Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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'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
Everyday Life
North East
1939 - 1945

"I was one of 11 - the third youngest. We lived 12 miles from Sheffield. Father worked in the colliery. It was near the tank factory. We were used to hearing planes going over and shrapnel coming down. We used to pick it up in the morning. One sister was in the ATS and she was often coming home when there was an air raid in progress. I remember walking down to the air raid shelter. We used one of the old mining shafts and stayed there all night not coming out until morning. We had to go to the pump station. I just remember hearing the bombs whistling overhead. I went to a Church of England Primary School. The tanks often went rumbling past the school because the tank factory, Newton Chamgers HQ, was closeby. One bomb fell in the garden where my husband lived. His sister went out to have a look and got burnt. He worked in the steel works and lived in back to back colliery cottages built in 16s all in rows. When one of the babies was born the midwife said "this bairn can't stay here" and they went to live on a farm. The farmer grew swedes, turnips and potatoes and if you went potato picking you came home with a free bucket of potatoes at the end of the day which was very useful."
South Yorkshire

Patricia Ibbotson
came from South Yorkshire and now lives in Dorset.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
North East
1939 - 1945

"We lived in a semi-detached house in Sheffield. I was two. I remember hearing Great-Grandfather had been a table knife grinder. I remember the noise of the bombers coming over Sheffield. Our shelter was underneath in the cellar. We had metal beds in it and I was in the underneath one. Neighbouts used to come in and share our shelter with us. They made it exciting - not frightening.
I was a long awaited child. My father worked in the steel works. I had wanted a teddy bear and one night be went into Sheffield's large department store called Atkinsons and came home with this teddy in his siren suit. Stores stayed open longer in those days so he was able to go in and buy it on his way home from work. He just got there in time. That night the store was bombed and raised to the ground. Teddy was the last toy sold there. He will be 70 on 12th December.!
I remember when the whole of Sheffield was bombed one night. 17 restaurants were hit in one night. Next day Dad returned from work and had see firement outside of a pork butchers frying bacon!
I remember spam - it was quite nice actually. It was one of those pseodo meats devised for the war I believe. I also remember corn beef and snoeck.
There was a prisoner of war camp on the Moors in the south part of Sheffield. There was a big prisoner of war camp there. I saw the officers with their long coats and peaked caps and their guards. One day one took a detour up our road! Mum ran up and fetched us in saying 'That's a bad man'."
Sheffield

Brenda Spencer
Brenda joined our Memories Tea Party at Sherborne Museum and brought her very special teddy bear to show everyone.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
North East
1939 - 1945

"I was a war baby so I can't remember a lot about the war. My Mum told me I was born at seven months so was quite premature but she was only allowed to stay at the hospital for a few days because it was being taken over by the army. There weren't any incubators or any of the things they have now for premature babies so I am lucky to be here. I was born at Hull and it was bombed a lot. I spent the first fortnight after coming home in the air raid shelter as it was safer. Then my older brothers and sisters caught either measles or chicken pox and they were so afraid I would catch it too so we were kept apart. We were bombed out four times. My father was out on fire watch and once when he had only just got it he was so tired he wouldn't come down to the shelter with the rest of the family. He insisted on staying in the house. We heard the bombs dropping. The daughter of the woman next door was killed and the blast threw father out of the house through the door. Luckily he survived. The house wasn't habitable so we were re-homed. We were in a row of cottages down a long alleyway. There were no services - no electric or running water. I had to go and get the water with my sister from the pump a long way away and we had to keep going backwards and forwards to get enough - especially on Mondays because that was washing day. I must say I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Everyone was so friendly and we all helped each other. I also remember at the end of the war and afterwards we children used to get paid to go out into the fields pea picking, bean picking, potato picking and we were all allowed hooks to cut down sprout stalks and other greens. You wouldn't be allowed to do it today but I don't remember anyone getting hurt. I used to love it and of course we earned a little pocket money. My husband Colin's family had a different war. His mother came from Yorkshire but she married a Londoner and they lived in Deal when the doodlebugs came over. He will tell you all about it."
Hull

Stella Powell
nee Coultas. Stella, who now lives in Dorset, plans to record more of her memories over the next few weeks.
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.
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.