Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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


In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
1939 - 1945

"John Porter recalls the women of his village, near Wilsden in Lincolnshire, held regular knitting groups. All spare wool was gathered and knitted into squares to be made into blankets for the bombed out families in London"
Wilsden, Lancashire

John Porter

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
Midlands
1939 - 1945

"I was at school when war broke out but I left before I had finished my education. My first job was supposed to be in a laboratory but it turned out to be making aircraft plywood. I didn't stay long! My second job was supposed to be hush-hush but turned out to be making perspex for aircraft. I didn't like it and only stayed nine days!. Then I went to work for the Canada Life Insurance Company where I did stay a little while but I wanted to work outside so I joined the Land Army. I was sent to a big house in Buckinghamshire as Under Gardener. The old gardener had retired but his two sons who took on the garden were called up and he had to come out of retirement. We dug up the tennis courts and grew potatoes and on the other courts we kept chickens. It was there I learnt to milk because they had two cows. The chauffeur/groom took on the hedging. We had plenty of vegetables and the cook was still there so we lived ok. I was 18 then. Clothing was rationed but that didn't worry me much as I wasn't very fashion conscious. When the groom was on holiday I had to learn to milk the cows and found I liked it. It was unusual for girls to like milking the cows so I was sent to the other end of Bucks where there was a much larger herd of 50 cows. I was there for several years as cow man. They had one of the early dairies - a milking parlour. I wasn't very mechanical really but they found I was very good at keeping the parlour running. Then I was sent to another herd where they had Shorthorns. Shortly afterwards they changed to real Jersey cows that had come from the Channel Islands. I liked those a lot. I used to make butter, cream and cheese for the house in small amounts but not for sale. I was in the Land Army for over ten years but I still haven't got my badge. I finally left to get married. We lived quite well during the war. Make do and Mend was what we were used to. Compared to the 1920s and 1930s life was actually better. During the recession there was real hardship. We had grown up used to having to use everything and waste nothing. Nothing was left over." Sheila continued to like her animals and kept and milked her goats until recent years."
Cheshire

Ted and Sheila Babbidge
nee Nash. Sheila's story. She is now 85 and living in Cheshire.
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

Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
North West
South East
1939 - 1945

"My father was a morse code instructor during the war. I didn't go to ordinary school but was taught by post as part of the Parents Union School that I think was based in the Lake District. We were in Aberdeen for a few months when father was instruction Naval Cadets. He had three months to teach them what should have taken three years.
In Aberdeen I remember an air raid. Mother and I were sitting under the kitchen table. Our canary was on the top in its cage. I don't know why we didn't have her underneath with us. She used to travel everywhere with us. She was so used to travelling she used to sing on station platforms and wasn't at all worried when travellers came to talk to her.
I remember one air raid while we were in Aberdeen - a big one that went on and on. When there was a lull Mother and I went to visit the old man next door and stayed with him when it started again. I remember he gave me some books to read to take my mind off of the raid - but they were all in Gaelic! He hadn't realised I couldn't read them. We had double summer time while we were in Aberdeen. In Aberdeen we were above the city and could look down on it and the harbour. There was a big ship anchored in the harbour and an enemy plane came over and started firing on it. I remember lots of tracer bullets. The ship was firing at the plane. I shall always remember what mother said. It sounded strange to me.
"Isn't that pretty. I do like that!" - the colours were quite pretty as they fired at each other but it was really quite frightening.

We were in Scarborough too. I remember mother seeing a queue. We didn't know what we were queuing for but after a long time we got to the front of the shop and all we could have was just one Victoria plum. It was a very big one. I don't remember ever seeing such a large plum before and I can't remember what we did with it! Mother used to skin things too. I remember a lot of rabbit meat.

When we were in Brighton I remember another air raid. We hid under the table for what seemed like hours. I can remember the pattern of the linoleum today - I was looking at it for so long!

When we were in Shropshire we had a bungalow in a steeply sided valley. It only had oil lamps and oil for cooking. We used to hear the bombers go over heading for Shrewsbury. We used to go outside to listen and heard the thump, thump thump as the bombs fell. I was an only child so I didn't have enough courage to go out on my own at night and climb up the hill. I would have liked to to see the town and where the bombs had fallen. Mum used to buy my sweet ration once a month. She always bought chocolate bars and then broke them up. I got two chunks each day. I never had any sugar I was always given saccharin. Mum loved making jam so saved all of the sugar ration for that. When sugar wasn't rationed any longer I didn't like the taste of it at all. It tasted funny to me.

