Sunday 1939

This story is in response to the photo prompt at Friday Fictioneers. The prompt is not an easy one this time, and I honestly thought it would be beyond me. But it stirred memories of stories I heard from people who recalled the start of WWII on September 1, 1939, and my father’s comment that war was “never did anyone any good and mostly it’s the children that suffer.”


Sunday 1939

Sundays were quiet in our house. Usually, we gathered around the radio – father quietly reading the paper, mother knitting, and me busy with my crayons and drawing paper.

This Sunday seemed different. Dad’s paper was still folded, and mum’s knitting lay idly in her lap. They were watching me with my crayons drawing dresses for my paper dolls, as if it were the most important thing on earth.

Then I caught the words coming from the radio. “This country is at war with Germany.”

My mother gave a sob and grasped me in her arms. Outside, air raid sirens shrieked for the first time.

Next day, I was standing on a railway station with a name tag and a suitcase. I never went home again.


*Just a note to say that this did not happen to me. I am a Baby Boomer, born after the war. But it did happen to a British friend of my parents, who was evacuated to the country as a child when war was declared. Her home was destroyed in the London bombings, and her parents did not survive the war. I thought this was actually a story that could be told on both sides of the war, since my father heard similar stories from death camp survivors. Suddenly they would find themselves on a train station and never see their home again. As he said, it is mostly the children that suffer.

5 thoughts on “Sunday 1939

  1. You have told this story well. Vivid, real images of a time when everyone wanted to forget. The trouble is no one could. And we still can’t. ‘Never again,’ is a term the Jewish people say these days to a possibility of it ever happening again. Thanks for dropping by mine too, and leaving your ‘like.’ Always appreciated.

  2. I did live through it. Its as clear now as it was then, those words, on that Sunday morning when my mum, dad and me gathered around that little radio. I was way too young to really understand what it would all mean but my dad insisted I listen quietly. I was never evacuated because I did not live in London or Birmingham or any of the big cities that later became targets for the Luftwaffe. My dad was quite ill at that point so regretfully he could not go into military service. He volunteered for the AARP though until he passed away on Christmas Eve of that year, 1939. He was my hero. He had been a fighter pilot in WWI and flew for pleasure whenever he could in some of those rickety aircraft for the rest of his life. Going back to WWII, our small town became an armed camp. Mostly with the British forces until later when the Americans joined the fight.

    Thank you for writing this. It stopped me in my tracks and brought back so many memories.


    1. Oh Vi, the courage of people who faced these terrible events always brings a lump to my throat. My father’s stories of the war always focused on the singular human tragedies he encountered. Your dad was indeed a hero, as were all of you who lived through those terrible times.

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