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Brian David Williams

Growing up in Birmingham, 1935–1946

Excerpts from my childhood diary:

at home and at Hartfield Crescent Junior School, Acocks Green


My first diary was for 1943, begun when I was only 7. Alas, I stuck Wills’ Fishes in its pages, then trimmed the cigarette cards to fit the rather narrower diary pages, resulting in fishes with trimmed heads or attenuated tails. It subsequently went for salvage to help the war effort.

  I have recently expanded some of these childhood diary entries, especially those of wartime events, with newspaper reports from the time (thanks to staff at Birmingham reference library for their help) and other reflections. These “retrospective” passages are marked with a coloured bar like this.

 
1935
  • Arrival
  • Born prematurely
  • Circumcised
  • Baptised
  • Not sucking a dummy
1936
  • Death of King George V
  • A terrible accident
  • Always the same nightmare
1937
  • Not talking
  • Something behind the wardrobe
1938
  • Urticaria
  • Great Granma
1939
  • Who is Rose?
  • Chatterbox
  • Grandad’s garden
  • Trains
  • The outbreak of war
  • Telling the time
  • I have a baby sister
1940
  • Painting the kerbs
  • Savings campaign
  • Great-granma is dead
  • The Evacuees are returning
  • Clarice christened
  • Royal Visit
  • Churchill Prime Minister
  • Working round the clock
  • All clear
  • August Bank holiday
  • Start of the bombing
  • Castle Bromwich bombed
  • Under the stairs
  • The Market Hall destroyed
  • Inferno
  • A terrible raid
  • Carlton Cinema hit
  • Daylight raid
  • Sailor suit
  • Plane crash at Stechford
  • Neville Chamberlain is dead
  • Daylight raid
  • Worst raid yet
  • Coventry in ruins
  • A terrible raid
  • We are bombed out
  • Another terrible raid
  • Biggest raid yet
  • 13 hours Air Raid
  • Great-granma Williams has died
1941
  • The city centre destroyed
  • Good Friday
  • A new home
  • The garden
  • All round the Circle
  • Neighbours
  • Coalhouse in the kitchen
  • Acocks Green Village
  • Fox Hollies Park
  • Hartfield Crescent
  • Another baby sister
  • Visit of Winston Churchill
  • St. Mary’s Church
1942
  • A party at Digbeth Institute
  • 7 today
  • I join the Cubs
  • St. George and the Woggle
  • Bedtime Stories
1943
  • My diary
  • Good Friday
  • God
  • Mrs. Williams-Walker
  • At Hartfield Crescent School
  • Sir Oswald Mosley
  • A strange sight in the sky
  • Knock-Out
1944
  • Stars from Mrs. Wright
  • A plane has crashed at Digbeth
  • A baby brother
  • The Union Jack
  • D-Day
  • Lights in the sky
  • Termination
  • God will heal Mammy
  • I want to be a teacher
  • I am 9
  • History book
  • 77 air raids
  • The Radio Doctor
  • Film Fun
1945
  • Russia — a funny feeling
  • Top of the class
  • Nervous
  • Today’s special date
  • Lloyd George is dead
  • A secret society
  • Secret of the numbers
  • Mussolini killed
  • Hitler is dead
  • VE Day
  • Winston Churchill
  • Caned at school
  • Consciousness
  • Entrance exam tests
  • Labour win!
  • 10 today
  • The atom bomb
  • VJ Day
  • Rhyl
  • This Happy Breed
  • Engine numbers
  • First visit to St. Andrews
  • The Blues score 8
  • Grammar School exams
  • Numerology
1946
  • Birmingham City football
  • I sit for the High School
  • Birmingham City champions
  • Rationing
  • Victory stamps
  • Very rude
  • Scouts Rally
  • Lowestoft
  • Blue Mail, pink Argus
  • Blues in Division II
  • First day at Camp Hill
  • Tuberculosis
  • Death of Granma
  • Tripe and onions
  • A small fortune unclaimed
 
By contrast, the diary for 1947–1953, covering my years at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, is much more extensive and is here on the web, reproduced in its entirety.


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