Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

"I lived with my father Albert, mother Julia and my brother who was also called Albert, next door to the Warren household. The sirent went off as I was coming home from the Abbey School. I wasn't scared at the time, because the sirens were frequently going off. When I got home my brother Albert was at the Warren house playing with their boy Ronnie who was around his age. My mother went into the house to get him. Mrs Warren said he could stay with them if he wanted to, but she decided to bring him home. We were inside the house when all hell broke loose. There were suddenly very loud explosions all around us. Our other neighbour, Mrs Norris, was coming down the street with a young baby at the time. My mother rushed out to get them both, and we all dived in under the stairs. All five of us were under the stairs. It was quite dark and there were loud noises all around us. I remember being very scared, but I asked my mother if I should go upstairs and get our gas masks. She told me to stay put. It was lucky she did because when I came out from under the stairs and went to go to the landing there was nothing there. The top of the stairs had been blown away. Through the hap I could see the Warren house about eigh feet away. It was almost completely razed to the ground. I was told that one of the children had broken their back and the mother, Annie, had broken several ribs. An evacuee called Peter White lived with another of our neighbours, Mrs Lane. He came over to us, wearing no shoes. He told us he had been buried in rubble but had managed to get out. My mother noticed he had a big dent in the back of his head. She took him inside our house where we could heat up water and washed his wounds.
My father was coming back from Yeovil and saw the bombs dropping on the town. He was extremely worried for us. He was dropped off by what is now The Skippers pub and was told we were alright."
Sherborne, Dorset

Roy Herbert
was a boy when the bombs fell on Sherborne on 30th September 1940. He lived at 27 Lenthay Close, next door to the Warren family who tragically lost three children and an evacuee who had only been billeted there the night before.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Rona Moore nee Parfitt was the eldest of five children and lived for over 70 years in the North East Somerset village of Timsbury. On leaving school she worked at Fry's in Keynsham until the Second World War when she recalled she worked on Lancaster bombers. After the war she returned to Fry's and later joined the staff of the Cheshire Homes at Timsbury where she stayed until she retired."
Somerset

Rona Moore

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1941

"I was 11 years old in 1940 and my brother, Cyril, was 13. We lived with our parents at No 13 Horsecastles - our grandparents lived at No 17. As the siren had sounded on September 30th I was indoors playing 'patience'. My brother was in the garden, probably feeding our pet rabbit and guinea pig - but he managed to rush indoors - through the glass-roofed scullery to join my mother and me under the kitchen table.
I remember the boise, the shattering of glass, and the choking dust which seemed to go on for ages, though I am told it was a mere 3 1/2 minutes! I remember Cyril crwaling out at some stage to prevent a wooden door falling across us. The nearest bomb was in the garden of No 15 - quite close enough!
When things had quietened down my brother made his way up to No 17 to check on our grandmother. He found her safe, but shocked, hiding behind the door of her downstairs bedroom. Our grandfather was at Sturminster Newton helping the auctioneers 'Senior and Godwin' at the weekly market. Our grandparents stayed for several weeks with the Headmaster and his wife, Mr and Mrs Avery at the Abbey School.
Our father was working as a threshing machinist somewhere in the locality - and when he got back to Sherborne the police tried to stop him going down Horsecastles because of the debris of slates, electricity wires, glass and so on but he said "my family is down there" so they let him pass.
We stayed with Dad's sister in Kings Road for a week or some - some nights spent in their Anderson Shelter in the garden in case it should all happen again. Eventually Dad found us some accomodation in part of a farmhouse with Mr Casely at Adber - and because we had a safe place to stay the workmen used our house to store their equipment and have their 'canteen' while repairing all the houses in the row. I remember going up to the attic, which was my bedroom, and being able to see daylight through the lath and plaster ceiling.
We enjoyed living on the farm and cycling into Sherborne to school. Cyril learnt to milk cows, drive a tractor and we rode the car horses and cut wedges of hay from the hat-ricks to feed the stock.
The farm was sold in March 1941, so we moved again, to share some rooms with Mr Casely's son Leslie and his family in Trent for some weeks - so it must have been Spring or Summer 1941 before we moved back into our repaired house in Horsecastles."
Sherborne, Dorset

June Helson
nee Pike of Sherborne enjoyed her Bombing Memories afternoon at the museum on 30th September, exactly 70 years after the bombing raid on the town. Afterwards she was inspired to put pen to paper and record her memories of that day.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

