It’s my pleasure to host colleague and fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Robbie Cheadle, to our Fiora Books site today. Please support this gifted author.
The benefits of living on a farm during the war
While the bombs fell is a collaboration between my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton, and me and tells a fictionalized account of her life as a small girl growing up in the small English town of Bungay, Suffolk during World War II.
Life for the children of a farmer in England during the war brought a lot of benefits compared to city and other children.
The greatest good fortune for my mother and her family was that, as a farmer, their father was exempt from fighting in the war. Farmers, like firefighters, medical practitioners and policemen, were considered to provide an essential service to the nation. All the other men in the town, between the ages of eighteen and forty-one years old, were obliged to enlist in the army and their families were left to fend for themselves while they were away.
Another advantage of living on a dairy farm was that the family suffered no shortage of milk. As an agricultural worker doing a heavy manual job, my grandfather also received extra cheese rations, although other luxuries like butter were in short supply.
The children were also able to supplement their diet with other food sources such as the occasional egg from a swan and eels from the river as per the following extract:
“After tea, Wendy set a fishing line which she left overnight. She was excellent at this and frequently caught an eel or two. She dug for worms in the kitchen garden to bait the line.
The green-brown eels looked like snakes, but they tasted delicious, cooked in milk and water in a frying pan and flavoured with pepper.
Elsie hoped that Wendy would catch some eels for them to eat. In the morning, Wendy would run down to the river to see what she had caught.”
Their father was also able to supplement their table with game, especially rabbits, which often came onto his land. My grandmother would make a rabbit stew to feed her large family of two adults and six children and a baby.
The following extract explains how my grandmother made her rabbit stews:
“She cut the rabbit into joints using her knife and put it to soak in a bowl of cold water with one
tablespoon of vinegar. After thirty minutes she removed the pieces from the water and dried them well with a cloth.
Mother mixed a small amount of flour with salt and pepper and coated every piece of the rabbit with the mixture. In a large pot on the paraffin heater, she heated a small amount of lard, a white animal fat, and the rinds of two rashers of bacon, when available. She then added the coated rabbit joints and cooked them for about ten minutes until they were golden brown. The meat in the pot sizzled and fried, and it smelled good.
Mother removed the rabbit from the pot and added two rashers of chopped bacon, if she could get it, as well as two medium onions, cut into slices, and three medium carrots, chopped into pieces. After she sautéed the vegetables and bacon for approximately five minutes, she returned the rabbit to the pot. She added water and one grated apple. Wendy would help Mother stir the liquid as it came to the boil and thickened slightly. Finally, Mother added gravy salts and whole peeled potatoes and allowed the stew in the pot to simmer for about three hours until lunchtime. The family heartily appreciated rabbit stew as a mid-day meal.”
From both a family and food, perspective, my mother and her siblings were a lot more fortunate than many other children, a lot of whom were evacuated from London during the blitz and had to live with strangers, not all of whom treated them well.
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air-raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle-grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s books are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
- Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
- Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
- Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Roberta Eaton Cheadle
AMAZON OR OTHER PURCHASE LINKS: