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Sherborne Museum

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Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

"Sherborne Farmer Jack Dimond has recorded a lot of his memories in his two books 'Dimond Gems' and 'More Dimond Gems.' He vividly remembers the day of the Sherborne Bombing Raid on 30th September 1940. 'I was over on the farm. The siren went at about 3.30pm. Father had dug us a shelter in the rock under our garden. We had a half round Anderson shelter. 13 of us packed into the shelter! We didn't expect to see anything standing when we came out - the ground shook so much. It was one big roar. Our friend Mr Ireland the saddler was killed. I had only collected the binder canvas from him three days before. We lost a sow and her ten young piglets. She was killed by debris coming through the roof of her sty. The closest bomb was about 250 yards away on the other side of the Castleton Road from the farm. Jimmy Lintern was killed by a direct hit. A Hurricane crashed quite close to us. We heard it go over. There is still a hole in the hedge there today on the opposite side of the road to us. A friend still has the propeller and parts of the engine.
We didn't have any water or services for a week. We had to fetch water from the spring across the fields in ten gallon milk churns. One of our best friends was killed in a field next to Lenthay Common by the first bomb. He had been cutting thistles. I had only seen him the week before when we got some straw from him and I had to take back his ropes.
That evening we walked down round Sherborne. We had a job to pick out the streets. Most of the bombs fell in the streets and back gardens luckily otherwise more would have been killed. It was a cloudy day although at times there were some breaks in the cloud. There are several stories about the bombing raid. They say they mistook Sherborne for Yeovil. It is also said the balloons went up in Yeovil and they were trying to get away from our fighters - not many of them - that went up after them and then they dropped their bombs on Sherborne. They followed the railway line. One of our pilots came down. It took a good four or five years to rebuild Sherborne. Newland School had a direct hit. The children had only come out ten minutes before the bombs fell but it killed the schoolmistress.'"
Sherborne, Dorset

Jack Dimond
Sherborne Farmer and author lives beneath the Old Castle ruins and has sold over 15,000 copies of his memoirs.
Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"Living on the farm we were lucky. We used to kill two or three pigs most summers for us and the men. We always had plenty of milk and rabbits - we ate rabbits three or four times a week. I remember dough boys and stir up puddings boiled in the cloth. We used to grow a ton of spuds in the garden. They used to last us nearly all year round."
Sherborne, Dorset

Jack Dimond
Sherborne Farmer and author lives beneath the Old Castle ruins and has sold over 15,000 copies of his memoirs.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Evacuees
"I remember the day the evacuees came. There was a convoy of about 200 buses coming down the road. It just went on and on. They were all packed with evacuees. Six stopped in Sherborne and the children were offloaded in the Church Hall. Others stopped in neigbouring villages. Some went right on down to Maiden Newton, all the villages in between and on to Dorchester and even Weymouth. Mother went down to the Church Hall and we were allotted two. We had two boys Robert and Billie. They came with their gas masks. One of them cried for over a week he was so homesick. Our evacuees stayed about 2 1/2 years. We didn't have an apple left in the orchard! They cleared them. Father didn't say anything - but they were cider apples and they still ate them! My sister still hears from one of the evacuees at Christmas."
Sherborne, Dorset

Jack Dimond
Sherborne Farmer and author lives beneath the Old Castle ruins and has sold over 15,000 copies of his memoirs.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Jack Dimond recalls the first time he saw a German bomber fly overhead only a few weeks after war was declared 'Didn’t we run! We were frightened out of our lives. My sister was crying her eyes out.' The planes became a more frequent sight and the children were able to tell whose plane it was by the engine noise. 'One night we heard a loud noise and when we looked out there was a German bomber overhead in flames. We thought it was returning from a bombing raid on Bristol. We thought it was going to land on the house but it was a rough and windy night and it went over and came down in Oborne about a mile away. I went with my father and we were the first on the scene but there was nothing we could do. We could see the pilot and crew in the cockpit. They were buried in Oborne cemetery. One afternoon I remember two of our Spitfires were practicing overhead and collided. They both crashed in the road about 50 yards away. They were both on fire and bits had fallen off as they came down. My sister was four fields away turning hay and the horse bolted when the field caught on fire. I don’t know how she stayed on the seat. My mother was hand milking when a large part of one of the engines went through the cow-shed roof landing three yards from her. When we got home we found her sat on the path crying. Being on the farm rationing didn’t affect us too much. Our two evacuees had the time of their lives. On the day of the Sherborne bombing raid [30th September 1940] there were 13 of us in our shelter. We didn’t think we would get out alive. That night we walked into town picking our way through the rubble. We had a job to place the streets. Households were left without water for ten days.'"
Sherborne, Dorset

