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The beginning of World War Two
on the home front in north London

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I was born in April 1937, and the family home was in Edmonton in north London. Although my father (like many others) had been out of work for most of 1926 and off and on afterwards, by the time I was born he was in a steady job. Indeed, in 1939, the year war was declared, my parents had been planning their first overseas holiday, on a weekly wage of £5. How things have changed!

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The air raid siren, the alert and the all-clear

Even when I was quite small, father would take me out for walks on Sunday mornings, and it was on one of these walks, in September 1939, that I first heard an air raid siren. We had been to Tatem's Park, in Edmonton, situated on the north west corner of the junction of what is now the A10 and the A406, and were walking home along Hedge Lane, approaching the 'Cambridge' roundabout - since repositioned and very much enlarged. For some years, during the 1970's, the houses alongside the Cambridge Pub, which gave the roundabout its name, were bought up and remained empty in preparation for the alterations.

Anyway, just as we were passing underneath the (presumably newly installed) siren, it went off. An wail which rose and fell every few seconds meant that planes were coming and to take cover, and a continuous wail sounded the 'all clear'. I think it was actually on September 3rd, the day when war was declared, and I think it must have been a test, or perhaps it was to signal the declaration. Anyway, we hurried home.

In 1939 an information leaflet on the siren and what to do when it sounded was distributed to the public.

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1939 on the home front

Nothing much happened on the Edmonton home front during the rest of 1939, as far as I recall. I remember a discussion about evacuation, and my parents' decision that we would all stay together at home. At that time I was an only child. The house, a terraced house in Cheddington Road on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton, was small, but snug and comfortable, and we had a happy life. If my parents were worried about the war they didn't show it. The only thing of particular note was that my father repositioned the door into my bedroom so that it was immediately next to theirs instead of being along the landing.

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Page contributed by John Cole