World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                           Stephanie Law

A Summer Holiday

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Hubert and Stephanie Naylor
Location of story: Midlands and Welsh Borders
Background to story: Civilian

 This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Joanna Thomas of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Stephanie Law.

One summer morning in 1942, my father and I set out on an ancient tandem for a cycling holiday. My mother who did not enjoy cycling stayed at home – quite looking forward to a week when she didn’t have to feed three people on the fairly modest amount of food available to a small family.

We had no particular destination in mind – just a general drift towards the Welsh Border. I remember quite clearly the empty roads – mile after mile with no traffic other than an occasional Army convoy or a rather dilapidated lorry.

As most hotels were taken over by the military we slept where we could – cafés, private houses, anyone who would take us in I suppose. My first visit to Stratford-upon-Avon did not mean a visit to the theatre, but an urgent quest for a British Restaurant where we didn’t have to surrender points on our emergency ration cards. The menu consisted of potato soup followed by potato pie and it tasted marvellous! Nothing like real hunger for giving one a true appetite.

As we approached the Border Country we began a rather desperate search fro accommodation and I remember my father saying that it seemed likely that we would spend the night under a hedge (I was quite excited by the thought). However, at Drakes Broughton we were taken in by a dear old elderly couple who lived in an ancient cottage.

Here I had my first experience of a goose-feather bed – you sank into it up to the ears and abominably hot it was, although I imagine that in Winter it would be very welcome in an unheated cottage.

Next morning we were given bacon and eggs for breakfast (an almost unheard of luxury at home) and when my father asked how much we owed them, was hesitatingly asked if 2/6d (12½p) would be alright for the two of us – happy days!

A broken brake cable next day meant that our cycling holiday came to an abrupt end. We rode in state on the back of an open lorry into Kidderminster, there to get a train home. At Kidderminster Station my father left me guarding the tandem whilst he went to buy tickets, and I was immediately surrounded by curious American soldiers who didn’t seem to have anything like our ancient vehicle in the USA. I was rather bemused by all this attention and very glad when my father reappeared to answer all their questions.

So home, where my mother greeted us with, “Well, you are home early” – pause – “it has been quite a treat not having to feed you for a day or two!”.