Jack Dimond
Sherborne Farmer and author lives beneath the Old Castle ruins and has sold over 15,000 copies of his memoirs.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was in Central London during the war. I was nursing - in training when war broke out. I was on night duty when Great Ormond Street Hospital was bombed in the blitz. Most of the teaching hospitals had been evacuated to base hospitals in the country. None closed but bed numbers fluctuated. It was a very highly organised system evacuating patients every morning. As soon as they could be moved they were moved out to base hospitals. Green Line coaches were commandeered as convoys of ambulances. Every morning the convoys left. It was a very organised system every morning and then on the return journey patients were brought back who had recovered from operations. During the blitz it was horrendous. I remember a particular night when I was on night duty on the fifth floor. The sirens went and we wheeled the beds and cots - and remember we had very sick babies and children - out into the corridor as it was considered the safest place away from glass and arc lights. That night I shall never forget as long as I live. Crump, crump, crump we heard followed by bounces on the roof - a very large bomb had gone down the main lift shaft. All the main services were knocked out. We still wore a Victorian style uniform - long capes, gas masks on shoulder and each of us had to carry a baby wrapped in a blanket and their huge baby gas masks packed in large cardboard boxes. We had to carry everything down into the basemet lit only by a small pen torch. It was regarded as the safest place. It was a very big hospital and a tall building so an easy target. As soon as we got to the basement the water started to rise until it was a huge flood several feet deep. Everything from the kitchen was floating. I remember seeing babies bottles, a pound of sausages, childrens green ration books - they all floated by. Firemen from the ak-ak factory opposite came to rescue us. I don't know how they did it. They piggybacked us up from the basement still carrying our baby patients and all our equipment and put us down on the ground floor. We all gathered in the atrium of the hospital and assembled. Then we went out in single file across the forecourt and across the road to the Hospital for Nervous Diseases. It was like treading on an ice rink. Every bit of glass from our hospital had been blown out. It was treacherous to walk on, especially carrying so much and our precious babies. We also had our white starched bonnets - we were a sitting target. It was pitch dark and a black out. We never came out until 6am/7am and then went into the Out Patients Department and sat on the floor. We were all 18 years of age. We were given a boiled egg each for breakfast.
Wartime London was difficult, especially in September 1940 at the height of the blitz. German bombers came up the Thames in the late afternoon to bomb the East End. I remember it always smelt like burnt toast afterwards. I shall never forget it. Mother was home on the outskirts of Reading and Father was at The Front for the second time in his life as he had served in the First War. Our patients had special dried milk and special juices because of course they did not need a meat ration so their needs were substituted. There were no oranges so rose-hip sysrup was substituted. Rationing didn't stop when the war stopped - not until 1953, the last being meat - not until after the Coronation. Food was shorter after the war, especially bread and potatoes that had not been rationed before. We had to feed the people of Europe. I started nursing six months before war broke out and I was a Senior Sister by the end of the war. Our Nurses Uniform altered during the war to save material. Our Nurses dresses had been 12 inches above the ground and this went up to 14 inches. The dresses had taken six and a half yards of material to make! They took the straps off of our aprons and our bibs were fixed with safety pins. Caps changed in style too. Gradually our long sleeves became short sleeves. Our long full capes became short capes. The problem was getting everything starched. It was difficult to get enough starch. We had at least one clean apron a day. We had to buy our own uniform. We went to the hospital tailors to get measured. Mother said it was like starting at boarding school all over again! In our second year we were given enough material to make our uniform. We were paid £15 a year, in the second year £20 and in the third £30. It was quite expensive to go into nursing before the Health Service. If you didn't like it and left you had to pay them back. You had to supply your own safety pins too. You had to pay for breakages; six pence (6d) for a broken thermometer. It was very disciplined. We were not allowed out after 10pm. Only in recent years have women become emancipated. We were all under 21 [ 21 then being the coming of age] so Matron was responsible for all of us. It was a great responsibility."
Central London

Mary Hatt
Mary Hatt was interviewed at the St Johns Almshouse Memories Tea Party where she has recently retired to after a lifetime career in nursing.
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

