Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Child's Remembrance

With this week's Remembrance observations, I have been thinking back to what I actually remember about WWII. If you visited Hiawatha House earlier this week, you saw a simple acknowledgement of Remembrance Day. A radio station I listen to was asking people what they thought about during the minute of silence. Many interesting calls came into the station. We not only remember those who died , but what freedom was won, and how we enjoy it because of their efforts. Too often we do not appreciate that the freedoms we enjoy were won at great cost.

This topic also got me thinking back to what I remember about WWII. I was born in Oct. 1939, a few weeks after the war started. Of course, I do not remember the early part of the war.

I vividly remember some things about those times. Keep in mind that they are from a child's perspective. We lived about 40 kms from a special airport which was set up to train pilots. It was known as the Dafoe Airport. The area we lived in was flat prairie with few cloudy days. I remember the noisy yellow Harvards flying over our farmyard. I always hoped that they would land in the yard and pick me up and take me for a ride. Many times they came over at treetop level. (Our farm was surrounded by a shelter belt.) Sometimes they were flying in formation. For a four or five year old it was very exciting to see.

My younger brother and I would listen to the news and turn to each other and say "German,German,German", as the news was always about the Germans. This caused us some consternation as we were of German heritage, and heard the German language in our home almost daily.

We were also involved with wrapping parcels which my mother made to send to her brother and other relatives who were overseas. She would put in some baked goodies and maybe socks, toothpaste and other personal items. We probably weren't of much help to her, but she involved us, and as a result I remember some of those things.

At the end of the war my brother and I were again listening to the radio as reports were given describing troop ships arriving and unloading. We always wondered if Uncle Ernie was getting off the ship. Of course, very few people knew when their family members were actually returning.

We did travel by train occasionally, and in those times the trains were loaded with people in the forces. We found the people in uniform to be very exciting.

My wife was born in England and spent the war years there . She remembers different things. The rationing of food was a large issue for her. She remember the blackouts and her Mickey Mouse gas mask that she was issued. She also remembers some bombs which landed near her home, and the fires which were caused by them.

My memories are only snapshots of incidents which occurred . I often wonder how other children were influenced, and if they were traumatized by what they saw and heard at such a young age.