The Auntie Doris Years: 1944

Missing Notification Telegram copy

We started winning the war that year. The bombs were still dropping, and the u-boats were still out there, but they were regularly getting shot out of the sky or sunk. Meanwhile we were hammering Berlin and winning back first Italy and then France from the Nazis. About ruddy time an’all. We were all getting tired of it, and we had increasing confidence that the end was in sight, and that those of us who survived were going to make a few changes to make sure that it wouldn’t happen again. I was 29 years old, and I had spent the first four years and the last five years of my life in wartime. That was enough for me.
It was enough for most women. Doreen Curdle lost her husband, Percy in 1944. He got himself blown to smithereens in Italy. She didn’t speak for three months, and when she did, she had changed from an agreeable woman to a moody old trout, who did nothing but find fault and snap at people who spoke to her. You could understand why, but It didn’t make her any easier to get on with. So it wasn’t just the people who got killed who lost their lives in the war. She lost her life too. But she had to go on living. She moved back in with her mother after the war, and became a bit of a recluse. After her mother died, she spent her final years frightening the younger children in the neighbourhood, and being frightened by the older ones.
I met up with her again after I had passed over to the other side. She was re-united with her man, and had once again become the pleasant character that I had known in my first few years in the Land Army. But her soul had been marked by her earth bound experiences. Percy had waited 43 years for her to join him, and they moved on pretty soon after she arrived.
The stories were the same in Germany too. They weren’t all evil monsters over there, despite what we might have thought whilst the war was on. OK they had signed up to Hitler, and gone along with his plans. But most people had just been swept along without making any conscious decisions, and ended up having to be a part of it because the alternative was being shot or sent o a concentration camp. I honestly don’t know what I’d have done If I had been born in Brandenburg rather than East Yorkshire. I’d like to think that I would have understood the difference between right and wrong and stood up for right, but it might have taken a bit more guts than I had in my kit bag.
Auntie Doris’s Top hit of 1944: Mairzy Doates by the Merry Macs. I used to like singing this one to the kiddies. And teaching them the words. It was a load of shite. But kiddies like that sort of thing. “A Kiddly divey too, wooden shoe?”

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