Tuesday, 11 March 2014

I Remember Where I Was...

When war was declared
we were waiting for it:
Auntie Clarrie’s living room,
cousins and grown-ups round the wireless.
We’d been waiting a long time,
speculation and rumour.
Hitler’s tanks were made of cardboard.

On a country walk with cousins
Grandad told us if it came
they’d call it a World War;
Cynthia said it could be European.
Sure enough it came,
but through no sudden surprise attack,
Just a long slow slithering into war.

When Holland was invaded –
along with Belgium, Luxembourg –
I went with mum to a small-room,
one-woman hairdresser where
they spoke about it quietly.
It sounded serious but to me
just another step of many.

When Sicily was invaded
I heard about it from women
in the queue for buns and sausage.
We’d been sent that Saturday morning,
knowing there’d be something special.
Sicily wasn’t so special though.
Not Italy, then?” “No, Sicily.”

When D-day landings hit the beaches
our geography teacher chalked
the Cherbourg peninsula on the blackboard,
drew arrows to suggest
which way the 2nd Front would go.
We’d waited for that day, too –
never doubted which way it would go.

When victory came in Europe
we wondered, was tomorrow
the promised day off work?
We decided yes and stayed home.
No memories of bells, dancing in the streets,
but soon after came V.J. Day
which I spent playing cricket in the sun.

Stuart Randall

This poem is from Stuart Randall's latest collection "Growing Up in Wartime" and he still has a few copies at £5 (10% goes to WarChild). Ring Stuart on 01246 270533.

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