|During wartime, life at home was affected in many ways.
Gardens were transformed into vegetable patches, rather than the playtime havens they are today.
Whole families were evacuated from the big cities and towns into rural locations to escape the bombings.
|"That evening, us village boys were standing near the road outside our workshop, as coachloads of evacuated school children from London were streaming up Station Road hill. The children glared blankly at us as they passed in the coaches - which had collected them from Ridgmont Station. The Evacuation Special trains had brought the children to the country railway stations, where coaches waited ready to transport them to village reception centres to be found billets in the surrounding country districts. I thought, how awful for these children to have to leave home like that, and be billeted in strange homes, whose owners would be equally disturbed by having to cope with children which they knew nothing about. We had not been selected to accomodate any evacuees because we had a houseful as it was..."|
|Cecil Woodland recalls, in September 1939, the arrival of evacuees to Ridgmont in his diaries ...|
|Gardens were transformed into vegetable patches, and formed one of the main food sources for the family. Children helped in the garden, either feeding the chickens, rabbits and pigs that were kept to provide meat and eggs or to sow and pick the vegetables that had been grown.|
|A local boy, Stan West, in his 'garden'. You can see the vegetables being grown in the background.|
|Rationing was a part of life, with each family being issued with a ration book for essential items, such as sugar, butter and cheese. One lady recalls that margarine was plentiful since it was double the butter ration. Mothers became culinary wizards, making the most of the ingredients available. If the family owned a pig, this could be slaughtered and used for food - but you had to declare it and lose your bacon ration!
Many goods were exchanged - older folk swapped their cheese and butter ration in exchange for eggs, pork and bacon were "smuggled" to friends and relations under the cover of darkness.
Click here to listen to Peter Garratt recalling how pigs were killed during rationing. This audio clip may take some time to download (about 300K)
Fruit was in short supply and mainly consisted of apples and pears. Oranges and bananas were a rare commodity and only appeared towards the end of the war. Children's diets were supplemented with orange juice - thick and sour and totally unlike the juices we know today - but still an important source of vitamin C.
|The front page from a rations book|
|Cecil Woodland remembers in his diaries:|
|"Mum divided our sugar ration into separate basins - so it was up to us how long it lasted!!|
|Air raids soon became a way of life for folk during war time - especially with Ridgmont being on a direct flight path between London and the Midlands.
Many houses had cellars that were converted into air raid shelters, others had shelters dug in the gardens. Those without shelters were made welcome at their neighbours, as an extract from Cecil Woodland's diary of June 1940 illustrates.
|Being sited about 300 ft above sea level, the sight of London and the Midlands cities of Coventry and Birmingham being bombed were a common occurrence. Firewatches were carried out from the church spire and several villagers recall seeing the night raids over Coventry.
Another constant reminder of wartime was the regular drone of planes flying south to bomb Europe at dusk from airstrips in the Midlands.
This audio clip may take some time to download (about160K)