Social History From The Loft

Ian, whom Becky had collected to join us yesterday, drove off early this morning to bring his father Peter and stepmother Ally to join the party in time for lunch.

Knowing full well that I would want it, Becky asked me yesterday whether I knew anyone who would like:Warwinter coverthat had been among the many items of interest Flo had found in their loft at Emsworth.

Warwinter slipcase

Beautifully bound, in a split slipcase, stamped with the number 37, this is a portfolio of an edition, limited to 50, remembering:Warwinter 001Warwinter 002

Four of the reproductions are missing. It is to be hoped that they now adorn someone’s wall.

Warwinter Illustration 2

We have No. 2 ‘Townspeople returning from the country with potatoes’

Warwinter Illustration 3

3 ‘The transfer of food from country to town was prohibited’

Warwinter Illustration 4

4 ‘Evacuation ordeal. People rescued their property by every available means’

Warwinter Illustration 5

5 ‘The seventeenth century type barge was the only means of travel’

Warwinter Illustration 7

7 ‘Lack of coal, lighting and food meant communal kitchens’

Warwinter Illustration 8

8 ‘One small stove in every house for cooking, washing and heating’

Warwinter Illustration 11

11 ‘Strange vehicles were used for transport’

Warwinter Illustration 12

12 ‘Trees disappeared during the night’

Warwinter Illustration 13

13 “Haven’t you got any food us?”

Warwinter Illustration 14

14 ‘Our food: sugar beet and bulbs’

We, in the UK, remember that we were subjected to the blitz, as we term the Second World War bombing, but, by and large, we have no knowledge of what the European occupation was like. This set of pictures is a poignant reminder of life in Holland towards the end.

Nine Naughty Nigger BoysBefore the war Black people were rarely seen in England, and immediately afterwards, judging by the dreadful reception of the first Jamaican immigrants who came over on the ‘Windrush’, we seem to have forgotten those, such as the airmen who had fought on our side. It was the consequent ignorance that enabled the letter N to be featured as it was in another of Flo’s findings: First Alphabet and Jingle Book with pictures by Nora S. Unwin and jingles by H.S. Bennett published by The National Magazine Company Ltd. This would not be acceptable today.

Because of the date written inside the front board, Becky had thought I may have possessed one of these as a child. It was of course possible. The inscription inside this one tells us that it was given to Peter by Joy and Susan for Christmas 1946.

A certain amount of hot-bedding went on this evening, because Mat and Tess returned home this afternoon, making way for Peter and Ally. After getting to know each other we all decanted to The Royal Oak for a drink before returning to enjoy one of Jackie’s sausage casseroles, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. For those that had room, this was followed by Tesco’s ‘Down the Rabbit Hole cake’, in the form of the rear end of a rabbit which had benefitted from additional sultanas provided by Flo.Down the rabbit hole cake

Only Ian had room for more alcohol, a Peroni, to accompany the meal.


  1. What an amazing find. I thought immediately of the Antiques Roadshow! This volume most definitely has value, but most of all is a wonderful document of out recent social history. What will you do with it, I wonder. Just by coincidence, I’ve recently read “Tamar” a book by Mal Peet which I found in the school library . Aimed at older teenagers it’s a story based around the Nazi occupation
    of Holland. I thought it was very good.
    The alphabet book is also amazing. How politically correct we have become. I remember similar illustrations from my childhood and very inappropriate rhymes. Some things are better left in the past!

    1. Thank you Jenny. One, also incomplete, went for 80 euros at auction – so its value isn’t particularly monetary. I have some picture frames with magnetic corners which enable you to change them – see
      I will find some a bit smaller and alternate the pics – they need to be on display – but not separated from the collection. My Mum once advertised a black Beetle car as ‘Little Black Sambo’

      1. But the value to historians is immeasurable, I would think.
        I’m cringing at the inappropriate advert – but I’m sure my parents would’ve done just the same!

  2. Wow, what an amazing treasure you have here Derrick. Absolutely stunning. I’m a history buff and have studied the war in Holland from the military perspective. This shows an beautifully rendered intimate view from the civilian side. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. I echo Rich – that portfolio of sketches is a real treasure! Thank you for sharing every page with us. A poignant inscription at the beginning too.

    And that cake!! My first Easter laugh of the day. 🙂

      1. I just read what I thought was going to be a silly “genealogy mystery” by Steve Robinson, and it turned out to be a book that created the mood of the time so well that I can’t get it out of my head.

  4. Every so often I come across an article on the medical studies on the children who were “in utero” during this famine. It makes intriguing reading. My best girlfriend was born in Holland shortly after, and had elder sisters – no doubt one of them was affected. My girlfriend ended up marrying a Polish man who still remembers “starving” in the displaced persons’ camp even though he was just a toddler. It’s had a permanent effect on his eating habits. These illustrations are very evocative of the time.

  5. Aha.. now it all comes clear. My father’s family all emigrated from Holland–His father was from Friesland and I believe my grandmother’s family from Ede. She was either born in U.S. or on the boat coming over. My grandfather’s family emigrated when he was a young man. It would have been before WWI as my father was born in 1901. These photos were so revealing and sad that such hunger is still going on in the world.

      1. They occupied Guernsey and some of the other Channel Islands, right? I only know this because of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Horrible. It’s beginning to feel like the U.S. is going down the same path. Getting scary.

  6. Hi Derrick, Happy New year. What a marvelous book to receive, the pictures are fascinating. My mum was also a child during WW2 and she and I wrote a fictionalised account of her memories from that time.

  7. What a wonderful book. The illustrations are so very real. My family are from the Netherlands and my father was a POW and my mother would say that she and my brother would eat tulip bulbs during the war to survive. They brought all their possessions out to Australia, one being a small kerosene cooker that my mother would cook all our meals. We still have it and all their other possessions.

    1. Thank you very much, Anna. You must be Gwen’s friend. I am so pleased she remembered the post, and you could see it. You are welcome to take any of the pictures you would like.

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