Remembrance Day Memories

I remember the Prime Minister's grim words on the radio - “We are at War!”
I recall my mother's irrational fear, which, at 16, I was too young to understand.
I remember the blackout - darkened windows; Walking in total darkness
With a glimmering flashlight which we were only permitted to shine at our feet.
Being required to carry a gas mask and tin hat to work every day, or not being allowed in.

I remember rationing - shortages and coupon books; children growing up
Having never seen a banana; oranges and all tropical fruit very scarce,
(My older brother once bought one peach as a gift for his fianceé).
Bread and potatoes were our staple food. Regular diet - Spam sandwiches!

I remember young men called up from jobs or schooling, some never to return.
Offices staffed with only women. Young women uprooted from homes
And employment for War service, or work in an “essential industry.”
I remember fire watching duties, at work and at home; stirrup pumps, incendiary bombs
And Air Raid Wardens. Anderson Air Raid Shelters sunk in the back garden;
Cold and usually half filled with water and/or mud.

I remember sirens in the middle of the night followed by the sound of planes overhead.
We listened anxiously to ascertain whether they were “ours” or “theirs.”
I remember the unmanned V2 rockets and how we listened with bated breath
We were safe as long as they could be heard but when silence came, we ducked!
Then there was the chattering of Anti-aircraft guns and the fall of shrapnel.

I remember all the red tape at the office due to war restrictions
That made everything so much more difficult and complicated.
I remember Winston Churchill's sombre tones and his stentorian pronouncements
Such as “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

I remember churches filled with desperately praying people, prayer meetings in homes,
Rooms filled with anxious folk seeking God's help and protection.
I remember my lost youth; my fatherless home; an invalid mother; No fun, only work
And responsibilities. But I gained a deeper understanding and awareness
Of the preciousness of life. And best of all, during those difficult years,
My first knowledge of God, through Jesus Christ.

I remember the horrors of war; Perhaps it will take another period of such suffering and fear to
bring people to their senses - and their knees.
But I pray it will never come to that - Lest We Forget!

Honoria A. Groves, 1993