"I was 6 1/2 and can remember the Sherborne Bombing Raid well [30th September 1940]. We lived in the middle of town, in Hound Street. I was sick that day so I hadn't been to school. It was Mother's Monday washing day. I should have been at Abbey School. My brother was at Foster's Grammar School. Our neighbour Lucy Pearce took me in with them and put us all under the bench in the larder which was in the middle of the house. There were three bombs within 100 yards of us - one on the opposite side of the road in the entrance to what is now the Digby Hall, one in the Digby School tennis courts and one at the back entrance to Woolworths, a short distance down the road. I remember the bed coming through the ceiling - it is crystal clear still - and the smell - I can still smell it it was a funny smell. There were no ceilings and no roof on our house and next door. We were evacuated to an Aunt in Coldharbour. It was amazing the house was repaired in just six months! Father was a glove cutter in Yeovil. He heard of the road on the bus back to Sherborne and was told Hound Street was no more! I remember his face when he got back in town and found us. He got on his knees 'thank God' I remember all the rubble. We lost everything. Before we had gas - it was a shilling [5p] in the meter but afterwards we had electricity. We were diverted to my Aunt's in Coldharbour via The Avenue where there was a house on fire, because there was an unexploded bomb in North Road. I remember coming back into our house after it was repaired so clearly. I remember one of the bombs landed on the field of the Boys Boarding House in Hound Street. They had dug trenches all around the field. Fortunately there wer no boys in them on that day. The crater stayed there until the Digby Hall was built in the early 1970s."
Sherborne, Dorset

Mike Tompkins

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1945

"We were up in Lenthay Playing Fields at 4pm - out of Abbey School in Horsecastles. I remember the sirens sounding and we ran home [Monday 30th September 1940 Sherborne]. Mum and my sisters and the Air Raid Warden were looking for us and Mr Wiscombe from the Cemetery house [ at No 1 South View, Lenthay]. The Air Raid Warden heard a noise and looked up and saw a plane 'Good God Mrs - bombs'. Mum turned us back to go under the stairs but we only got as far as the front room. I was heading for under the stairs but tripped over a broom and Joy fell on top of me. Mr Wiscombe followed us in. The Air Raid Warden threw himself on top of us. When we got outside after it was all over we saw The Warren's house was flattened. Before that we had always gone to the Digby Mausoleum for Sunday School but we couldn't because of an unexploded bomb. I remember the ARPs and Rescue Squads arriving and wondered what to do. The Public School Army Cadet boys also arrived to help. We had no ceilings and damaged walls and were told to go and stay with relations. My Gran in Coldharbour was pleased to see us. We had a bomb crater in the garden - I remember the squad digging down to find it and then it was abandoned because they were called to Portland to deal with unexploded bombs - I wonder if it is still there. Six soldiers were billeted in our ruined house and their canteen was set up next door. Our potatoes and cabbages were dug up!
Father was billeted at Shroton near Blandford after getting out of Dunkirk. He was a Sergeant in the BEF in France. He found a place for us and we moved there for 19 or 20 weeks. I remember going to school at Shroton and then we all returned to Sherborne."
Sherborne, Dorset

Tony Noake

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.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1940

