, communication, technology, industrial processes, art, scientific and medical advances. The present sinister war on an invisible enemy, Coronavirus has already begun to inexorably and dramatically transform our world and our way of life, the months ahead of isolation, illness, stress, restriction, worry, bereavement will indeed 'transform the world'.

My hope and prayer for our grandchildren and Harriet, Matilda and Reuben our three great grandchildren and for all the children of the World is for:

Peace, Healing, Unity and Love.

May we all willingly engage in the

'toil and efforts that lie ahead'

- Charles Meachin

23rd March 2020