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November 14, 2013

Thomasville author reveals life in war-torn England

THOMASVILLE — In Growing Up in 1940s War-Torn England,” published by LifeRich Publishing in partnership with Reader’s Digest and Author Solutions LLC, readers are treated to the author’s diaries from when she was growing up in England during World War II.

Joyce Holgate DeMille, 90, of Thomasville has written a memoir of war-torn England in the 1940s. From the beginning of the war in 1939 to the end in 1945, DeMille poured her heart and soul into a diary. She kept it from the time she was 16 until she was 21. The book is comprised of bits and pieces of the diary.

DeMille said, “I’ve always written diaries from about the time I was 10. I never thought my diary would become a book.”

The diary was DeMille’s only form of escape from the explosions that surrounded her. Now, readers can journey back with her into a world that few people remember.

“People don’t understand about how things were during the war in England. I want people to understand and know what happened. My daughter encouraged me to write a book and publish it. I hope it gets the information out there,” said DeMille.

Her book shares vivid memories. An excerpt reads, “The following is an account of my worst experience in World War II — My heart literally jumped as the commuter train stopped at my home station when I saw the rubble on the platform on the other side. While clambering over the debris, I was scared thinking that my mother who was to return from visiting my sister in the country might be on that train. It was pointless to find out where that bombed train came from so I ran the short distance to our house where the windows had been blown out (nothing surprising about that) but the telephone inside was ringing.”

Along with the bad experiences DeMille had during the war, she also recounts one of the nice parts — spending time with her sister at a farm.

She said, “It was nice to get away. She taught me different things. In London, we couldn’t get milk and I was a teenager and needed milk. My sister showed me how to milk a little goat to get the milk I needed. It was the happiest time of the war and that didn’t happen often. I try to forget the sad parts and, at my age, you want to forget the sad parts.”

DeMille was born in London in May 1923. She was drafted to work in London at a war office when she was 17. When the war was over, she went to Norway and worked as a secretary in the British Embassy in Oslo until she left to work for her father as a translator.

She married in October 1951 and moved to Georgia in 1952. After her daughter was born, she worked as a secretary to Millard Caldwell, former governor of Florida. When she became a United States citizen,  she worked as a secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

After 22 years, DeMille retired. She has been a long-distance runner, an active member of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, the secretary-treasurer of the Thomasville Running Club, the secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, the auxiliary president of T.L. Spence American Legion Post 31 and a member of Tallahassee Chapter of National Secretaries Association (International). Currently, DeMille enjoys gardening, knitting and reading.

DeMille’s can be purchased at Amazon.com. More information on a book signing by DeMille to follow.

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Georgia Department of Education District Effectiveness Specialist Bobby Smith educates Thomas County teachers about Georgia’s new accountability program, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, at a Tuesday meeting.

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