The War

This first hand experience of the Second World War is written by Dr Barrie Penhaligan

The War

It happened many years ago, in 1943, our family survived the war
My Mum, my Dad and me
For many nights we hardly slept, the ‘Shelters’  were our home
we’d share our food, our cups of tea, we’d even share our comb.

Whilst up the stairs, out in the street , the bombs came screaming down
there’s Fire, Glass and Water in what used to be our town.

The Co-op’ on the corner has been battered to the ground
some say there were folks in it, though no bodies have been found.

The Ambulances with bells aringing hurry through the night
they  ferry broken bodies, some won’t make it….some just might!

The nurses and the doctors, they work with might and main
they ‘sew’,  they  reset arms and legs,  give jabs to ease the pain

They mop up blood, they bandage arms and legs and heads just right…
but even they can’t stop the souls from going to heaven each night

Broken bodies placed in boxes are then laid into the ground
there’s nought to help the Police,  the next of kin just can’t be found

It’s just one more lifeless body,  dozens similar lay around
In the rubble that were houses, fired and battered to the ground.

Through the darkness of the evening, searchlights stab into the night
If it wasn’t for this war l’m sure,  ‘twould be a lovely sight

Then they centre on a tiny dot,  a plane up in the sky
but it beats me how that tiny plane  makes grown up adults cry

Someone cries “The School  has copped it and it’s going up in smoke”
“Hurray” the kids shout, “No more school”, but  my Mum can’t see the joke

Comes the early light of morning, all the damage  we can see
all the charred and burnt out wreckage, where our houses used to be

And, as if we haven’t had enough, it starts to pour with rain
that mixes with the dust and blood , and trickles down the drain

All this happened many years ago in 1943
Now my Mum has gone to Heaven,
So’s my Dad
Now there’s just….Me !


Written by: Dr Barrie Penhaligan

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Dr Barrie Penhaligan

Born in Devon before the outbreak of the Second World War, l have very vivid memories of the horror that war brought to the average man and woman in the village that l lived in. When l was 7 years old my parents moved up into the Peak District on the outskirts of Sheffield. This town in particular was the subject of nightly bombing raids by the Luftwaffe as it was the main supplier of majority of England's steel production. The austerity of such a life, the rationing for food, the disturbed nights when l woken up to spend many an hour in the local Air Raid Shelters listening to the sound of the bombs screaming down, and the noise of the buildings being hit by them all made an impression on my young memory. Educated at the local Grammar School, l went on to University to achieve a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Masters in Sociology and Psychiatry. My Father, who was a self-employed Dentist, had always dreamed that l would follow him into the business when l graduated. He was very upset therefore when l told him that l had decided to move on from University and join the Royal Air Force and make a career as a Fighter Pilot. This l did and soon reached the ranks of a Squadron Leader when a tragic accident cut short my flying career and the necessity to wear glasses meant that l couldn’t even stay in the Air Force as ground staff. With the compensation l received as a result of this accident, l was able to set myself up as a Psychologist taking in both Health Service referrals and private patients. Becoming, as did, a ‘workaholic’ soon increased my bank balance quite considerably but l paid the price for this in two failed marriages. Now, in retirement, l spend my days in a small cottage situated on the South Downs of Great Britain. Putting pen to paper so to speak is a new experience for me, but one l am looking forwards to very much and l hope that you like what l submit.

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