World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                          Alex Forbes 

Memories From My Dad

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alan Shippam of the BBC Radio Sheffield Action Desk on behalf of Alex Forbes.

The memories I’ve got of my dad are the stories that he used to tell us of the lives of both my mum and dad, but it’s the war years, which are indelibly etched, on my mind. My dad joined at the age of sixteen and a half, he lied about his age, got in early and went to South Africa. Many stories relate to that, one of them being, when he was going out with this young black girl called Maureen. He used to go to the townships with her and things like that and one night they were going out to a bar in Cape Town and they were coming to a white bar and it was white’s only and Maureen said “No, no, we can’t go in there”.

My dad said “Oh yes we can”, so he took her in to this white bar, to the shock of everyone in there, obviously, and the South African police turned up, arrested them both, and my dad ended up spending a couple of nights in Cape Town Castle Dungeons for his good works. The thing about that is, for people of my generation who don’t know what went on and poo poo things, to think about someone of my dad’s age, sixteen and a half, seventeen, having that kind of courage and that kind of thought for things that were going on, that were such a social wrong, (when you think that only ten years ago apartheid ended), for him to know then at that time, in the midst of a World War, that that was so very wrong and to take a stand like that, has always impressed me and it was just something that I thought should always be remembered, should never be lost.

He came from South Africa and was moved to North Africa, working at El Adam Air Base and it was there, that my dad saw the end of the war, physically the end of the war. He came home from El Adam, across the Mediterranean, cam through France on a closed train, no-one was allowed in, no-one was allowed out, and another memory which came from that, was of the destitution, the destruction through France, especially Northern France and the kids running up and down the railway tracks, chasing the trains and all the servicemen, my dad included, throwing out what they could, cigarettes, chocolate, food to these kids running up and down the lines.

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