Setting up home in a former prisoner of war camp with Swastikas on the walls is recalled by Ely woman at a living history event
PUBLISHED: 10:48 15 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:48 15 July 2015
A 75 year old Ely woman joined the Home Front marquee at the Big Weekend event in Cambridge where people learnt about the lives of those affected by conflict.
The stories are being compiled for a book due to be published in Autumn.
The event saw Gay Clarke join Age UK Cambridgeshire, the BBC and the Museum of Cambridge, where she spoke about her life.
She said: ‘I’ve had a wonderful time. I’ve met some lovely people and have been chatting all day. People I’ve never met before came up to ask questions. “I’ve been amazed how interested people are and have loved every minute. Fantastic day.”
Mrs Clarke spent her childhood on Merseyside but when her family’s house was bombed, she and her younger sister were sent to live in Ireland.
“Like many other children who were evacuated, we had to live away from our parents for a while, even though we were both very young.
“Our journey there was made at great risk as the sea was full of U-boats. But we eventually arrived safely and accommodation was found for us in the Court House, where we children were put up in the cells.
“My sister and I were very distressed as we missed our parents badly. We were too young to understand that we were being looked after by a relative our aunt. After about 18 months, my mother came and took us home.
“Back home, we were moved around wherever there was accommodation, which included church hall, community centres.
“We were constantly on the alert for an attack, and at night, the blackout was strictly enforced; anyone caught with a light was fined.
“The morale of the adults was amazing and they were always singing and telling us funny stories.
“When the war ended, we were eventually re-housed in a place called Huyton, on an estate which was being used for prisoners. There were swastikas painted on the inner walls, but my father managed to get hold of some whitewash to cover these up. There was barbed wire everywhere.”
The Big Weekend Home Front activities included a 1940s Music Wagon, two period musicians, a tea tent, a 1940s exercise class, vintage bicycles, Lindy Hop, an exhibition and reminiscence pieces.
There were also workshops on gardening, rationing, butter making, wash day, and make do and mend.
To order a copy of the memory book call 0300-666-9860.