"I was one of five children. I remember the day of the Sherborne bombing raid. I had come out of school, gone home and then went out to play. I was playing with a friend of mine in the ruins of some burnt out cottages in Westbury, [Bradford Abbas] that had been burnt out long before the war but were not rebuilt during wartime. We children often used to go and play there so my brother, Des, knew where to find me when the sirens sounded. He was up on the railway bridge in Back Lane, one of the highest points, with a friend and could see what was happening. He came running to find me and said we ought to run back home to the shelter 'we've got a raid' he said. We ran home and as soon as we got in the shelter it was all over - as quick as that. The time was about 4pm. Father had dug the shelter for us in our garden. He had put timber on top and covered it with earth - there was six inches of water in the bottom but it was safe on top!
We knew they had bombed Sherborne and could hear the bombs going off all the way across Wyke and Lenthay Common and into the town. My future wife Doe lived in Lenthay Close, Sherborne and she was in the heart of it. A house below theirs received a direct hit and a family was killed."
Sherborne, Dorset

Ron Gosney (2nd right) with other older residents of Bradford Abbas at a special village occasion. Ron Gosney
became one of the 'Grand Old Men' of the village in 2009 re-enacting the original gathering in the 1930s when the oldest residents famed for their longevity became film stars! In 2009 those Bradfordians of advancing ages were honoured at a social gathering in the village. Ron became Master Thatcher of the village.
Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"At home father had three allotments at South View - two on one side of the footpath and one on the other - so we grew everything we needed. He was renowned for his onions and he used to sell some. At home we had nails all around Back House as we called it and rabbits were hung there, paunched and all ready for cooking. Father used to work for Wyatt Paul on the farm, although he couldn't drive a tractor. Wyatt Paul owned most of the village in those days. Father was a rick thatcher for them and that was how I became interested but I became an apprentice and went on to become a Master Thatcher. Father used to go rabbiting and ferreting so we used to have rabbit three or four times a week. There were five of us children to feed. We used to have rabbit stew and roast rabbit. If we had anything else - like pork or beef - that was a real surprise. We weren't short of food in the war. I can't remember being really short of anything."
Sherborne, Dorset

Ron Gosney (2nd right) with other older residents of Bradford Abbas at a special village occasion. Ron Gosney
became one of the 'Grand Old Men' of the village in 2009 re-enacting the original gathering in the 1930s when the oldest residents famed for their longevity became film stars! In 2009 those Bradfordians of advancing ages were honoured at a social gathering in the village. Ron became Master Thatcher of the village.
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

""I was at the top of the village when the sirens went off. I was quite high up and soon afterwards I saw our planes going in the direction of Yeovil. Shortly afterwards I could see something falling and then I realised it was our pilot and could see his parachute." Many accounts from the time speak of the unbroken cloud cover over Sherborne but when asked Wilf said "No it wasn't cloudy from here. I could see them."

[Curator's comment. Today 15th March 2010 weather conditions in Yetminster were at first clear and sunny but as the day progressed it became cloudy. However five miles away in Sherborne the sky was clear blue with few clouds and perfect visibility. Conflicting accounts of the weather conditions and visibility on 30th September 1940 could be accounted for if similar conditions prevailed. On several occasions over the past year there has been sharp contrast in visibility from surrounding villages and the River Yeo valley which is also the route of the railway line that the planes followed to Sherborne, which is situated on the Yeo.]"
Yetminster, Dorset

