Wartime Memories of Jill Wennberg

My name is Jill Wennberg and I lived on Chalfont Heights with my parents and my older sister Betty.

What are your earliest memories of the war?

I was 3 ½ when war was declared.  I remember it as we had early evacuees – the Honey family.  Mr Honey was my father’s draughtsman and Mrs Honey and the Honey boys.  I remember them because I had never seen little boys in striped pyjamas.  Mrs Honey had gone to church and obviously the Vicar had announced that war had broken out and Mrs Honey left the church and came running back to our house, screaming all the way, thinking that the Germans had arrived and that her children were soon to be killed.  The Honeys soon left after that to go back to their own home.

I do remember the building of the air raid shelter in our neighbour’s garden.  She was an elderly lady and we shared it with her.  When the bombing started, I would be taken across to sleep in one of the top bunks and after 18 months it was decided we would stop using it.

What do you remember about the London Blitz which was relatively close to your home area?

I remember the aircraft activity and the stray bombs.  A very large gun at the end of the road taking pot shots at the aircraft.  The feeling of fear of delayed action land mines going off causing windows to blow out.  Particularly the bombing of the City of London and my Mother waking up my sister and I to look out of my bedroom window at the arc of light in the sky caused by the fire in the city.  Later that week, the Picture Post had the same picture crowning the dome of St Pauls.  The evacuees are back!  My mother’s sister Auntie Beatie and her six-week-old baby plus a friend with a 1 year old.  Hell had arrived.  They went back after 2 months as they found it far too quiet.  The next invasion was my mother’s next sister Aunt Connie with her two daughters Mary and Susie.  They had been bombed out in South London.  Susie was my age and I had a playmate at last.  Their father was at Aldershot waiting to go to the war.  Sadly, not long afterwards after their arrival, Susie became ill and died – all a terrible shock.  Auntie Connie went to live in Cornwall.

What do you remember about living in and growing up in the Chilterns during that period?

All sorts of things particularly the burning of paraffin.  This was a smoke screen of drums of paraffin burnt in Uxbridge because of the RAF control unit for the South of England.  I did not know at that time – I have only heard of this since.  And while having lunch with my Mother in the Dining Room, a lone German twin engine plane, possibly a Dornier, flew over our house and dropped a stick of bombs which I think fell on the Rickmansworth Water Company.  My Mother pushed me under the table and handed me the rice pudding.  Well done Mum!  My father always said that they were aiming for something else.  I remember being blown out of bed by a V1 rocket going off in the grounds of The Vache at Chalfont St Giles.  Rather unbecoming!  I remember lights on parachutes hanging in the sky before they dropped bombs and the crash of a German aircraft in the field behind our house. The pilot had parachuted out and landed not far away unhurt and ended up sitting on deck chairs in our garage.  My Father for a time was an ARP and did know a lot of what was going on.

Author: shane

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