"On 30th September 1940 I was a day pupil aged 12 at Sherborne Preparatory School which was bordered by Acreman Street on one side and Richmond Road on the other, close to the Sherborne School playing fields and two of the houses Westcott and Lyon.
My father was Headmaster of Foster's Grammar School, an old 17th Century foundation. In 1874 new school buildings had been opened at the top of Hound Street together with a Boarding House attached. My father became Headmaster in 1929 and, ten years later, the new buildings in Tinneys Lane had been completed and opened on October 1st 1939. The Boarding House, which was also our home, remained in Hound Street and backed on to a field which separated it from Harper House lower down. When the air raid siren sounded at about 4.30pm I was having rugger practice on the playing field opposite Lyon House. We hurriedly ran to the cellars in Netherton House which was adjacent to the Prep School buildings. It was not long before bombs began falling as the German aeroplanes, heading for Bristol, were intercepted by Hurricanes and Spitfires. The bombs were dropped diagonally from Lenthay Common across the town to Coldharbour causing extensive damage to buildings at either end and in the centre of Sherborne.
The Headmaster, Mr Fred Lindsey, was told that they had fallen between Big School and the Science block and also in The Courts. As a result day boys at the Prep School were divided into small groups with a senior boy who was given the responsibility of keeping his party together until they found a way through to their home area of the town. My group consisted of boys living in the area of Hound Street, Newland, North Road, The Avenue and Coldharbour. None of us had any idea of the destruction we were to encounter as we made our way down Acreman Street and on towards the centre of town via Half Moon Street where the damage was considerable. The Half Moon Hotel had suffered a direct hit at the back as had Phillips the Drapery store on the corner of Lower Cheap Street and Half Moon Moon Street and also a Saddler's shop. Unknown to us, the bomb at Phillip's had not exploded and, fortunately, was not to do so until after midnight. Broken glass and rubble from damaged shop fronts was everywhere.
We continued to stumble our way up Cheap Street and into Hound Street as best we could and after seeing the boys in my charge to within sight of their homes I returned to my home at the top of Hound Street. There I found my nine year old sister and the Foster's School boarders who had returned to the boarding house before the siren had sounded. They had been taken to the trenches in the adjacent field where it was not long before they heard the approaching noise of aircraft and the sound of falling bombs. The master in charge shouted "Get down, get down" just before a bomb fell a hundred yards away at the bottom of the field. Several more bombs fell between the boarding house and the new school buildings in Tinney's Lane, including a direct hit on the Foster's Infants School at the Newland end of the lane. Mercifully, school for the Headmistress, Miss Jerrim, and the children had ended at 3.30pm and the school was empty. Further bombs fell on the cottage in front of the main gates to the new Foster's School buildings and not far away from the trenches at the end of the playing field where my father, the staff and some of the boys were sheltering.
An Old Boy of the school later wrote 'It was while I was a pupil at Foster's School that Sherborne was bombed late one afternoon with the last two of several hundred bombs falling opposite the school and on the playing field near the trenches where we were all sheltering. Although the boys were really scared throughout, Mr Lush showed complete control and a caring firmness in talking to us which was exactly what was required. We shall always remember him with great affection.'
After the all-clear had sounded, my father had to make sure that all the boys who had been in the trenches had left for home before he could make his own way to the boarding house, all the time not knowing whether the family, staff and the boarders were safe and unharmed. For him, the damage to the school was comparatively superficial and could have been much worse, but it must have been very disheartening as he trod amongst the shattered glass and rubble of the new buildings which had been opened less than a year before. All the way from Tinneys Lane to Hound Street broken glass and rubble was everywhere, and it must have been a tremendous relief to him to find the boarding house comparatively undamaged although there was broken glass everywhere and no electricity, gas or water. The inhabitants, too, were all alive though somewhat shaken.
Not long after, I arrived home and found everyone working hard to make the house as habitable as possible. Throughout that night and for the next few days several unexploded bombs were to go off before Sherborne could begin to return to any sort of normality. I remember clearly the sirens sounding frequently at night for many months after to signal that German bombers were on their way to Yeovil, Bristol and the Midlands and we all had to get up and assemble in the reinforced passage on the ground floor of the boarding house. However, there were no further raids on the scale of the one that had taken place in the late afternoon of September 30th 1940 in which over 300 bombs were dropped on Sherborne."
Sherborne, Dorset

John Lush
of Eastbourne, East Sussex recalls he was a 12 year old Sherborne Prep School Boy.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
My Second World War experiences.
"I was aged four when war broke out in 1939. I lived in Sherborne, Dorset, with my Mum and Dad and my cat, Smut, who was a fantastic catcher of mice and rabbits - all these trophies he brought home to our doorstep!! We lived in a council house on the western outskirts of Sherborne in an area called 'Lenthay'. My best friend, Barbara (two months younger than me), lived next door - we were inseparable and started school together in September 1940 at the Abbey Primary School. We always carried our gas masks in a square cardboard box on string round our necks and we had identification bracelets giving our name, date of birth and National Identity number.
The first lot of evacuees from London came to Sherborne in October 1939 and we had a girl called Ivy Mahoney billeted with us. She was from a poor family and my mum soon found new underwear and clothes for her as her own were falling apart. She taught me lots of Cockney songs and my dad used to play schools (writing on a blackboard) in the evenings with us; he was always the teacher! He also played his records on the wind-up gramaphone; that's when I first realised how much I liked to dance. Ivy was very homesick, in spite of my parents loving care, and after six months her mother came and took her back to London in 'The Phoney War' when the expected German bombing did not start. Sadly, however, she and her family were killed in a later bombing raid on the East End of London.

