World War II changed the lives of many families. At the time we were living in Portsmouth at 56 Alyesbury Road, in the Copnor area. A few streets away at 60 Portchester Road, North End lived my father's parents with his bachelor brother Eddie and spinster sister Hilda. His other brother Lesley and his wife lived in a house backing onto Fratton Park, the home of Portsmouth Football Club. All the homes were within long terraced houses with small front courtyards and short back gardens. Our back garden was dominated by an Anderson air raid shelter and adjacent to the back door was the outside WC complete with squares of newspaper on a string. Recycling was the order of the day. My grandfather kept 2 carrier bags hanging on the doorknob of the sitting room, one for neatly-tied pieces of string and the other for carefully-folded paper bags.
My short memories of Portsmouth have now dimmed with the passage of time, but some have remained. The occasion when playing with a lad over the street, whose father was a painter and decorator. We had a great time splashing paint around except my father, who spent ages trying to remove it from my hands and arms with paraffin. One Christmas day, we boys woke very early, as you do, and a toy drum woke up the whole family, perhaps the neighbours too. A major moment, experienced by many children throughout the country, was evacuation. I was at the Town Station, Portsmouth with many, many other children. It cannot be recalled whether my elder sister Mary and my younger brother Leonard were there too. We all had our gas masks in brown cardboard boxes, a parcel label on our collars probably with our names and where we were off to. No doubt we had a bag containing a change of clothes and toiletries, as we mingled around scared, but excited with an adventure to come. But it wasn't to be, for whatever reason, whether the trains were cancelled or it was just an exercise we returned home.
Maybe the defining moment for a move away from Portsmouth came when my infant school at the top of our road was hit in an air raid. We were shown the classroom with its rubbled remains and blackened beams. On some bad raids we would spend the whole night in the Anderson shelter. On one early morning my brother and I found ourselves on a milk float on our way to Emsworth. This took us to the home of our mother's parents. This was a first stage of our new family life in Westbourne during the early 1940's until my widowed mother left in 1998 to live with my family in Plymouth, Devon.
This web site started off a couple of decades ago by recording the first and later memories of my family life in the village. Since then it has grown to record an interest in the history of some people and notable events of Westbourne. I have found this later research fascinating and maybe you will too and visit again to see how it may have grown.