‘Memories of a Northolt/Ealing Girl in WW2’ by Sylvia Chiswell

The inspiration for my book was my family, who asked me to write about my childhood during WW2. I felt that my grand & great grandchildren, & all young people, should know & understand what my generation had to endure.

We lived in Northolt, near RAF Northolt, one of the main aerodromes defending London but children living around the docks endured the worst of the bombing.  However our parents still had to cope & protect us to the best of their ability. 

On one particularly noisy night, looking out of the bedroom window, we saw the sky to the left glowing with bright light. I asked my mother “What is that light in the sky?” She answered “That is London burning”. I was 4 yrs & my sister was 2 yrs. There was no counselling available then for adults or children. We had to “get on with it”. What was different then, compared with today, is that we all knew who the enemy was. Now we cannot see our enemy, the Covid virus.

My book has had positive reviews from friends & family, plus constructive criticism. It was also written for parents, & grandparents, for teachers, students & historians of WW2. We must never forget.

Extract from ‘Memories of a Northolt/Ealing Girl in WW2’:

There were also air raids during the day. Sometimes the siren would go off and it would be a long time before the all-clear was heard. During this time, there were occasions when Joyce and I would be in the garden, watching the Spitfires and Messerschmitts chasing each other across the sky. These were called ‘dog fights’. Our mother would rush out side, pull us both in and push us under the table, made of very solid oak, in the dining room. So this must have been before the outside Anderson shelter was built. 

Some years later, towards the end of the war, we heard this loud hum, gradually increasing to a very loud noise. We dashed out into our back garden, and the whole sky was full of planes flying in one direction: south, towards the coast. This seemed to go on for hours. I believe this was part of the Allied invasion of Europe. 

Our mother always tucked us into our beds upstairs at night, and would try to keep things as normal as possible. When the sirens started, downstairs to the Morrison shelter in the front room, we would go. My sister Joyce would toddle down the stairs with her comforter (a piece of cloth). Mum would say, ‘Blooming old Hitler’. We felt safe in the Morrison shelter. Joyce and I were frightened when the guns were going, but our Mother would make us sing the nursery rhyme ‘Three Blind Mice’ in loud voices, and would try to comfort us. We learned to live with it all – the noise, the searchlights, going to the lavatory in the middle of a raid – because our mother was always there for us. 

You can buy the book here.


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