Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"Blankets and sheets were rationed. We were allowed three sheets and two blankets on a permit so patchwork quilts were made out of scraps and knitted squares became popular. Rag rugs were made out of strips of worn out stockings or peg rugs made from tailors sample books pegged into hessian."
Sherborne, Dorset

Joan Miller

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Popular Yetminster couple Kit and Harold Cheeseman, both 89, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today (Friday 30th). It was a chance cycle ride to Sherborne from her home at Marston Magna that led to them meeting and romance quickly blossomed. Harold worked for the then Greenham’s butchers in Sherborne and the couple enjoyed a quiet early morning wedding at West Coker. Less than a year later after war broke out Harold spent six years in the army serving with the Somerset Light Infantry, the Oxford and Bucks Regiment and after a mission to France attached to the Green Howard parachute unit found he was one of only three out of 50 to survive. During the war Kit had to leave her baby with her mother at West Coker, being called up for work at the Twine Factory at East Coker where she recalls working seven days a week from 8am – 6pm for the weekly wage of 12s 6d!
In the early 1950s the couple moved to Yetminster where they have lived ever since. Their Platinum Anniversary will be spent with their family. They have five children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. "
Dorset

Kit and Harold Cheeseman
Kit and Harold Cheeseman of Thornford Road, Yetminster who celebrate their Platinum (70th) Wedding Anniversary today (30th Jan)
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
1942 - 1942

"Christmas Day 1942 we had Lieutenant Knott and Sandy Powell , a Lance Corporal from the A.A. Battery to dinner. Somewhere father had obtained a small chicken and Mother made a pudding from dired elderberries, carrots and apples and about a tea cupful of dried fruit. The cake was much the same but the marzipad was cooked semolina and flour with almond essence she had saved from before the war and the icing was a little of our sugar ration and dried milk powder. We were very proud of that cake! There weren't any crackers, dates, nuts, oranges, tinned fruit - and there were no Christmas trees! The rations for one person per week were 4oz of bacon - usually very, very fat, 2 ounces of butter, 2 ounces of preserves (jam and marmalade), 1 ounce of cheese, a shillings worth of meat (5p) which amounted to about 10 ounces of fresh meat. You were supposed to get one fresh egg a week but it was often five or six weeks before they came in and you had to queue at the shop by 8am if you hoped to get 2 - no matter how many ration books you had. COupons also had to be used for that rare tin of Spam. It worked out roughly at one tin of something each month. Tea was also rationed at 2 ounces a week and sugar was 8 ounces but soon went dow to 4 ounces. At one time even bread and potatoes were rationed. There were long queues at butchers hoping to get 2 sausages or a slice of liver as they weren't rationed. Many children were years old before they ever saw a banana, orange, lemon or grapefruit. There was a small ration of soal and soap powder. Every scrap of soap had to be used. Small pieces were kept until there were enough pieces to melt down with a little water to make it soft. Clothes were rationed too and shoes had wooden soles because of a shortage of leather. Knickers and petticoatds were made out of worn out nighties and frocks were turned into blouses or skirts and mens things cut down and remade into childrens clothes. Worn out knitted things were unpicked and multicoloured striped jumpers became fashionable. Sheets were turned sides to the middle and then made into pillowcases. There were no nylon stockings only cotton lisle ones. We dyed our legs with permanganate of potash and then drew a line up the back with a brown crayon for a seam. If you got caught in a real downpour the brown went blotchy! Father once brought home half of a silk parachute. We didn't ask where he got it from. We turned it into nighties and undies. At the end of July 1942 I was 'called up' and sent to the Warwickshire Agricultural Committee Hostel (War Ag) to work as an assistant cook. It was hard work. You were lucky if you had a day off a week and usually worked over 60 hours a week. It was better than working in a noisy munitions factory."
Solihull

Peggy Nash
nee Williams. Born 14th April 1925
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1941 - 1947

