In honour of Remembrance Day, we spoke to our residents on their experiences during World War 2 and their memories.
An unforgettable Birthday
At Mill View we had a Discussion with a resident and his family about their memories of their time during the war. Our resident told us about his 13th birthday in Cwmparc and how he had more than just a birthday cake that day. After a day of fun he went to bed but not long after his mum came in explaining that the German planes were flying over, and to get up out of bed to find safety.
During this time a lot of families would use under the stairs to hide until the sirens stopped or as we call it the Cwtch. But the Brave curious little boy he was went outside to see what all the fuss was about. He explained all the men and boys were outside seeing what was happening. He felt excited to see the planes and wondered what was going to happen. They went down the street to see the damage the bombs had caused and how they could help. As they went down the streets they could see the impact of the German bombs that were aiming for the miner’s colliery and houses. He could see the miners running up from the pits to check on their families with worried looks on their faces. The miners faces were half clean, half covered in dirt from the mines with a look of worry, our residents excitement soon turned into concern. He could see that some of the houses were destroyed and people were hurt, including evacuees. Later he found out that many evacuees that tried to get away from the danger of war lost their lives where they were supposed to be safe in the countryside.
Bringing distant family together
Our resident’s wife explained that she heard the bombing in Cwmparc from where she lived in Gelli on that day. The resident’s wife then told us about her experience of when she was around 9 years old and two of her distant relatives came to live with her from near Dover. They came from Dover to live in a nearby village. But when her father found out that the two little boys were their distant family living with friends. Her father and brother cycled to the house where the boys were staying and explained that due to the family connection they would be happy to take them in as their own. The two little boys stayed with her and the family for 4 years while the war was going on in a 3 bedroom house. She had her room, her brother had his room the two little boys shared a room sleeping on bunk beds while her parents slept in the room downstairs. She explained when they all went in the Cwtch during the bombing it was tight squeeze but they were safe and that was the main thing. When the war ended the boys went back to their family when it was safe but she would never forget them staying with her. After all family have to stick together.
Finding love during the War
I work at Mill View and even though I am only 28 years old if it was not for the war. I would not have been here to tell my families story today. My grandmother named Marion was originally from east London where she lived with her family of 9. When the war broke out my gran and her siblings were sent to South Wales, at the time she was only 6 years old. She was told by her mum to look after her baby sister who was still little and in a gas mask cot. My gran at the time did not have much room in the cabin with all her siblings. So she had a great idea, she would put her baby sister with the luggage. After all she was safe in the cot and it would be quiet for the baby to sleep, checking often her little sister was safe. During her time here she grew up and decided she lived in Wales long enough she would stay here. She got a job working at Porth textiles factory where they made Christmas decorations and ribbons. During this time she met my grandfather and they got to know each other chatting in the break room and by the Christmas works party in 1957 they were quite fond of one another. They became in separable and a couple of years later got married and started a family. So if it was not for the war my grandparents could never have met and my dad would not have been born to have me. So even though the war was a horrible time it created a family.
Elisabeth Hitchings ( Betty )
I was a wren which is also known as a radio mechanic when the convoys came to Northern Ireland and they rested in between trips, they sent the plane into the shore base for repair. My brother Richard was a fighter pilot, he went to America to train and stayed for 6 months as an instructor to train others. He went to Italy to fight, he was a good pilot but sadly he had crashed. My second brother Jack was in the army but transferred to the para troops. Jack was also based in north America. They came back to England to train for the invasion of Europe they were in the wrong place and they were captured by the Germans.
I don’t remember much about the war, I was about 14/16 years old when WWII happened, I worked in the ministry of agriculture and was courting a beautiful man who later became my husband Rex Reynolds. My husband served in the air force during WWII but was taken capture and was a prisoner of war for 3 and a half years during the battle, he was held captive and when he was released he didn’t like to talk about what had happened to him. My sister-in-law Jean severed in the WAAF which was a woman’s auxiliary air force which was established in 1939 but in 1943 over 2,000 women enlisted per week. Rex and myself were married in 1947 and lived a happy life but I will never forget the feelings and emotions I felt when he was taken a prisoner of war, those days will always stay with me.
Here’s Jenny James from our Cwrt Enfys care home. Her husband was a soldier who was injured at war and sadly passed away a week after he returned home. Jenny never remarried as she believes he was her only love.
Jenny was a WAF and watched planes to alert residents to take shelter. She misses her husband but glad to living a wonderful life with her incredible family and friends by her side who she loves dearly.
Our very brave Mr David John remembering his time serving in the second world war and some special mementos of that time and attending a local remembrance parade a few years ago.
Fantastic poppy display created by some of our Ladies at Ty Nant.