St Albans folk recall dark days of war

PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 June 2010

Simple artime pleasures :Valerie Robertson (second from right) with her family at their Station House home in St Albans

Simple artime pleasures :Valerie Robertson (second from right) with her family at their Station House home in St Albans

Archant

WHEN Carolyn Keeble was a youngster she flew from Malta to Egypt and then went by train to South Africa to escape bombing. Just as she sailed back to the UK Jeff Welch was leaving to serve in the British Army in Japan but the Allies dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and he ended up in India instead.

These are just two of the stories from the Memories of World War 2 exhibition mounted for local schools but open to the public on Saturday, June 19.

St Luke’s Sharing Stories Group has been meeting since 2005 and has this year been concentrating on the Second World War.

Author Claire Harvey, who has been collating the memories, said: “The group’s recollections of schooldays, of rationing, even of being bombed, are crystal clear, so they’ve been writing and recording them for posterity.”

The exhibition will bring together the stories, photographs and WW2 objects that the members still have – possibly including a bomb!

Member Dilys Hudson, of Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans, who still has an original air-raid shelter in her garden said: “Some of us have old gas masks in our attics and one or two of us still have air-raid shelters in our gardens.”

Valerie Robertson of Longacre, St Albans, is including a photograph of her family doing a jigsaw puzzle at their then home in the Station House on what is now Orient Close, St Albans. Valerie is pictured second on the right.

Carole Sharp, one of the organisers, said: “It’s vital to pass the memories on so that the children get a feeling for their heritage. Although we’ve been talking about a trying time in our history, we’ve had quite a laugh and sometimes it’s been so animated that we’ve all been talking at once.”

The project has been judged to be so valuable that the Government-run Transformation Fund has awarded it a £4,300 grant to cover expenses. This enabled the group to buy a digital tape recorder to capture all those memories, and buy some stands for the exhibition.

The exhibition is open to the public from 10.30am to 2pm at St Luke’s Church in Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans. Admission is free.

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