Posts Tagged ‘wartime stories’

What a laugh! A lady koala reading my book (NO she is NOT Edna Everage)

June 8, 2010
koala reads Red Boxes

Australian Lady, Janny Inkletter, reads Red Boxes — delighted!

And what does charming Mrs Janny Inkletter say about it? (No, this beautiful lady is not related to Edna Savage. She is the wife of that extraordinary ruler of Phools Paradise — Payton L Inkletter, writer and philosopher, king of wit)

RED BOXES: Easy yet moving to read real stories, innocent yet powerful memories of growing up and living in England through 1939-80
I had been anticipating reading this account of Gladys Hobson’s life, for not the least reason that she hails from England, my birthplace.
I was raised on stories of the British Depression era, War time, and post War era till the early sixties, told me by my parents. We emigrated to Australia in 1964 when I was barely 7 years of age, and I was always fascinated by the experiences my parents shared with me and my younger brother.
‘When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in RED BOXES’ was very easy to read, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made think of my deceased mother very much, who I’ve missed greatly these past twenty one years. A lot of Ms Hobson’s experiences were very much like my mother’s, and I was especially struck by accounts of the fashion industry, because my mother’s work, before she married my father, was in the retail side of fashion. Despite war time rationing being over, it was a struggle for her to find the materials for her wedding outfit; however, one of the tailors that Mum used to deal with hand made her a beautiful tweed suit and lace blouse as her wedding present – it was a worth a small fortune. This made Ms Hobson’s account of her early career in the industry resonate with me rather nostalgically.
Thinking of the times when Ms Hobson was carving out her vocation in the fashion world, she would have needed to be quite a courageous woman; she, it should be noted, was raising her new family as well.
Even though poverty was a constant in the early part of her life, Ms Hobson’s tenacious spirit saw her overcome the struggles that a lot of her fellow countrymen shared with her.
I would warmly recommend this book to anyone wanting to have an insight into this era in Britain, and the making of our current senior generation. There is a lot to admire about how they came through the challenges of their times; things that younger people today would not understand, and maybe not cope with should – let’s hope not – such hard times return.
Janny Inkletter

Thank you, Janny for that thoughtful review.
The (enlarged) Second Edition of When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes — 1939 — 1980 (£7.50) can be ordered from any good bookshop, Amazon etc or directly (post free in the UK) from Magpies Nest Publishing.
(Please note, The smaller first edition is out of print and cannot be ordered from the publisher, but second hand books are sometimes available on Amazon)

Alan Furst’s The Polish Officer, and Stories That Will Never Be Told

March 26, 2010


Stories that will never be fully told

My sister-in-law was a young teenager during the Second World-War. If we had ever been tempted to think we wartime youngsters had a tough time of it, Olga’s story would put things into perspective.
Olga lived in Poland, the daughter of a Polish Officer. Well, we all know what happened to Poland — or do we? If not, Alan Furst’s book, The Polish Officer gives a pretty detailed account of the sufferings of people enslaved under the Nazi occupation. Although the book is a work of fiction I have no doubt about the accuracy of what life was like. The book was recommended to me by Olga as a means of getting acquainted with the wartime Poland familiar to her.
During the occupation, my sister-in-law rode her bike many miles taking messages to members of the Resistance. She was twice arrested. On one occasion she got away by climbing out of a window. But the other occasion caused her much emotional suffering. Twice she was taken from her cell to be shot. She prepared herself for death but on each occasion it ended in the guards laughing.
Of course, food and fuel were in short supply. The Germans had many soldiers to keep supplied.
I met a lady recently who was in Holland during the occupation. She too carried messages for the Resistance. She told me how little food they had to live on — a two pound bag of sugar being a week’s complete food ration-— and how they sold everything they had to get small pieces of meat and such. She also mentioned a village that had no children and no elderly: food and fuel shortages ensured not one had survived a severe winter.
There is an added romantic dimension to her story: her RAF boyfriend was captured and put in a prisoner-of-war camp. Set free by the Canadians towards the end of the war, he stole a jeep and drove off to look for her. They married within a couple of days and, through a Canadian pilot friend, arranged for her to be flown to England. Once there, she made her way to the home of her new sister-in-law. Other things, concerning brushes with German officers and so on, were also mentioned.

These stories have never been written down and never likely to be. What a pity. You see, I was told by one publisher that there is not enough interest to make good enough sales.

However, I thoroughly recommend Alan Furst’s book, not only is The Polish Officer a good read but informative too. It is not surprising that Furst is also a much-travelled journalist.