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

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

"I was in the Land Army and had to travel from Devon to Birmingham. I remember we didn't have any cups, we couldn't get cups so tea was served in jam jars! While I was in the Land Army I was sent to Coventry and was there when the blitz of Coventry happened. I remember the landmines and bombs that fell on the estate we were working on. My inlaws lived in Solihull. We couldn't get through the roads. I had to go through someones garden and out the back of their house pulling and lifting my bicycle with me to get through to get home.
I was sent to train to work with the decoders - you know Alan Turin and the Enigma Code. We were taking down signals. We took them down - we didn't decode them. I was sent to Bow Manor Loughborough to train. We had to be very accurate. There were lots of us on these little radio sets listening. All these men had different sending techniques. They changed their frequencies quite often. We had to turn our dials until we picked up the new frequencies. I remember the great comradeship of that time. We kept in touch for years and years. I had to go to London to take tests to do this work. We were sent a morse type signal and then another and had to decide whether it was sent by the same person or not. We were taught to listen for any similarities and had to mark the test messages with a tick or a cross. It took nine months to train us and during that time I was sent to Trowbridge and also Douglas on the Isle of Man. We had to pass the Royal Signals Test B2 before we could do the work. When the Invasion started we sometimes picked up some very sad messages like 'please tell my mother we did our best'. These were from young men, no more than boys, just like ours. It made us think we were all the same. Some were very sad. They knew they weren't coming home. My husband and I retired to Gillingham, Dorset and then I was in a British Legion Home at Taunton before coming to the Almshouse here in Sherborne where I am very happy. It is a lovely place."
Birmingham

Noel Leadbeater
Grew up in a suburb of Birmingham and is now a resident of St Johns Almshouse, Sherborne.
Everyday Life
Midlands
1942 - 1943

"In 1942 - 3 my wife and I saw our first Americans and first black men. We had never seen one before. We had seen Indians occasionally going door to door selling things. I remember there were a lot of military toys about - model searchlights, canvas trucks, guns that fired caps and matchsticks. I remember railings and chains disappearing from in front of houses for the war effort. Searchlight beams varied. Some were straight and followed the planes. Others swept the sky like an arc.

Annette Ashby continued "I was in Coventry when war broke out. Mother and two brothers and my grandparents who had escaped from Jersey on the last plane out were all evacuated to Bilsdon, Leicestershire. We had ducks, chicken, hens and we were lent a pony. I loved it. We could see the flames from the fires in Coventry from where we were in Leicestershire. We did go back to Coventry before the end of the war. There was still some bombing but we were out of the worst of it.""
Coventry, West Midlands and Bilson, Leicestershire

David and Annette Ashby

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

In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
South West
1939 - 1945

"Friends of the late Helen Margaret Godsell Twitchett would like her name recorded in the Make do and Mend Project. Peggy died in June 2011 aged 101. Miss Twitchett was born in Gloucester and only moved away for a short period. For many years she worked at the former Holloway’s clothing factory in Brick Row, Stroud where she worked as the telephone switchboard operator including the first year of the Second World War. Then she left to work at Stroud Railway Station where she was employed as Goods Clerk. During the war her first boyfriend, a sailor, was killed and Peggy never married, remaining as Goods Clerk for 29 years before retiring. Peggy moved in to live with her Gran on Stroud's Paganhill Estate which had just been completed by the war and remained there for 70 years until she was 98."
Gloucester

Peggy Twitchett

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