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Thank you, Brewood

More than 70 years on, Choice reader Peter Couzins says a belated but heartfelt thank you to the village that welcomed him as an evacuee

The year was 1939. It was Sunday, September 3 and I was eight years old. We had all been issued with gas masks, and each house was also given an Anderson shelter; this had to be partially buried in the garden, away from the house, and covered in soil. It had four slatted bunks, two either side, one above the other. The air-raid sirens had numerous tests, and were now silent. We knew that the next time they sounded it would be the signal that we were now at war with Nazi Germany. At 11am on this Sunday the sirens sounded – we were at war.

I was living in Garlinge, a small village on the outskirts of Margate, with my father, brother and two sisters all older than me. My mother had died of cancer when I was 15 months old, so I had been living in a foster home until just before starting school, when an aunt (my mother’s sister) came to live with us to look after our family. The Depression was just about over and my father was back working full-time as a bricklayer.

Very little seemed to be happening in the war, and it was referred to as the Phoney War. The Germans then invaded Belgium and France and the Allied troops were pushed back into a small part of France around Dunkirk. A big operation was launched – called Dynamo – to get as many service personnel as possible back to England.

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