TOMORROW marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and for one resident, her memories of the war remain decades later, despite only being a young child at the time.

Ann Broad, nee Harley, who lives in Tadley, remembers spending her childhood in Berrylands, near Surbiton, where her rather rented a house during the war for the family to stay, away from their central London home.

The 84-year-old recalls having to crowd into a cupboard under the stairs during an air-raid warning whilst at a birthday party, and taking her gas mask to school in a box with her enamel mug for her milk at playtime.

“My strongest memory is of being crouched under the Morrison shelter listening to a buzz bomb (doodle bug/V1 rocket) coming over and knowing that if the engine noise stopped when it was overhead I would be killed. Trying my gas mask on one day, I thought to myself that if I ever had to wear it, it would be dust that got me rather than gas.

“The V2 bombs didn’t worry me because you couldn’t hear them until they landed and then it as too late to worry,” she said.

Ann, who is now a retired after spending her career as a teacher, said she remembers having to go down into the shelters on several occasions, which ran alongside a playing field of a primary school.

When she was eight, Ann became an evacuee with another girl aged 12, and they both travelled by train to Cardiff in South Wales.

“Later I heard that two trains had somehow got mixed up and in fact we should have gone to Devon,” she said, adding: “Arriving in Cardiff, my next memory is of being in a hall where the local people came and picked out the children they were willing to look after. Beryl and I were chosen by a Mr and Mrs Davis, who had two older children, Alan who was in the Royal Navy and Elsie who had her 21st birthday whilst I was staying there.

“Mr Davis was an engine driver and we all lived in their terraced house in Llanishen Street, Heath, Cardiff. The first two or three nights were awful, I suffered terrible homesickness, made worse by the fact that my suitcase had been lost (it turned up later) and I had to sleep in my vest and knickers. Also, there were three of us in a double bed, Elsie, Beryl and I – and I had always had my own bed at home.”

Once Ann got over the initial shock, she began to enjoy her new life, attending a local junior school.

She said: “Mrs Davis wasn’t as strict as my mother about attending school and I had one afternoon off when she took me to the cinema to see a famous film star, Bing Crosby, in a film called Going My War. My mother would not have approved.”

Ann celebrated her ninth birthday as an evacuee, and the Davis family gave her a party, but it ended in tears after Ann got her finger crushed in a sash window.

Her mother visited her a couple of times, but Ann said this only made her homesick afterwards, adding: “My parents wrote letters to me and I wrote to them. Three of my letters have survived and you can see copies. My dad also sent me some chocolate he made for me because he knew how much I loved chocolate. It came in a flat tin and was a much paler colour than bought chocolate but it was lovely and especially so because my father had made it for me.”

Ann returned home after four months, and said she enjoyed the “evacuation adventure very much”.

In 1990 Ann returned to Cardiff for the first time since 1944. She found the house where she stayed and the school she attended.

In a chance meeting, Ann ended up bumping into Elsie, the daughter of Mrs Davis, who still lived in the house.

“She put her hand on my arm and said ‘What is your name?’ I told her and she said ‘I’m Elsie’. What a coincidence meeting her again. It made my return visit complete.”

*Ann told her memories of WW2 to Tadley Learning Centre, which published the full transcript on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website. She has given permission for her story to be published in the Gazette.