Monday, November 2, 2009

Growing Up: Here and There - John Baker

John Baker was a young boy of seven when the war broke out. He grew up in Ipswich, England, about 40 miles outside London. He recalls what it was like to grow up during war times. Baker remembers charts, entitled “Know Your Enemy,” that showed what German planes looked like. These had to be memorized in case of an attack. During this time there was also a flurry of shelters being built. Anderson shelters were built outside the house in the garden. Baker used his family shelter as a play den. There were also Morrison shelters built within the house incase there was not enough time to get out. Although his parents were scared he said “it was like living in a boy’s adventure story.” Two types of sirens were also developed; one to warn to take cover and another to let them know it was all clear. As a child, Baker remembers his friends and him being upset when the siren went off and nothing happened because they craved for their “adventure,” to have some adventure.

Another event that Baker recalls is his streets being machine-gun attacked by German planes. The planes were so close that no one had time to use their plan recognition skills to identify the enemy that was only about 100 feet above them. Then, to add to his adventure the children collected the spent bullets. Baker talks about this as is if it were a regular occurrence which is shocking to me because if machine guns were going off around me I would not be as calm.

Finally, something that truly added “adventure” to the war Baker was not experiencing was the bombing of Coventry, a town about 30 miles away. One night Baker remembers it being “terribly noisy.” This blitzkrieg attack was “one of the great blitzkrieg attacks of the war.” However, this attack was not considered as close as one might think. “You could bomb one part of town and nothing would be felt on the other end…The scale of terror has changed since then.” And that could not be more true.

1 comment:

  1. Would you have contact information for Mr. John Baker? I have relatives about the same age that were near the same area at the same time and would be interesting in putting them in contact. any information can be helpful, and I can communicate off-list as you see best. Thanks in advance!