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Delia Chadwick


A war time childhood, 1940s

Sepia photograph of the army rugby team in Poona, India, 1932.
Delia's father joined the regular army in 1931. He was sent to Poona in India to train at the Army School of Cookery for India. He played in the army rugby team in 1932 and is standing second from the left on the back row. After the Second World War broke out he was called up and had to go back into the army. © Delia Chadwick

Colour scan of the first pages of a soldier's Certificate of Service book from 1929.
Certificate of Service © Delia Chadwick

I was six months old when the Second World War was declared. As my dad was in the reserve army, he was sent off and I didn't know him when I was a little girl. I would say goodnight to a photo of him instead.

During the war, my mother was working so my sister and I were sent to live with my grandmother on Parson Cross. My mother was bombed out of the house at Moorgate and went to live in a shared house in Crookes. Then she got a house on Parson Cross too. When my dad came home on leave, he didn't know where we lived as mother hadn't got around to writing to him!

At school, if your dad was in the army, you could have a note for a free pair of shoes. I told the teacher he was at home so I didn't get any shoes. I didn't know he was only on leave.

Up until the war was over, we lived in the Blackout. No light was to be seen from outside so everyone had blackout curtains at home. After the war, when the street lights came on, all the kids would shout and we would walk up and down the streets looking at people's curtains. I loved looking at the lights in all the shop windows, it was magical!

Written by Delia Chadwick, November 2006.