Sunday, December 11, 2011

Barrow in Furness

I've been rereading Nella Last's War, which is taken from the diary of a middle-aged housewife during WWII. I've read a number of first-hand accounts of life in those turbulent times, but this is my favorite.

Aged 49 in 1939 with a difficult husband and two grown sons, the book provides a front row seat to her reactions as events unfold as well as her observations on those around her. It feels real because it was. Volunteering became a vital part of her life by working in the WVS (Women's Voluntary Service), the canteen (to feed the soldiers and sailors passing through or stationed there), and the Red Cross shop (selling donated items to raise funds to provide parcels to P.O.W.s). Added to all this was the strain of having her youngest off fighting, the worry of making do with very restrictive rationing and inflation, and the horror of heavy bombing.

Barrow in Furness was (and is) a port with a major ship-building yard. That made it a prime target during the blitz. Today I googled the location and, while looking at the images, found myself doing a double-take. Furness Abbey looked very familiar....


and there it was in pictures I had taken on my 2004 visit. On that same day I was in Barrow where I saw a submarine in the ship-building yard...


Talk about having history come to life! I wish I had known about Nella's book then.

1 comment:

Tanya Walton said...

I think it's great when you can experience something first hand....you did it backwards this time round but in a way i think that makes it a bit more special....now when reading the book you know you can REALLY immerse yourself in the place you are reading about.