Welcome all you air raid wardens, and Home Guard members. Put out that light, and turn your radio up. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I’m waiting for a call. I hope everything is okay.
“Hello. Yes, I’ll accept the charges. Haven’t heard of a collect call in a long time.”
“Hello … hello… is that Lisa?”
“This is Lisa. I was getting worried about you, Elsie. Is everything okay?
“I’m calling from our bomb shelter in the garden. The air raid siren went off just as I was calling you. I could hear the sound of the Jerry bombers in the distance as we climbed down the stairs. I am glad Father and Mother are here with me, I’m scared.”
“Thank God for the long cable. For those of us who don’t know, what’s it like in a bomb shelter?”
“Father and some helpers built our bomb shelter from sheets of galvanized corrugated steel which they inserted into a deep hole they dug in the garden. The steps leading into the shelter and the floor are made of concrete which makes it really cold down here. It is damp and the walls drip with water. It is crowded when we are all in here, Father, Mother with baby, Teddy, my older sisters, Jean, Wendy and Gillian and my older brothers, Joey and Reggie. We all sit on wooden benches along the two sides of the shelter and wait until the “all clear” siren sounds. Sometimes we have to sit here for a long time and Mother and my sisters knit socks for the war effort.
“I don’t like coming down here but it is better than being inside the house when the Jerry planes are flying over. Reggie and Joey told me that Bungay, that is the town where I live in Suffolk, was bombed when I was two years old. I don’t remember it as I was too young but they said the seven bombs were dropped by a Jerry bomber plane. They said the bangs were so loud it hurt your ears and all the windows in Earsham Street blew out.
“I also overheard Granny King telling Mother about the bombing of Norwich in the Spring. There were huge fires in the city and lots of people were killed and houses were destroyed. I don’t want my house destroyed. I hate Hitler. He is like an old witch all dressed in black and Granny King says he eats black bread.”
“It sounds like you’re doing well under the circumstances. It must be hard to live your normal life considering all that.”
“We are lucky, Lisa. We live on a farm and not in a city. Lots of the children living in the cities have been evacuated into the country and have to live with strangers. I live with my family and Father hasn’t been called up to fight in the war because he is a farmer. His job is to stay on the farm and look after his cows so that the people living in Bungay can have fresh milk every day. Father’s helpers had to go away to fight in the war and now Father has Mavis to help him on the farm. She is a land girl. Father was worried when he heard she was coming but she works very hard and is strong too. Joey and Reggie also help Father to milk the cows every day and to bottle the milk. Mavis mucks out the cow stalls though.
“We have more food to eat than people living in the cities and lots of milk and eggs. Mother says I must be grateful to have eggs to eat because they are rationed and most people have to eat powdered eggs if they get any eggs at all. I don’t like the eggs. They smell of fish and it makes me feel sick. Mother is very good at making the family good things to eat with the rations we have, vegetables from the garden and the rabbits that Father sometimes shoots on the farm. My sisters and I helped her make a delicious rabbit stew last week. It was so good and Mother made a suet pudding to go with it. There was so left over so we ate it with a bit of golden syrup for afters.
“Joey and Reggie often feel hungry when they go to bed. I don’t feel hungry because I am much smaller than they are and don’t have to walk a mile to school and back every day and help Father with the farm work.”
“Rationing sounds tough. Still, living on a farm does put you in a better position than some. You can have a garden, and the Nazis might be aiming more at the cities.”
“Yes, we have only been bombed that one time here in Bungay. The people living in London are bombed all the time. I would be even more scared if I lived there. We are lucky as we have a big American airbase nearby called RAF Bungay. Some of the men are billeted in canvas tents on Bungay Common. It does make me feel safer.
“Everyone in Bungay is very proud and excited about our own “Bungay Buckaroos” and their contribution of the German bombing campaign. The American aviators have better food rations than the British soldiers and they also have cigarettes, Wrigley’s chewing gum and nylon stockings. The girls all hope to have an American boyfriend so that they can have a pair of nylons. Sometimes my brothers and the other ask them for gum. They say “any gum, chum?” and sometimes one of the soldiers gives them a piece.
“Now that the Americans have joined the war, Father says we can’t lose.”
“That sounds positive.”
“It is, and it can’t go on forever. We are all very proud of Mr. Churchill, he is a great leader, and now that the Americans are helping, Father thinks the war will end soon. I don’t know what it will be like when the war ends but I hope I can have sweets every week and we can have a bigger fire. Ours is so small and I am cold all the time.”
“I am sorry you are often cold and hungry, but it sounds like the war won’t go on for much longer. You keep your head down, Elsie, and we’ll all wish you the best. Any closing remarks for our listeners today? We ought to wrap this up before the phones go down.”
“Thank you for speaking to me, Lisa. The “all clear” siren has just sounded so we are going back to our house. Goodbye and have a lovely evening.”
“You can read all about Elsie and her family in the book, While the Bombs Fell, by Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton. I’ll post all the details on the website after we go off the air.
“Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons today. Even a simple tweet or Facebook share can really help an author out. I’m sure Robbie and Elsie would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War II?
Elsie and her family live in a small double story cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signaling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite, the war raging across the English Channel, daily life must continue with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its scary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic WWII recipes.
Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, is now available.
You can catch up with Robbie at the following locations:
Purchase Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Books from: