Growing Up in 1940s War-Torn England
Growing Up in 1940s War-Torn England
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Not yet eighteen years of age, I was allowed to leave the office early before the nightly bombing began in earnest. Walking down the street on my way to the railway station, suddenly I found myself high up on a spiked metal fence outside an office building. An angry air-raid warden yelled at me, “What are you doing climbing up there when an air raid is in progress? Why aren’t you in that shelter on the other side of the street under that eh, eh …” Building, he was about to say, when he saw that it was no longer there, just a huge cavity where the large office building with the shelter in the basement had been. Many workers were killed there. Then he turned his attention back to me as I was clamoring to be helped down. “Why are you up there?” he exclaimed in irritation. Mad as hell, I asked him how did he think I got up there by myself, hurting as I was and afraid I would soon be undressed, the iron spike of the fence having pierced the collar of my coat, and it was a long fall to the pavement. Needless to say I was as surprised as he was. How did I get there then?
On August 8, 1940, I was high up on a ladder painting the trim of our upstairs bedroom windows while my father was painting the lower windows at the back of the house. Suddenly I yelled out to my father excitedly exclaiming that a mock air battle was going on above us."Get down off that ladder immediately!" My father called back to me, "that is no mock battle, it's a real one!".Thus began the famous Battle of Britain. As I watched from the garden I saw German planes curling up pouring forth smoke and flames as they fell to the ground while the pilots baled out in their parachutes.Fortunately they fell in the fields beyond our back garden. The heavy German planes were no match for our fast little Spitfires which though fewer in number won the day. My father picked up a shovel and joined several neighbors who ran out to round up the pilots as they parachuted to the ground behind out house.
Joyce Holgate Demille was born in London, England in May 1923. Educated, in England, Norway and summer school in Neuchatel, Switzerland. According to FSU, matriculation from high school in London, England at age 16 was equivalent to 2 or more years of college in the USA. At age 17 drafted to work in London at war office, commuting from suburbs, secretary in department of Norwegian Navy, Norwegian Shipping Department, and later BBC Overseas Department, beamed to underground workers in Norway, until the end of the war. Went to Norway to see how old friends had fared under occupation and worked as a secretary in the British Embassy in Oslo When stress from commuting during bombing finally caught up with her, left to spend time with parents in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, where her father had been sent by the World Bank to help reconstruct the German economy. Worked in Reconstruction Loan Corporation (run by her father, Dr. H.C. F. Holgate) as a translator for a while. Met her husband, Cecil (Ces) DeMille, a sergeant in the US Air Force who made her laugh again. Married Ces in Shipton-under-Wychwood, in the Cotswold hills in England on October 6, 1951. They arrived in Georgia September 1952 where she worked as a Legal secretary in Valdosta. Georgia. Their daughter, Beryl, was born in March 1954 at Moody Air Force Base. When husband Ces was studying at Florida State University in Tallahassee, she worked as secretary to Millard Caldwell, former Governor of Florida until sent for by her father in England who was sick and wished to see her and the baby before he died. On her return to the States a few months later she worked as a secretary at the University of Florida where her husband was a student. When her husband’s tour of duty in the Air Force finished, he found work in Thomasville, Georgia and she worked as a Court Reporter in the Court House in Thomasville. Joyce became a United States citizen on October 6 in Albany, Georgia. She worked as a secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture , Market News, in Thomasvillle, Georgia, retiring from there after 22 years. She later worked for the State of Georgia. At age 55 she became a long-distance runner, winning many 5, 10 and 15K races in her age group, and 2 mini-marathons when 60. She was an active member of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Thomasville, Ga. from 1957 to date. Her 23 yr. old grandson lives with his parents Larry and Beryl Westlake in Lakeland, Florida. Her husband Ces spent his last ten years as a patient in Skilled Nursing in the Presbyterian Home in Quitman, Georgia where he died on April 5, 2004. She was Secretary-Treasurer of the Thomasville Running Club, Secretary-Treasurer of NARFE (National Association of Retired Federal Employees) in Thomasville, served as Auxiliary President of T.L. Spence American Legion Post 31 in Thomasville. Member of Tallahassee Chapter of National Secretaries Association (International). Enjoys gardening, knitting , and reading. In print: wrote 2 pages of Professor Ray Barfield’s book, ‘Listening to Radio 1920-1950’.
Thank You!! What a story life!! How did she remember it ALL?...'an such details!...Talk about SURVIVING!!....An' then in 50's & 60's running!! STRONG of mind, spirit & LIFE!! Jack

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