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I was born 71 years ago in a mining town in South West Durham, by Jean Stoves

I was born 71 years ago in a mining town in South West Durham. My father in the early years of World War 2 worked for the local authority and he was the central billeting officer responsible for 'homing' the evacuees who came from the Wardley, Jarrow and Gateshead areas. Twin girls were allocated to our home and became an integral part of our family, being present at my 5th birthday in 1940.

My father went on to serve in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in Nottinghamshire, eventually being demobbed in 1946 after time spent in Egypt. My abiding memory of his leaves were 'don't cry Jean' as he went. We waved him off at the railway station and then we both broke our hearts as the train disappeared into the distance. The railway station no longer exists and is now a car park.

My grandfather was a mason, working for a local builder, and was employed in 1940 building air raid shelters in the infant school playground. As a small child, I thought it was wonderful to go and see granddad at playtimes- he was still working at 70 years old. He also did his bit, as he said, for the war effort by growing vegetables in an allotment as so many others did.

My mother was a hairdresser and had a business in the family home in a converted room. We had a large army camp near us and I remember the officers' batmen coming to make appointments for their haircuts. How she managed without a telephone- can you imagine it today? She also cut the hair of many young children who were housed in a big home with a matron and a sister and nurses- these children had been sent from the London area. The home now I believe houses the other end of the spectrum- caring for the elderly.

I, like many other children in the war, didn't take an 'active' part but the memories today are an indelible part of our make up. My family were the lucky ones, all our loved ones returned home after World War 2, not everyone was so lucky- so many friends of my parents lost sons and brothers. One thing is for certain - when I enter nostalgia areas/ museums, I would never attempt to put on a gas mask. I can remember so vividly that smell and the sense of claustrophobia. I think that has stayed with me and will do until my dying day.