Don McDouall's Story
My name is Don McDouall. I was one of the countless, who left their
homes forever that Friday, before the war started!
I was 4years old...going on 5. Having been separated from my kin, I
found myself billeted in the Village of East Hanney [then in
Berkshire.] I guess I was one of the less fortunate...I remember
hunger...cold...the continuous beatings.
I remember the day after V.E. day when I ran away once more... this
time to be returned to a `Home`. I remember the terrible 2 years I spent
in a home for the unwanted in Bourne End, Bucks.
I remember the L.C.C. officer who told me that I had no sisters alive, no
mother or father alive...when I was 14.
I remember the `ice-e-ness`I felt after waiting to go home after a long 10 years.
But I also remember a certain old man, who was my childhood
soulmate... I remember the `Cowslips`... The smell of the springtime
rain... The sound of a `Thrush`...The `red-throated Sticklebacks in
the village pond.
I also remember my childhood sweetheart! I`ve been gone now some
fifty years come next February. I live in Ongerup W.A., Australia.
Recently, I found that I still had 2 sisters and a brother, alive and
well in the U.K. So all 4 of us outlived most of our tormentors.
Perhaps I sound bitter?...no not really...I just hope history does
not keep repeating itself.
My start in life...was not the best, evidently 'Dad' took off to the
Spanish civil war in '37 & was never heard of again.
I remember very little of my life up to 1.9.39.
I was evacuated with my eldest sister Esther...but the powers that
be, of that time...made sure I never ended up at the same place...Oh
no! I'm with another little kid in East Hanney...My sister is with
this kid's sister in Swindon...so much for keeping families together.
So I find myself living with an oldish couple. The man did his best to
protect me from his wife, but I guess he didn`t really want to 'rock
the boat' so I started a life of drudgery... getting hidings every
day for wetting the bed...being told each day I wasn't wanted...That
my mother was no good, & so on.
If I wasn't at school I was working, if not working, then we 2 kids
would search the dust bins and gardens for something to eat.
So I grew up & soon learned to fend for myself.
I learnt quickly ..Not to get 'Too friendly' with grown men & women.
End result was sexual abuse. My Mum never came to see me...The war
ended .. I spent a few really nice months in the home know as
'Poundcroft' The matron was really kind...Then it was on to the
desolation of 'The Homestead' What a ridiculous name for such an
unfriendly place... There was more abuse, but you didn't get walloped
for bed wetting. I realized by now my Mum didn't want me.
I was billeted back in East Hanney.. My tormentor was now dead.
After running away a few more times.. My 'welfare officer' told me I
was wasting my time looking for my family...They were all dead.
I met a wonderful girl when I was 16 years old...Came out to Australia
at age 17. Hoping to make my fortune, go back & live happily ever
after... but it was not to be.
My youngest sister June, was in an orphanage until she was 7 years
old, then was billeted out... she too copped the lot as it were.
Esther was lucky, she had nice foster parents.
So the three of us wandered through our lives thinking the others
were dead. By sheer luck [another story] we stumbled on each other
back in late `98.
I have written a book on my childhood... published it
myself...perhaps one day it will be read by many.
I`ve very fond memories of Pommy Fish`an chips.
I can't recollect much about these establishments while the war was
on...never went anywhere much, or had any money...But! after I left
school in`49 us young louts would get on the bus to Wantage & first
stand in the queue at the picture show...afterwoods it was ... Go &
stand in another queue that eventually lead you into the vinegar
soaked atmosphere of the `Fish`n`chip shop...Your tanner would get
you a lump of some marine animal [what it really was gawd knows]
& a great steaming mess of chips...all wrapped up in hot greasy
newspaper... there was salt & vinegar everywhere...
But it was heaven to eat it all while hopping from one foot to the
other, trying to get frozen toes to come to life again, while you stood
in another queue ... waiting for the bus home.
Yeh, I know such food wasn`t good for `ee`... but I still `drool`
remembering the smells & tastes.
Incidentally, I found out that the same shop 50 years later still sell
fish`n`chips ... It was famous with the Yanks from `Grove` airstrip
during the war & is now a tourist attraction for Yankee veterans visiting the UK.
G`day. Gerry and the rest of you