Peace is a precious commodity but greatly undervalued. It is in human
nature to be at war with whoever annoys us regardless of the consequences. And
so it was that my awareness of life came about in the throws of war as I was in
my fourth year when the Second World War began.
Boys who know no other life adapt very quickly to the conditions and meld
in and take for granted what parents thought would be unbearable for them. We were
able to bear it in England
because we were not occupied, unlike our European neighbours and an uncanny
optimism that told us that everything would be all right.
We were however bombed throughout the war especially the industrial
cities, docks and military establishments. As it is in such a small island few
areas escaped the onslaught as bombs not able to be dropped on the target would
be dropped anywhere to lighten the load for the enemy bombers on the way
Children still need to play in war and in peace and thus they get accustomed to a different
way of life. Why should we laugh less with a war on? So our bargaining tools
were bomb fragments and shell casings, our toys were planes and tanks or we
whizzed around the school playground with arms outstretched mimicking aircraft
in the skies. We only stopped laughing when an uncle died in a foreign field or
hot desert. But laughter was resumed as relatives came to stay for the duration
in your home because theirs had been bombed out and they had nowhere else to
live; because for us it was a holiday.
News broadcast on the radio or in the papers would not be specific but vague when bombed cities were not named
and losses in battle not counted. Retreats were a victory of sorts as those
that escaped could fight another day. Propaganda was the lie that we embraced
as truth is far too terrible. Thus the dissemination of propaganda as a political strategy was thought to be
not a bad thing if it calmed the population and gave them hope.
was that during the early days of war when things were at their worst that an
anonymous postcard artist with a pen name of Dinah started creating postcards
with positive messages about the war using cartoon children often in uniform to
show us we could win the war.
early cards even had quotes from the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill
urging the nation on. With this attitude there never was any doubt that Britain would
not be conquered despite the hardships. Peace was inevitable.
Reverse of a Dinah postcard with extract from one of Winston Churchill's speeches