Joan Zilva

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




Waiting with Impatience 1942



Text Box: Trust me.
Text Box: We used to sit in a room behind the shop, a small branch of Canadian National Telegraphs, waiting for assignments.  With the help of Karen Temple of the City of Toronto Archives I have confirmed that this was almost certainly situated at the corner of Bay and Bloor Streets (1209 Bay).  It was a long uphill bike ride north up Yonge Street to Lawrence Park after work. The room was also a good place for a boy to chat up a girl when they were left alone together.
Text Box: It was grey jacket and skirt and forage cap - very dashing .
Text Box: I had, of course, written to my great-aunt, but she died before receiving it .
Text Box: Something from them at last!  We were getting there very slowly 
Text Box: I was learning to be cautious about news - good or bad.  It doesn’t seem to have been much different from always on this date.
Text Box: I remember he wore grey spats –old-fashioned even then.
Text Box: After June1940 the ringing of church bells had been reserved for a  warning that we had been invaded.  On November15th they were rung for the first time to celebrate the El Alamein victory and the event was broadcast by the BBC to occupied territories in Europe and Germany.  This news meant that the threat of an invasion was past.
Text Box: I can’t now remember what Intermediate Science was 
Text Box: Showing off my very inaccurate “knowledge” of languages!  For example Wetter seems to change from neuter (correct) to masculine, but I had only been learning German for a few weeks.  
Text Box: There is no excuse for the French (en retard, not tard!).  
Text Box: I suppose this meant “I don’t know why” - but, to put it mildly, my Latin is now very rusty.
Text Box: I delivered telegrams for Canadian National.  There was some rivalry between this firm and Canadian Pacific - at least in my eyes.
Text Box: I don’t know why I came under Mines and Resources.  I was neither.
Text Box: What was wrong with my “composition”?  Had they been criticizing again?  I couldn’t do right.
Text Box: This letter is a temporary relapse, probably brought on by a bad day and all the uncertainty and suspense about going home. 
Text Box: The British, under Montgomery, captured El Alamein on November 7th and  the Allied Expeditionary Force landed in North Africa on November 10th.  Churchill pronounced at a Mansion House dinner “This is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it  is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.  Tobruck fell to us on the 12th.  However, on other fronts things seem to have been as bad as ever.  The remark about the Americans is still valid and still quite amusing.  Of course we wouldn’t have won the war without them, but they just shouldn’t rewrite history and say that they did everything!
Text Box: Believe it or not, I can still remember vividly sitting at my desk doing history homework, suddenly realizing some of the mistakes we had made after the First World War, and hoping that we would not repeat these this time.
Text Box: This was my father.  He was always embarrassing me like this.  They had got entirely the wrong end of the stick.
Text Box: On November 27th  French sailors scuttled two battleships, a battle cruiser,  seven cruisers, 29 destroyers and two submarines in Toulon harbour to stop them falling into German hands.  I think the “general” was Admiral Darlan. 
Text Box: In Italy Turin was being heavily bombed.
Text Box: I realised already that the “Peace” would not be plain sailing.
Text Box: The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
Text Box: I’m surprised that they didn’t pick me up on my consistently wrong spelling of “comparatively”.
Text Box: There was no central heating at home and there were no electric blankets. They were therefore dependent upon hot water bottles—but there was a shortage of rubber. When I got home we used stone bottles—one of which broke under me in the shelter during the flying bombs!
Text Box: CPR = Canadian Pacific Railways.
Text Box: It was getting very difficult!  What with my parents writing misinformed letters to people and Mrs Bartlett I didn’t know what to do for the best.
Text Box: I earned a lot in tips on Christmas Eve.
Text Box: Desperation setting in