Wilf Bennett
has lived in Yetminster, Dorset all his life. He vividly recalled the day of the Sherborne Bombing Raid.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the Sherborne Bombing Raid. I was going out to the hairdressers, Ruth Foster's Mum. I was passing Mrs Grant's house and she called "You had better come in. The barrage balloons have just gone up Yeovil way." I didn't see the damage done in Sherborne. We heard the planes and the bombs but we couldn't get about in wartime so I didn't get to Sherborne ( five miles away) very often. I always remember the start of the war. My Mum was killed on the 24th of August 1939 at the Cross Roads. She had been worried about the coming war and said she didn't want to see her boys go to war. I remember her arm was broken and she had other injuries and later that night my sister Linda came and said Mummy's dead. Mrs Gervis was a nurse, the schoolmaster's wife, and she had come to help. We used to wear black for six months. I remember Gran made us girls black and white check dresses - for four of us. At Yetminster we had an air raid siren at Brister End up by the quarry. Quite a few men from the village used to man it - Dr Stevens was one of them and a man from Ryme came to help. I remember looking forward to going to Sherborne by charabanc every year to Phillips and Andover in Sherborne but it was bombed. We used to pay into a clothing club at the Vicarage - a shilling a week [5p] and at the end of the year we used to enjoy the ride in the charabanc with the roof down if the weather was fine and spending the club money at the store. I remember Harry Saunders was Sexton at Yetminster. He lived in the thatched Sexton's cottage next to the church - it isn't thatched now. His job was to light the lamps in the church and each night he used to go into the church to ring the Curfew Bell. I worked for Dr. Stevens - in service. Mrs Stevens had a canteen in the garage for soldiers. There were lots billeted in Yetminster and it was my job to fry the soldiers breakfasts. Miss Buckler helped and Miss Trubridge - but she was killed at Hendford, Yeovil when her mackintosh got caught in the wheel of her bicycle. Nearly every house in the village had someone. Aunt Kath had an evacuee - a girl and then later another girl. She had such pretty hair she was such a pretty little thing. When the evacuees came they didn't have anything. A lot of them were so poor. We tried to get them things. At our school - we had a boys school at Boyles and a girls school - it was difficult to fit them all in. I remember Ration Books. Mrs Stevens kept all of my food coupons as I was in service there and provided the food. I just had my sweets coupons and clothing coupons. There was a lot of jiggery pokkery going on. They were in with some of these high up people and they didn't go short of anything! We used to see it going on. Ourselves we made do. We knew we couldn't have it and we didn't have the money to buy things either. If you wanted a bigger garment it was more coupons you had to use. I didn't need much clothes. I was in service so I had my uniform. I had my dress and apron and cap - stiff white cuffs and starched cap. Mrs Gould did all of the house washing and Mrs Dean was the Parlour Maid - she was very smart. Lyn my sister was cook. I was allowed out once a week and then had to be in by 10pm. Washing day used to go on all day. We used to have to make a bowl of starch and then there were little bags of blue. We used to buy little squares of blue for about two pence (2d). Wash days started in the morning and was still going on at night. At home we all had a stool each that Mr Hillier the wheelwright made and at the end of washing day all the stools were scrubbed and the brushes and handles. When someone died we always kept a light burning in the bedroom all night with the body. I'm not sure why but it was something everybody did because we kept the dead bodies at home those days. I remember Mr Hillier made my Dad's coffin and carried it from Brister End down across Vecklands on his shoulder to our house. Dad had been ill from January until May. We didn't have any electric and lit a fire upstairs in the grate to keep him warm. Meat - well I know the Stevens got it on the Blackmarket. I used to stay with the Loveless family in Yeovil sometimes. They had soldiers billeted with them and they used to bring them chickens, towels and blankets! I remember working for a mr Zimner too. When he had to go to London occasionally I used to have to post big parcels for Mrs Zimner to her daughter in London. I don't know what was in them but I remember they used to cost 2 shillings and 6 pence to post. My brother Norman was in the Home Guard. He used to be up all night and then have to go to work all day. I was born in Mill Lane, Yetminster and lived there for 82 years. Dad's people came from Scotland but my Mum never saw them. Dad was in the navy and was posted to Portland. My Mum had relations in Portland and used to go and stay sometimes and that was how they met. There was never enough money for her to go to Scotland to meet them. Dad used to be away in the navy for three years at a time. When my brother Norman worked for Willis's in Sherborne he used to ask me if I wanted a lift into Sherborne and I used to have a ride on the cart - sitting on the board across the cart. He used to drop me in Westbury , Sherborne anbd I used to go up to Carters the butchers. They used to sell a big bag of bacon bits for 6d. It all made a difference as we only had £2 in wages coming in and then you had to pay rent and everything. In service I used to get £20 a year and I used to have to pay a shilling a week stamp."
Yetminster, Dorset

Cis Bell
at 97 is amazingly active and with an excellent memory.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born in Wales and was at Derry when war broke out. I was 17 and wanted to join the Wrens. I had to go to Newport for a check-up - there were seven doctors there! It was quite disturbing. I had only ever seen one doctor at a time before! When I came back it was the wrong time at the station and I got on the wrong train. We lived in villages between hills and the trains went up the valleys. The train names were taken off during the war and the station signs were taken down so I got on the wrong train and went up the wrong valley! I realised what had happened and got off. It was February and it was snowing and cold. I needed to get back to Bargoed to get on the right train. I realised there was someone following me and it turned out to be a retired Colonel who asked me back to his hotel! He just wanted me to keep warm until the train left and offered to buy me a drink. I said I couldn't have a drink as we didn't drink at home! He said he meant a soft drink and eventually I got back to Derry. I remember the lovely smell of hot chocolate at his hotel. I was really disappointed because I was given a dispensation not to go as Mum had just had a baby boy and also had my other little brother and I was needed at home. I didn't see anyone to talk to so when I saw a card in the local shop, a general stores, for part-time help I asked if I could apply to get me out and meet people. Mum said yes and I started working there - it was really nice and being a general stores we didn't go short of anything!"
Wales

Gwynneth Heath

Do you remember having to make do and mend? Please submit your experiences.