"I was born at Sutton Bingham, Somerset. Our cottage was pulled down when they built the reservoir in the 1950s. I left school in 1941 when I was 14 years old and went to work at Netherton Farm, Closworth three miles away. I worked there three years before I was old enough to join the Land Army as a dairymaid. I started looking after the ducks, chicken, geese and turkeys. I fed the pigs and the calves and had to hand milk the cows until they had a milking machine. There was no electricity. We had paraffin lanterns for lighting the house and the cow stalls and had to carry them with us. Then we had a milking machine powered by a Lister ending. I had a yoke to carry two large buckets of milk to the dairy at a time. It was put into a large bowl and left to strain after it passed through the cooler. We grew kale, turnips, cow cabbages, sugarbeet, mangels, potatoes and kale. It was hard work hoeing all of the crops between milking times. We still had horses to do the mowing and reaping. I met my husband Leslie in 1947. Everything was rationed. We had to have coupons to get the furniture. All we could get was a sideboard, a table and four chairs, one armchair, a bed and a dressing-table! Edna and her husband Leslie now live at Ryme Intrinseca, about two miles from where she worked during the war. Leslie was delighted to be presented with a long service medal for his lifetime's work on the farm at the Dorset County Show."
Sutton Bingham, Somerset

Edna Gillard
nee House
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"At 100 Dorothy recalled "I was the youngest of four. My father, Charles, was shepherd on the farm and when he died my oldest brother Harry took over. I remember him coming home from the First World War. I was eight when he was called up. By the time the Second World War started, Mother, Elizabeth, had a heart condition so I was exempted from war work because I had to look after her. We were lucky in the country and being on the farm we had most things that we needed. I did gloving at home. Mine were leather samples of the highest quality that were sent out to store buyers. Ours was such a small village and off of the main road so the war didn't affect us a lot. We had our garden and I made jam.""
Closworth near Yeovil

Dorothy Loveless
Lived all her life at Closworth near Yeovil, Somerset in the cottage where she was born.
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.
In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"There was no heating anywhere as coal was rationed. We had a big black range, my mother would set it in the morning before she went to work and I lit it when I got back from school – we lit it late to make it last. Sometimes you could get coke which used to burn a long time. I slept up in the attic with a candle and it was really cold. There were two bedrooms, both with fireplaces, but you only ever had a fire if you were ill."
Wimborne, Dorset

Betty Bletsoe
nee Ellis (aged 79) from Wimborne, Dorset
Food and Cooking
In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"You couldn't get wallpaper so my father used to distemper the walls and sometimes used to let us children sponge patterns on it in any colours we had left in the bottom of emulsion paint tins from before the war.
Mum used to give us girls some scissors on a Saturday to cut up any newspapers we had bought in the week - they were half size and not very many of them - into toilet paper for the next week. We had to thread the squares on to string that was used time and time again and hang them up on the hooks on the back of the outside toilet door. Mum used to make Butmar, she used to call it, mixing the small butter ration with any left over margarine from her cooking to make it go further. If we were running short of sugar she used carrots from the garden for sweetening and carrot cake was popular. Parsnips could also be boiled down into a paste and mixed with a little flavouring for a spread on the bread. I didn't like bread and dripping much! Dad had kept racing pigeons before the war and instead of racing them he used to breed them so we had some extra eggs and pigeon meat. They used to breed all the time so we always had extra meat for the table! Dad's Uncle kept a few bees so sometimes we were lucky and were given a jar of honey. I didn't like the lumpy bits of comb in some if it but it would have meant too much honey being lost if it had been strained to remove them."
Frome, Somerset

