Uncle Ronnie was in the Air Force during the war so Aunty Freda and my cousin Pauline (six weeks older than me) lived at our Gran’s house. Housing was in very short supply and they continued to live there after the war for a few years, with two more additions to the family; Mari born 1943 and Janice born 1945. After the war they were given a small prefab house on the Thorntree Estate.

Dad, who was deemed unfit for military service, worked on the wharf and Uncle Jimmy was a fireman. Uncle Teddy was in the army and relatives were not informed of the location of army units, so Uncle Teddy’s movements were a mystery.

Mam and Dad were just finishing their late Sunday breakfast when Maudie Sergeant burst excitedly through the front door. Maudie, the local gossip, had a boy and girl the same age as me and Tommy, and lived over the road. She was short and thin and wore a long faded dress, covered by a grubby pinafore. Her hair was confined inside a tight hair net. A pair of glasses sat on the bridge of her pointed nose.

“’Ave you seen the paper this morning! Your Teddy’s on the front page!”

They could hardly believe it. Dad threw on his coat, ran around to Bob’s paper shop in Charles Street, bought two copies of the Sunday Pictorial, and made his way to Edie’s to give her the news. It came as a great surprise to everyone to see Teddy’s photo, with the following caption: ‘In the Black Forest a soldier rests while his mate keeps watch.’

In the Black Forest a soldier rests while his mate keeps watch

Next: Home with Mam

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