Joan Zilva

Text Box: An  account of a 14 year old’s WW2 overseas evacuation based on her letters home



Chapter Seven—BACK TO TORONTO 1941 —Part 3


Text Box: I was seventeen before I got home
Text Box: Nor did I feel very much older now at 86. (70 years later).
Text Box: I am not sure which pictures these were.
Text Box: Now that I am at the other end of the spectrum it is cheaper again - concessionary rates and free travel in London.
Text Box: The more I read these letters the more I realize how kind they were to me.  I can never thank them enough.
Text Box: This is a constant refrain in these letters.  The feeling has lasted.  I find it very difficult to feel “obliged” to anyone.
Text Box: Another kind gesture.  They were out to make me feel at home.
Text Box: A feeble excuse, as I said earlier.  I’d used it more than once.  As for dissatisfied, as I understand what I wrote, I had spelt it correctly.  Even the derivation I suggested seems correct.  According to the dictionaries it comes from “dis” plus “satisfacere” meaning “content”  - which, of course, itself comes, as I said, from “satis” (enough) and “facere” (to make).  One to me for a change!
Text Box: My mother must have confessed to getting into trouble at school for not learning this passage 
Text Box: My father always worried that I would come to a sticky end.
Text Box: In Canada bicycles had to (perhaps still are) be licensed annually and carry a small registration plate.  A good idea, both if they were stolen (as mine was once - briefly) and for third parties if the rider broke the law or caused an accident 
Text Box: I keep referring sympathetically to Finland.  They were in a difficult position and, to our credit, we recognised this.  To summarize, the Soviet Union had territorial ambitions, especially for military bases, in Finland.  At the outbreak of the war between Britain and Germany the Finns declared neutrality.  Later that month the Russians promised to respect this neutrality.  However, in November 1939 they renounced the non-aggression pact,  broke off diplomatic relations and invaded Finland, where they set up a puppet government.  The Finns fought bravely and even invaded Russian territory.  Unfortunately a new offensive by the Russians succeeded and a treaty, unfavourable to Finland, was ratified in March 1940.  In early 1941 the Finns mobilized in support of Germany (in their eyes, against Russia) and in June of that year, after Helsinki was bombed, declared war on Russia.  In December Britain reluctantly declared war on Finland.  Between the devil and the deep blue sea, it’s difficult to see what else the Finns could have done.  I must say that I showed                                                                                                     insight.
Text Box: All this mention of running out of ink may be incomprehensible these days.  There were no ballpoints until some time after the war, nor cartridges for fountain pens - one had to fill them from an ink bottle.  We even might write with a pen that had to be dipped into ink while we were writing.  At least it was an advance on the quill pen!
Text Box: The attack was on this same date, at 7.55am Hawaiian time.  However, most of the letter was actually written later in the week 
Text Box: It is said that, in Pearl Harbour, Ohau, the crew of the 86 American warships, enjoying a Sunday morning relaxation, were caught unawares.  The Americans knew that an attack on the Philippines was imminent, but the message to Pearl Harbour was delayed by poor signal handling. 184 Japanese aircraft, from six aircraft carriers, sank or disabled 19  warships, destroyed 188 military aircraft and damaged 159.  2 403 Americans were killed and America was at war with Japan.  Declarations of war were received from Italy and Germany, and Roosevelt declared war on them on December 11th - 4 days after this letter was dated.  
The Americans (in this sense) are not a “race”.
Text Box: According to modern theories we should all have died of coronaries by now!  I never did believe in dietary fads - and I know a bit about them now 
Text Box: One of the photos taken by Miss Grove