David Hallworth: A 7 year old’s account of World War II
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
David Hallworth, a 3-year-old when World War II broke out in 1939, recalls experiences he had from 1942 onwards. Upon hearing tapping against his window, 7-year-old Winton lad, David, didn’t know what to expect, and definitely didn’t imagine seeing the ghostly silhouette he witnessed.
“The barrage balloon what was near our house broke its harness and it’s flapping [against] the window. I said, “MuuuUuummMm! There’s something hitting the window’. Mum phoned them up, and they come and pulled it away. I was scared, I was only a young lad, 7-year-old.”
Dogfights between British and German aircraft were commonly witnessed by his friends and himself when they hung out on the grassy fields of Winton.
“Cleavley’s Playing field, where we played soccer and all that. The planes were coming over, chasing the german plane and then ‘bup bup bup bup bup’ (plane noises). You’re watching what’s happening up there, and that disappears ‘cause the pilot in that plane’s trying to keep steady. I run off the field! And my mates, ‘C’mon Dave, we’re going!’ You don’t stay there to watch it happen. Then all of a sudden, ‘bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb’, you know, in areas, in the industrial areas, bombs were dropped there. You could hear the explosions.”
They didn’t have an air raid shelter at home. Where he lived, they had one air raid shelter for the road. He recalls what it was like at school and at home as the siren blurted out across the town.
“Not at the house, at the bottom of the road. The bottom of the road is the air-raid shelter and we all went in. But the planes come over. German planes had a funny sound to them. And then the English [was] chasing him. You don’t see the German plane go down, but it moves, probably lands somewhere else.”
“You go to school, and when that bell starts to ring, well, it wasn’t a bell, it was a siren, ‘arrrrr’. That meant up and down into the underground places, it was all underground. It was a big area. But you got prepared for it. So that’s where we went, down there, underneath. And we still did our maths and English and that. *chuckling*”
Whether he was at school or at home, the teachers and the parents seemed to have only one objective in mind.
“They try to make you happy. ‘cause everybody known about the bombs. When the bombs started dropping, we’ve got to go underground. To keep you happy.”
You would think that experiences like these would dampen the spirits of the people, especially the kids as they quickly race to air raid shelters to protect themselves of the barrages of bombs being dropped from above, however with the singing of songs and homely food and loving company, their spirits stayed strong. I can just imagine the music and amalgamated voices as they echo throughout the town. A beautiful united sound amidst tragic unwavering circumstances.
“Air raid sirens go, [and we went] down underground and when you go underground, they’ve got it all worked out. You have your meals there, and singalongs, and all sorts. And *sarcastically* ‘never mind, you let him drop his bombs, we’ll be ‘round here, we’re alright.’”
David is the young boy on the far left