The War and Me – Gwen Preece neé Graham (W&M68)
Our oral history project, The War and Me, continues to thrive and adapt under the current circumstances, with a switch from face-to-face interviews to virtual or telephone interviews and the receipt of eight new written accounts.
One of our latest interviewees, Gwen Preece neé Graham (W&M68) remembered vividly the air raids on Belfast when she sheltered with her mother and siblings under the stairs. During the raid she went upstairs to look out the bathroom window at the planes in the sky. The actual destruction of the air raids did not hit her until she travelled along the Antrim Road in the days following the Blitz when she saw that the area was devastated. She recalled seeing the ruins of her church and her mother silently crying as they drove past the rubble and bombed out buildings. That day, Gwen was making her way to Ballymena where, along with her mother and sister, she was to stay with her great aunt and uncle.
Gwen disliked life in the countryside as she struggled to make friends being the only evacuee in the class. However, she shared some lovely memories of riding her bicycle around the countryside and her best friend, a Collie dog called Jack, which her father gave her. She told us that she was glad to get back home to Belfast. She remembered friendly American soldiers giving her chewing gum as well as dancing at a special concert on the Lisburn Road. Gwen is keeping safe and healthy during lockdown and is using this time as an opportunity to read the latest Hilary Mantel novel.
Do you have any memories of the Blitz or being evacuated? 🗣 If you or a loved one are interested in sharing your story like Gwen, please get in touch with our Oral History Project Co-ordinator on 07588 634847 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.