VE Day and my childhood memories of the war

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I was a nine-year-old pupil at St Theresa’s RC school, Prince of Wales Road, Manor Estate at the time of VE Day celebrations.

Each class was marched into the school hall where teachers opened a number of cardboard boxes and each of us was given a two ounce bar of Fry’s Sandwich Chocolate. There were two types, one a layer of milk chocolate sandwiched between two layers of dark chocolate the other a layer of dark chocolate sandwiched between two layers of milk.

Having a sweet tooth I was a little disappointed when mine was mainly dark.

This was a treat at the time when sweet coupons were part of the ration book. The page in the ration book for sweets was divided into E coupons and D coupons.

The weight value for each coupon varied and was announced each month, I suppose by the Ministry of Food. This could be for example E coupons four ounces, D coupons one ounce, depending on availability of ingredients, mostly from abroad.

My other memory of the war was the nine-hours blitz on December 12, 1940, my fifth birthday, when we were in and out of the shelters all night as wave after wave of German bombers came over.

We lived on Scotia Close on the Manor Estate and when the “all clear” sounded my brother, a trainee metallurgist at Vickers carried me to the end of our close overlooking the city and after weeks of “blackout” the red glow of Sheffield on fire was a sight I can still see in my memory.

Even with the threat of invasion we children had more freedom to roam than is thought safe for children today and we would search the Manor fields for bomb craters and collect shrapnel.

I remember the victory military parades in Sheffield and on one occasion a Lancaster was on display in Barkers Pool.

Next time you are in town look at the columns at the City Hall entrance and you will see patches of cement. These are repairs to holes created by shrapnel from nearby bomb bursts during the blitz.

Peter Wolstenholme

by email