Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018


<strong>A change of LIFE at eleven years old.</strong>

My story starts in Middlesborough Yorkshire England in 1939.

September 1939.  War between the United Kingdom and Germany.

What did it mean to me? Not a lot really at first, but shortly afterwards the Air Raid sirens on top of the Parish Church started to wail about 11.00 AM.

Where was I?   I was at the butcher’s shop of Mole Brothers in North Ormesby where I was their early delivery boy and odd job boy in the shop.  In my spare time from school I delivered meat, sausages and pork pies to customers.  The pies went to Public Houses. I would put an extra pie for myself (well! I was a growing boy and Jim, one of the brothers, did not mind this at all.  He was a good friend to me.)

A few days after war was declared workmen appeared and began to dig up our Market Place.  I lived at number 26.  The Market place had houses around three sides.  The fourth side was occupied by the Parish Church where I attended Sunday School.   Soon it became evident to us that the workmen were constructing an underground Air Raid shelter.  When finished, it had long seats along the passageways. Lighting was by oil lamps. Toilet facilities were crude but adequate.  Regulations were issued by the local council from the government. Ration books would be issued for every man, woman and child.  Everything was to be rationed - clothes, food of most kinds and even sweets (candy).  Further regulations were issued that everyone was ordered to attend central posts for the fitting and issue of gas masks.  There were no exceptions.  In addition, instructions were issued that no person was to be seen outside their home without taking their masks. No exceptions.

Middlesborough was, and still is, a large port on the east coast of England.  It has important iron and steel plants, docks for sea-going ships and repair facilities for ships if the need arises. It also has a huge industrial chemical plant in the area. It is, therefore, a good target for enemy bombers.

All was quiet for a time. Then one dark night the siren on top of the church started wailing. This meant the enemy was on the way.
My Mum and Dad led my three sisters and I down to the shelter. It was cold and dark. No street lights. All had been switched out for the duration of the war. If you had a flashlight you were lucky. I was cold in that shelter, believe me. The bombers made a run on our town and did not do much damage. They were aiming for the local steelworks (didn’t hit much this time).

Early in 1940 the local authorities decided to evacuate many children out into the countryside. My sister Bessie and I were selected to go but not our other two sisters. They were more mature and working girls were not eligible.
Within about a week my sister and I were duly labeled with our names and date of birth and where we lived in Middlesborough, in case we got lost in transit.
We met with others at the railway station and a tearful wave to Mum and we were off – to where we had no idea. As it turned, out we were bussed as well and ended up in a small Yorkshire village called Reighton well out into the countryside. Accompanied by teachers, we were taken to various locations with hope for billeting. Bessie and I were in separate homes but were quite close to each other.

I was introduced to my new guardians, shown my bedroom and other facilities and promptly set to work washing up the dishes. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I was also shown around the pig pens and told that I would be expected to bring in their food and put it in their troughs. They were huge pigs! I’d never seen a live pig and up so close, even when I worked as a butcher’s boy. The way they ran up to me when I went in the pen frightened me and that’s not all. There were rats running around as well!
I was not very happy in my new home and when my Mum came to visit after a couple of weeks I told her and she took my sister and I home.

After about three or four weeks the air raids became more frequent and my parents decided we ought to be evacuated again with the next batch of children.

<strong>Ronald Mizon</strong>

<strong>EDITOR’S NOTE</strong>:  Ronald has agreed to send in stories as frequently as he can and share his experiences with us from the time war intruded into his young life. We have received many related enquiries regarding Ronald and his time here in Nova Scotia and we welcome Ronald’s sharing with us.  Renewed friendships/contacts are now possible where distance and time kept them apart. We have sent a package over to Ronald so he may enjoy, with the assistance of our local history books by Sadie Siroy and St. Paul’s history calendars, his fond memories of his time spent in our community as a young boy.  The latest Heritage Society’s release of their book “Recollections of our Little Corner” is very enjoyable and informative and will surely help Ronald better visualize our community as it was in 1941 and help to see how we have progressed since then.  We anticipate, encourage and look forward to any further information or contacts that this “Blast from the Past” may bring to our “Little Corner”.

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