I don't remember being short of clothes but mother was very good at sewing. I do remember one of the places we stayed at had a an electric heater with two switches. She wasn't used to it. We hadn't had anything like it at home. She put on one switch and there was a warm light but no heat. She said "I don't think much of this heater". She didn't realise you had to put on the other switch to get the heat!"


Marguerite found two wartime booklets - the Protection of Your Home against Air Raids and Your Food in War-time. Marguerite k Marguerite Backhouse
A talented artist who now lives at Glanvilles Wootton, Dorset not surprising recalls, colours and scenes during her wartime schooldays that took her across the country.
Everyday Life
North West
South East
1939 - 1945

"It never had a bomb dropped on it but I was evacuated to Kirk Sandal in Lancashire. It was part of the Pilkington Glass Works with an estate built around it. Father was moved to Bristol with his work and was bombed there. I had an older sister and she was evacuated to Lincoln. We didn't get evacuated together as she was 11 years older than me. We went to visit my Grandmother in London for her birthday on the 8th of September. We arrived just as planes started bombing the docks in London!"
Lancashire and London

Annette Hallett was interviewed at Crafty Times Memories afternoon. Annette Hallett
grew up in Leeds.
In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
North East
1939 - 1945
Kathleen Willcock and her husband visited the museum in August 2010 and Kathleen recalled
"I was living with my family near Leeds and was evacuated to Lincoln. I was at the High School and had hoped to complete my last year and get my school certificate. We thought it was a strange place to be evacuated to as we all thought Lincoln was more likely to be bombed and it had been quite peaceful at home. I remember the whole school left by train. I remember the very tearful goodbyes. I thought I would never see my mother again! However I had a very happy year - and no bombing! I got my school certificate and left and got a job. We were evacuated to a very old house - a lovely old mansion not far from the cathedral. It was lovely. We were lucky as I lived there with my friends but some of the others were in another part of Lincoln and had a long walk to school. It was a very happy and peaceful time after all!"
Leeds and Lincoln

Kathleen Willcock

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.
Food and Cooking
North West
1939 - 1945

"Ethel Carter of Bradford recalled she had never made jam before the war. However on finding her pot of wartime raspberry jam was a bit chewy she asked a friend who worked in the jam factory what was in it. She found out it had very little raspberry in it but 75% rhubarb! The pips were in fact tiny wood shavings! She managed to contact a cousin in the country and started to make her own jam."
Bradford

Ethel Carter

Everyday Life
North West
North East
Midlands
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"It was announced on 9th August 2011 that Nancy Wake has died in London aged 98 on Sunday 5th. The Second World War French Resistance heroine was called 'The White Mouse' by the Gestapo for her elusiveness and several site readers have asked that she should be added to 'Make do and Mend'. Her name became a household word after the war and her exploits were retold across many kitchen tables. She became the most decorated servicewoman. She was trained by British Intelligence in espionage and sabotage and helped arm and lead 7000 resistance fighters having left Australia in 1935 with the help of her Aunt's legacy and arrive in London where she trained as a journalist.
Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia and was quickly recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who were keen to have French-speaking women to act as couriers. She was also a very good shot. In April 1944 she was dropped by parachute into the Auvergne region along with Major John Farmer, leader of the Freelance resistance circuit. She worked in Parish and saw first hand the work of the Nazis. She married wealthy industrialist Henri Fiocca but when he was called up for war service she enrolled as an ambulance driver and began helping British soldiers to escape from France. The Gestapo were hot on her trail in May 1943 and she escaped from France to Spain with Henri promising to follow her. However he was picked up by the Gestapo and shot, for which she blamed herself. After the liberation of France Nancy Wake returned to London where she was awarded the George Medal. The French awarded her three Croix de Guerre and the Medaille de la Resistance and later, made her Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. The Americans awarded her the Medal of Freedom. Her autobiography was published in 1985 and was followed by a TV drama. In 2004 she was made a Companion of the Order of Australia and latterly lived in the Star and Garter home for ex-servicemen and women in Richmond, Surrey."
UK

Nancy Wake

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