Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Supported through
'Their Past Your Future 2' (TPYF2) Programme

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All | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950


Everyday Life
Scotland
Wales
Northern Ireland
North West
North East
Midlands
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"Bess Cummings was 14 when she and her brother Lewis were put on board the ill fated City of Benares in September 1940 to be sent to Canada to escape the blitz. Five days later a torpedo sank the ship but Bess and Lewis were two of only 20 survivors. They were sent to Scotland to recover after 16 hours in the freezing North Atlantic where she clung to an overturned lifeboat with a girl called Beth. They became friends in Scotland and later she met and married Beth's brother Geoff and moved to Cheltenham in the 1950s where Geoff worked at GCHQ. Bess became Headteacher at Bishops Cleeve Primary School. Beth died in August 2010 but in 2006 was delighted to travel to New York on board the Queen Mary where she told her story to an author who was researching the sinking of the City of Benares. Bess never forgot how lucky she was to survive and be re-united with her brother who she was convinced had died. In 2008 she said "It wasn't frightening. We had been living through the BLitz so we were used to bumps and bangs. Life after the attack was there to take hold of and make the most of."
North Atlantic

Anonymous

Food and Cooking
Wales
1939 - 1945

"There were six of us and four loved sugar and sweets. Mum used to get really fed up with the arguments over rations so she set us up a jar each and put our names on it - she used the edging bits off of the postage stamps with sticky backs to save paper. She used to put our weekly ration in our jar and when it was gone that was it! I remember our gas masks. They used to hang on a hook behind the door. We were supposed to practice putting them on but we didn't like them. We didn't like the rubbery smell either. I can't remember finding them useful except when Mum asked me to peel the onions. I was the oldest and they stopped my eyes running!"
Hengoed, South Wales

Mary Smith

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Wales
1939 - 1945

"My grandfather was a butcher here during the war. He had to supply his own set of butchers knives. They were always kept on a stand on the dresser and he took them to work everyday. He was allowed to bring the trimmings of meat home everyday so we had a slightly bigger meat ration than a lot of families. My brothers used to go and scour the slag heaps for any bits of coal they could find and used to bring them home in their pockets."
Ebbw Vale

Emma Martin

Everyday Life
Wales
1939 - 1945

"Su Penn said my war was very different to Ray's. I was in the Rhonda and Ray was in the city and was an evacuee. War hardly touched my family. We didn't have any bombing raids although we did see planes going over at times. We managed. What I remember most was the freedom to roam! My mother, like other women in wartime, had to work so she did not know where I was all day! You couldn't do it today but no harm came to me."
Rhonda

Ray and Su Penn are pictured at the Museum when they showed children and their parents their Wartime ration pack and explaine Ray and Su Penn

Everyday Life
Wales
South West
1939 - 1945

"18 months into the war at the age of 17 I volunteered for the RAF. Mother was upset when I told her. We lived on a small farm at Bembury, Thornford and had everything we needed. We were not short of anything. First of all I was sent to South Wales and then to RAF Locking and finally Bicester where I was running up aeroplane engines. I went home for the day sometimes. The train was blacked out. They used to ring a bell and had a system to let you know where you were. I often got sent back with two dozen eggs in my bag from mother. Some 18 months later they were looking for RAF servicemen to come out and become civilian workers in factories. I was called to the office one day and told it was my turn to go. I was sent to a factory making air screws [ propellers].
I remember the Sherborne air raid [30th September 1940]. I was in Yeovil that day. It was a typical Autumn day - fine but lots of low unbroken cloud. I heard the planes. I think they took fright and lost their sense of direction. I saw the bombs falling on Sherborne soon after 4pm. I went home to Thornford and had tea and then cycled into Sherborne. I had school friends there from Fosters School and I wanted to find out if they were alright. I left my bike at an Aunt's and walked into town. The streets were full of rubble and there was a strong smell of gas. There were some unexploded bombs too and bits of shrapnel all over the place. It was dark by then. I walked round and found my school friend's house in Newland, opposite the Carlton Cinema. It had been bombed but they were unhurt but they had to move out because the house wasn't safe. I was always amazed at how Sherborne sprang back. The rebuilding took quite a while - several years. It could have been much worse. I don't think the bombers knew where they were and were fleeing from our aircraft and dropped their bombs to lighten their load and get away.
Asked about the rumour that Sherborne might have had a secret factory that was their target Mr Mitchell replied "I never heard of a secret factory. I don't think Sherborne was the target for that day's mission. In the RAF I found out my boss had been the Tracker that day and he said he had been unable to muster enough aircraft to mount a proper counter-attack. There were too few serviceable aircraft available."
Thornford, Dorset

Merlin Mitchell
was born at Thornford near Sherborne, Dorset.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Scotland
Wales
Northern Ireland
North West
North East
Midlands
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"Every household became a miniature munitions dump during Christmas - and the munitions are wanted now for active service. Your munitions comprise all those Christmas cards, letters, boxes, gift wrappings, decorations and crackers. Paper is a munition of war. Every household must see that its accumulation of Christmas paper gets to the enemy in the most effective form. In one envelope there is sufficient paper to make a wad for a bullet. Remember that 3lbs of waste paper makes containers for two anti-aircraft shells. A ton of paper will make, among other things, 9000 shell fuse components. You probably had your weekly joint of meat on Christmas Day. Don't forget that the bone is wanted too. Bones provide glycerine for high explosives as well as glue for binding particular aircraft parts, body filling for camouflage paints, fertiliser for growing food, and feeding meals for cattle and poultry. Scrap metal is also vitally important. Five tons of ferrous metal will provide steel for 8145 anti-aircraft shells."
UK

Wartime Christmas
A newspaper cutting of January 1942 has been sent to us.

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