Here is the second short story by Joy Micallef. This truly special story spans many years and visits Malta, Portsmouth, Prussia Cove and Coverack. A big thank you to Joy for sharing this.
The year was 1940. World War II was underway after the first few months of suspense when nothing seemed to happen. My parents, my sister Mollie and I were spending a holiday in England in 1939. Our home was in Malta where I was born.
We were staying with an aunt in Portsmouth when war was declared and within a week my father was recalled to Malta. He worked for the Admeraety and was in charge of the floating Dock at Valletta. We had to remain in England as all the British citizens were being evacuated from the island.
I was 15 when the Blitz began, and after the bombing in Portsmouth, my mother rented a house just over Portsdown Hill, where there was a school for me. It seemed a quiet place. We were wrong.
We didn’t realize that there was a huge row of ack ack guns all along the hilltop, and the noise became full of shrapnel and we had no air raid shelter. We remained there for a year, then a friend in Cornwall wrote to tell us of a house in Prussia Cove where it was utterly peaceful. No more spending nights under the staires or being pushed under the grand piano! Even at sixteen I fell in love with Cornwall. Even the rainy and blowy, foggy damp days.
Mollie was 25, and conscripted for war work in Bath. She was due to begin her new job within 3 months, so we decided to work on a farm for the summer. Harry Skewes at Chiverton hired us. Mollie and I had lived our happy sunshine lives in Malta, so at first it was quite hard for us, but we had a lot of fun and the other workers were so friendly.
The shire horses ploughed the fields and churned up the lovely white potatoes, and we filled the baskets. We were able to straighten up while waiting for the horse to come back down the row, but when picking up the lovely little while turnips we were bending down all the time- oh the pain! However we got used to it eventually and gorged our pasties at lunch time like there were no tomorrow. My mother made a huge one for us with vegetables inside, instead of met which was rationed. We also feasted on the little turnips while Harry wasn’t looking!
Harry was 17 ½ and very strong. He commanded a lot of respect from his workers, although most were more than twice his age. I don’t think he noticed me!
I was called up for national service at 18 ½ and got a job on a farm in Perranoethnoe. Finally when peace was declared I returned with my family to a much-bombed Malta and lost touch with Cornwall.
How could I know that 68 years later Harry and I would meet again and happily share our lives together in Coverack.