World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                     Lily & Albert Taylor 

I Was The Only Child Of Lily and Albert Taylor

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Lily and Albert Taylor
Location of story: Sheffield, Basingstoke and London
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mr. Taylor.

I was the only child of Lily and Albert Taylor, and I must have been 6 or 7, when I used to travel to Basingstoke Hospital every other weekend to see an uncle of mine who had been injured in the war in France. My uncle Horace was very ill and it was touch and go whether he would survive, so the need to visit frequently became imperative.

It is thought, being in the army and being in action in France, that when he lost his arm and was transferred to Basingstoke Hospital, that he was one of the first people to receive penicillin, which was not widely used in Britain. My mum and dad both worked on the railways, so being allowed to travel on a pass was part of the perks of working on the railway. It made it cheaper for them. We used to board the train at the Midland Station, and on our journey down there we were aware that if there was an air raid we could be a sitting target, but life had to go on.

We met all kinds of people travelling, but the American forces used to fascinate me, and they were always very friendly, more often than not they would offer me chocolate, sweets and spearmint which I thought was wonderful. When we arrived in London, it would be about 9am on a Saturday morning, having set out at about 6am. We would go straight onto the underground and that never failed to shock me. People and children would be sleeping on the platforms side by side in double rows. There was very little space to put your feet.

We would catch another train to Basingstoke and I could see bombed buildings and roofs covered with tarpaulin on my journey. There were many more forces personnel in the ward where uncle Horace was and they were all in pretty bad shape. We would pass all day with him and leave his bedside only to have a meal or a sandwich and drink. Then we would set off back to London late in the evening, where we would see people once again starting to make their beds on the underground for the night's stay for safety, away from the bombing.

It would be about midnight when we arrived back in Sheffield, then off to bed and to hopefully have a peaceful night and a late sleep on Sunday morning, so that everybody could be refreshed for work and school. My relatives would ask my mother why didn’t my parents leave me with one of them and do the trip by themselves, to which she would reply, “We live together and if have to, we’ll die together.”