Mem­o­ries of grow­ing up in wartime Bri­tain

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By LAURA McCLEAY

Mata­mata’s Dan Ar­buckle spent his school years dodg­ing bombs. It was the be­gin­ning of World War II in Mid­lands, Bri­tain.

Mr Ar­buckle was just six years old. Planes roared over­head, bombs blasted and air raid shel­ters lined the roads.

‘‘One night a land mine landed on the road right be­hind our house. Our en­tire roof blew off and landed in our gar­den. Ev­ery sin­gle win­dow and door was blown out,’’ Mr Ar­buckle said.

‘‘On an­other day when I was com­ing home from school, I stood and watched this plane com­ing across, then Dad’s Home Guard army sent rock­ets out and the plane just van­ished.’’ This was life as he knew it. ‘‘When I was a boy, the war and the bombs didn’t seem to bother us too much,’’ he said.

Mr Ar­buckle at­tended 12 dif­fer­ent schools when he was young – each one was bombed out not long af­ter he started there, forc­ing him and his three si­b­lings to find yet an­other new school.

‘‘I would go to one school and be top of the class be­cause I had al­ready stud­ied the top­ics at an­other school but then I would go to one and be bot­tom of the class be­cause the school be­fore hadn’t yet stud­ied that,’’ he laughed.

Mr Ar­buckle, now 78, lives in Mata­mata with his wife Noe­lene.

They were mar­ried in 1960 and cel­e­brated their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary last year.

Since ar­riv­ing in New Zealand in 1949, Mr Ar­buckle and his wife have been back to Eng­land twice to visit the house he lived in dur­ing the war and one of the pri­mary schools he went to, King Henry Eight Gram­mar School.

He trained as a pas­try chef in Auck­land and worked at a bak­ery where on top of his wage he earned one shilling for each rat he caught.

‘‘Some weeks I got more money from catch­ing rats than I made from work­ing in the bak­ery,’’ he said.

He then moved to Mata­mata, took a job as chef at To­tara Springs, met Noe­lene and was mar­ried.

They bought a busi­ness to­gether and started the Cof­fee Lounge in the shop which now houses The Horse­man cafe.

Mrs Ar­buckle said they loved liv­ing in Mata­mata and would not want to live any­where else.

‘‘If you’re happy, have a good mar­riage and have hob­bies, then life is re­ally great,’’ she said.

Their hob­bies can be seen through­out their Mata­mata home.

Mrs Ar­buckle’s cross stitch works are hung proudly on the wall. Mr Ar­buckle’s wooden bowls, jars and or­na­ments are dis­played in each room, each one care­fully hand crafted on his wood lathe.

Mr Ar­buckle also dec­o­rates cakes for wed­dings and birthdays – a hobby he has en­joyed for more than 60 years and plans to keep do­ing for the rest of his life.

To­gether for­ever: Noe­lene and Dan Ar­buckle, who have been mar­ried for 51 years, share their sto­ries.

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