My mother was widowed in April 1947, our father had died at the age of 31 after contracting tuberculosis three years earlier. We did not see much of him as he was far away in a sanatorium. My mother also contracted the ghastly disease and was hospitalised for several years. I was raised – until I was 8 – by my maternal grandmother, and my brother Christopher stayed with an aunt and uncle. I was 4 when my father died and my brother was only 2.
These sad events were undoubtedly the reason our family – now somewhat diminished – was selected to be the beneficiaries of such kindness from our “American friends.”
I must have been at our home in Dartford, Kent when the first package from the US arrived, and I remember the overwhelming excitement as we opened it and out tumbled all these amazing goodies. My 4-year-old memory seems to recall a very large tin of cling, sliced peaches, tins of peas, potatoes, evaporated milk and packs of cereal. My grandmother broke down into sobs of disbelief and I was both elated and confused. I wonder if there was a pair of gloves and a scarf in there too – or did I just imagine that?