June 6th 1944 was my mother’s 32nd birthday. She was 8 months pregnant with her fourth child.
Her other children were 9, 8 and 5 years old. My dad was not “in the war” due to his job on the railway. In those days men did not look after the children so when my mum became ill during her pregnancy, she took her children to her sister’s, while being cared for by her brother and his wife. My dad insisted on taking the children back home to Yorkshire (my mum’s relatives were in Essex) but then realised he could not care for them, and had them placed in local authority care. Each of the siblings was fostered out separately. The older two became frantically upset, and the experience had lifelong effects.
My father was instructed to take back the first born, my brother, as he was so distressed. He collected him, put him on a train to London St Pancras and arranged for the boy’s paternal grandmother to collect him. My brother then had a different set of fears – he was in London during the final fierce battles of the war. He was sent to school there, and slept on the landing of the accommodation his grandparents shared with 5 other families. He witnessed at close site the bombing of the local station, and collected shrapnel with his peers after school.
These records are taken from my mother’s diaries and my brother’s autobiography. My brother recorded that he was told there was a new baby brother in the family and that he would soon be returnng home.
That was on July 4th 1944.
There is no record of what happened to my sister and 5 year old brother during this time. Nor is there a timeline – was it weeks or months?
At the 75th anniversary of D-Day, I expected to find remenicenses of a family finding joy and relief. Instead I found a broken home. The brother born on 4/7/44 is approaching 75, and my only living relative, and he can’t tell me anything. It was only spoken about by my sister when we were much older. The experience she described to me was utterly frantic. No-one ever mentioned D-Day, except to comment each year, that it was my mother’s birthday.