There Is Always Hope – By Danielle Katrina Nichols
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Another day goes by and still, there seems no hope. No day in which life seems positive.….
In some sense, I feel lucky, lucky to be in a home where people can look after me and my brother. But all I keep thinking about are my poor parents. I hear the planes zooming over us. Heading for the cities and built-up areas. Destroying our homes, our streets. I want to run and hide every time I hear in the distance an explosion. It seems to not be as much now but in the past, it was relentless. You’d hear the air raid siren beckoning, drilling into your ears. They’re coming, could this be the last sight of blue sky, green grass. We would all rush into the air raid shelter and sit all together, not knowing how long this time we would be here for. The first time was the worst, sitting with a family you just didn’t know, wondering if your family were ok back home. Hearing the crashing around you, the rumbling of the shelter, and just looking up to see if the air-raid shelter wasn’t coming crashing down upon us. Looking at the strangers opposite us, knowing that for the foreseeable future these people were my family.
The family I’m living with seems kind enough. Dorothy my evacuee mother is a tiny woman, brown hair scraped up into a bun. She cooks the most wonderful dinners and always has a lot of passion, but I can see in her eyes how scared and worried she is. Then you have little Harry and Harriet, the twins. They are Dorothy’s children. Her husband was sent to war before we had arrived, she looks out onto the lane every day for some glimmer of hope of his return. We live in this small cottage house in the area of Kent, there are other evacuee children around, and through time being here, we have made quite a few friends.
We all go to school which is held in the local church hall. It’s nothing like back home, but it definitely does the job and we all love being there for each other. From what I recall we’ve been here nearly 6 years now. Some other children have already been sent home, but who knows what happened to them as the war just continued on.
My mother and father agreed for my brother and I to stay here until the government stated it was ok to do so. When we left home I was heading into my teenage years. The years where I really needed my mother. Dorothy has been great but I just get this niggling feeling that I want my mother because I feel like she would just understand me a lot more.
My brother Benjamin is younger than me, so I feel somewhat like a second mother to him. I’ve dealt with the crying at night, the tantrums, and the loneliness he’s felt. He’s now 10 years of age and I know he’s feeling the same as me. Desperate for this to be over and seeing our parents again.
We’ve been lucky with having contact with our parents. Every now and then we will write to our mother who is in our family home with our grandparents near London. They are well but do miss us. Our father has been sent to war and unfortunately, I haven’t received a letter from him in over a year. The last place I recall him being located is in France. Our mother promises everything is ok, but I know she’s only trying to protect us.
I hope that this war will end soon, it’s been our 6th Christmas away from home and I really hope this Christmas we can be with our family again. They’ve missed so much of our lives and our accomplishments. We sit every day by the radio with our family listening to the Prime Ministers’ speech. Hoping that he gives us the all-clear. The speech to say the war has ended and we can safely return to our families.
Today is the 8th May 1945 and things seem quiet….
The lane has no one riding up and down it, no children are heard playing in the fields. There are no planes flying over us, no shouting in the distance. It’s 3 pm and we are all sat in the lounge by the radio listening in on the Prime Ministers speech. It is an extremely long speech and then he states the words we all are longing to hear, “The German war is therefore at an end”.
I zone out of everything else and think that there is always hope. Hope to see my family again. To try and regain our civilisation back to a better and safer country. Dorothy rushes to our bedrooms and gives us both a cuddle. “I’m so honoured and proud of the people you have become and I wish you all the best in your future”
It’s time to go home. As we leave, a man in army uniform is running up the lane. Dorothy falls to her knees and weeps. She can not believe he’s home. 6 years of not knowing whether her husband was dead or alive. If he was ever going to return safely to his home. The twins run out to their father and they embrace in a family hug, not ever again letting go of one another. As I look around many families are flying the British flag. In celebration of our country. We have all sacrificed, we have all fought for what is right.
It’s time for my brother and I to head home, to see our mother and grandparents. Dorothy and her family take us to the station, where other families are with the evacuees. We thank them for all they have done for us. If not for them who knows where we’d be.
Our train journey home felt like a lifetime, we just want to see our mother. As the train slows into the station, we frantically look for her. There, at the back of the platform, our mother, still beautiful awaits our arrival. She looks the same but slightly older than I remember. Her hair pinned back and all in black. She looks extremely happy to see us and runs to embrace us in her arms. It felt amazing to be back home. Home with our family. But I sensed something was not quite right. Her face seemed somewhat sad and broken. She was happy but something wasn’t ok.
“Is father at home?” I ask. Her face looks sad, heartbroken. She can’t quite seem to get the words out.
“Come on children, let’s hurry home. Your Grandparents are looking forward to seeing you.”
I know something isn’t right. We return home, our Grandparents are waiting with excitement. It’s such a beautiful reunion. But where was father, I’d seen many other soldiers return to their families, where was ours. Benjamin was all very confused still, he was looking out the window, longing for father to return. Mother sat us down and looked lost.
“Your father, he won’t be returning.” Mother was stuttering her words, “he passed away, in battle. I’m so sorry my darlings.”
I can’t believe it. Why? Why our father? So many soldiers returned to their families, but why couldn’t ours. I start to cry, and I look at Benjamin, but he is not crying. He looks sad but proud.
“I’m sorry mother, I know this must be hard, but we should be proud of our father. He fought for our country and he did what was right. He will always be my hero.”
When Benjamin spoke, I felt so honoured to be his sister. He had grown so much, he knew what was right. Of course I am heartbroken over our father’s death, but in some ways, we are still all together as a family and we can carry his memory through us and I can tell my story to many more. Many people lost everything during this time. They now have nothing. But I have my fathers honour and my family to cuddle at night and I’m so grateful for this.
There is always hope for better to come.