I suppose compared to a lot I had what you might call a ‘good war’. All right, Jack went off to t’army day after our wedding, but lots of lasses had that. And then there were rationing, t’blackout, occasional air-raids, shortages and what-not that everybody had to put up with. But I had good stuff that lots of folk didn’t.
For a start I had my job at t’mill, and it were a good ‘un an’ all. Before t’war they might have made me leave once I were wed. But there were no question of that. They needed as many as they could get. And t’boss knew how good I were. He made me an overseer, so the money were quite good – and wi’ a lot of hours, too. Well, we had more work than we could cope with. War work, of course, making cloth for uniforms. And when I weren’t working I could always go to t’pictures with me best pal, Elsie. She were in love wi’ Cary Grant, but I preferred Bogey. Sometimes we went dancing. We danced with each other unless a dishy man asked. But nothing I couldn’t tell my Jack about when I wrote to him. And, despite t’rationing, me Mam were a dab-hand at making good meals out of whatever we could get.
No – t’war weren’t that bad.
It were t’peace that got me.
You see, when my Jack were demobbed and came home, he weren’t my Jack any more. He’d changed. Totally. All right, I knew he’d been wounded by a shell on D-Day. But I thought he’d recovered from that. And so he had, physically. But it had left him, well, I suppose, mentally damaged. I don’t think it had shown up much while he were still in t’army, though I believe they’d noticed something and treated him a bit. But that had been useless and left him suspicious of doctors. So I had a right job trying to get him to t’doctor when he were back home.
I mean, it were obvious to me from t’start. He used to be full of fun and mischief and always wanting to go out and do things. That had all gone. He just used to sit at home and listen to music on the radio.. Or do nowt at all. Wouldn’t take me out. Wouldn’t even look for a job. Said he were no good at owt. And the nightmares. He used to shout and scream half the night sometimes. Even in t’day he’d get delusions and think he were in a battle. Never got any better. That Alice Jackson said I were lucky. At least my husband had come home. I telled her, ‘Aye, my husband came home. But I lost my Jack on D-Day’.
By John Emms