Gladys Neads

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Now both residents of Leigh Old Vicarage Care Home our interview ended as lunch was about to be served.
They asked what was on the menu and laughed when they were told it was gammon!
""We both came from farming families. Bet lived at Bailey Ridge, near Leigh, Dorset and I lived at Glanvilles Wootton"
Bet added " he used to cycle over to see me."
Reg continued " both farms were dairy, pigs and poultry. I had war time exemption to stay and help my father on the farm and my sister but my brother had to go in the army. We used to keep about five breeding sows [pigs]. Numbers were different then than now. Everyone had a few. Later on Bet's father put up the first pig sty, Danish type on top of Bailey Ridge. It was modelled after the Danish type. We kept Large whites, Saddlebacks and later Landrace Crosses. Black and whites were the better ones in those days. They were still natural then and they grazed the grass better. At 5 to 6 weeks they were called sucklers and we used to keep them on until they were ready. Breeds of pigs have changed. In the end we got round to keeping Landrace. Most were sold private.
Bet explained what happened to theirs " my father supplied Greehams the Butchers in Sherborne. They unsed to ring up when they wanted X numbers - usually up to five.
Reg said their used to be sold privately and to market sometimes.
"Everything was rationed - you used to have to sell the pig before you got the grub to feed them on!"
Bet agreed "you had to apply to the Ministry for the food. 5cwt. comes to mind but that might have been for the cows. You got so much a month for the piglet. We kept chicken too at home. - 100 pullets before we got married.
Reg said "everyone kept a few hens. We were alright for eggs. We weren't really short of anything in the war because we were both on farms and had everything we needed."
"when you killed a pig you salted it down - there were no freezers or anything like that. You had a lead brine bath - a large tray six feet long by four feet wide and about six inches deep for salting and you filled it with brine - mostly salt and some vinegar. We didn't have enough to drown it so you used to have to turn it and tip the brine over the meat."
Bet added "Mother made sausages and faggots and used all of the pigs head."
Reg laughed " the only thing wasted was the squeak!"
"It stayed a long time in the brine, I can't remember how long. You had to keep turning it to keep it covered."
Bet recalled "when you wanted to cook it you had to soak it overnight to get all of the salt out otherwise it would have been too salty to eat."
Reg recalled "My father used to do pigs and then send the meat up to London in baskets by train. The porters used to take it.""
Holnest, Dorset

Betty and Reg Coffin
Reg explained.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was living in London when war broke out and was evacuated to Devon. My first place was in Honiton but it wasn't a very nice billet. They expected me to look after their child all the time and I wasn't used to that at home where I was the youngest! My sister was evacuated too but she cried so much she only stayed a week and went home. I stayed three years. I passed my school exam and went to Axminster High School. I had been living in South West London and we went to Devon by train - all of us as a school on a whole train. We didn't know where we were going. My parents didn't know either. We went with our suitcases and were picked up by the people who had volunteered to take us in. My lady was at the station to meet us. Her husband was a Scout Master but we didn't see him very often. I think he was involved in war work and working away. I liked the countryside. My grandmother lived in the countryside and that was where I finished up eventually and went to school in Reading. I didn't find it boring or quiet. My Gran was good at turning her hand at anything. At the lady's who had us at Axminster - mother, daughter and grandchild as well - we didn't have much in the wau of eating - very poor really. The rations went to the lady of the house and she eeked it out. Clothes - can't remember much about clothes. My mother was a seamstress. I expect she made us clothes. Mum and Dad came down separately at times to see me when I was in Devon.
My Gran in Reading - now that was fun. Half of the field behind her house was the REME HQ. There was a big camp there and so we half expected to be bombed but we never were. We saw the planes going over. There was a trememndous amount of activity. I went home before the end of the war. I finished school in the December and I went home early in 1945. That was at the time when the flying bombs and rockets were coming over London. We heard the rockets coming over and this tremendous whoosh and then the bombs fell. My sister was standing next to the oven and they dropped a bomb and the front door was blown off and the house was damaged and my sister went deaf - but it was only temporary. We saw a lot of houses destroyed. It was very frightening. I went to work for George Payne - they made Payne's Poppets, the chocolates. I started from scratch. They needed a young person in the office. I had a good training from filing to computers. Then they moved down to Devon after the war. I can't remember them being short of chocolate.
Nylon stockings were scarce. We did get some but I can't remember how we used to get hold of them!"
Devon and Reading

Olive Newton

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