So . . my Dad had to give up his job at the start of the war and was seconded to the Army, requisitioning (taking over) houses for Army use towards the war effort. He was also a Special Police Constable and went out on patrol at night, leaving me and my cat Smut asleep on a camp bed under the stairs each night, in case of a night bombing attack. It was great fun for me sleeping there. My Dad's office was a mile away on the other side of town.

On Monday 30th September 1940, Barbara and I were taken to school as usual, sitting on our little seats behind our Mums on their bicycles - Barbara's Mum was a teacher in our school. We each had our bottle of milk in the morning as usual, and after our sandwich lunch had a rest 'heads on hands' on our school desks. My Mum met me at 3 o'clock after school on the bike. [See Pam's separate account of that afternoon to continue the story of that day.]

My Dad was 'called up' into the RAF on the 17th August 1942 aged 35. When he was training to be an Armourer (Bomb loader) at Hereford, Mum and I followed him there and stayed with some friends. I went to school in Hereford for two terms and really enjoyed it - I had a friend called "Orange"! I remember sitting in a rocking chair, eating chestnuts - Hereford is famous for its many chestnut trees. Then Dad was posted to Warmwell, near Weymouth, so we returned home. He then went to Scotland and, finally, Norway - so I didn't see him for a year or more. I still have a bracelet and brooch he brought me back from our Norwegian friends, Ingrid and Eimar.
While Dad was away it was just, Mum, me and the cat - quite cosy in winter with the 'blackouts' up at the windows. "NO LIGHTS TO BE SHOWN AT ALL " (in case bombers could see buildings etc) ARP Wardens came round at night to make sure no lights were showing anywhere - no street lights for six years! We didn't have too much food to eat, although Mum grew some vegetables in the garden. Our ration of cheese for two for a week could be eaten in one or two sandwiches. Many hours were spent by me shaking the cream from the top of pints of milk to turn it into a little butter!
My Gran in Sussex had a smallholding and we sometimes received a plucked chicken in the post from her. I remember once the post was delayed and the bird was rotten when we received it. No sweets, chocolates, bananas, oranges, ice-cream. Bread, vegetables, a little meat and cheese, fish, dried eggs (ugh) were on ration and available. Some people kept chickens for the eggs ( and the dead chickens). When my Dad was eventually demobbed in 1946 I had left Primary School, had passed the 11-plus and was attending Grammar School ( Lord Digby's School for Girls, Sherborne). I can still vividly remember running up the road in my school uniform (my skirt was dyed navy-blue and cut down from one of Mum's, because clothes were rationed too) and greeting this Dad who I hadn't seen for a long time. We soon sorted ourselves out as a family and I thrived from a very happy childhood."
Sherborne, Dorset

Pam Kaile
nee Biss
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"My father was the vicar of our village. During the war we had to dig up our lawns and gardens and turn them into allotments. Close to our garden was the park. My father used to take my sister with him and they used to go off with the wheelbarrow each week to gather sheep droppings for manure for the garden. I remember my sister was asked at school what she had been doing at the weekend and I shall always remember her reply 'I had to help my father gather up the sheep motions for the garden!'"
East Coker, Somerset

Monica Whipp
of East Coker recalls.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"Alf was born in London in 1910 into a middle class family. One of his earliest memories was of Zeppelin airships bombing London and research has shown that there was a raid on the night of 31st May - 1st June 1915. When he was 28 he joined the RAF hoping to be a pilot. He was very disappointed he failed the medical due to colour blindness. Instead he became involved with the development of ground based and later airborne aircraft - intercept radar, which was proceeding at a rapid pace with war imminent. After the outbreak of World War II he was stationed at Bawdsey Manor in Suffolk at what was then the cutting edge of British electronic research.
It was here that he met his future wife 'Dinks' and they were married a year later at Sherborne Abbey, Dorset. Best man was his brother in law Wing Commander 'Gerry' Lawrence.
Their romance was against a background of Britian at war and Dinks recalls being in a cinema in Exeter with Alf when a bombing raid occured, and the pandemonium that ensued. She also recalls during their honeymoon, walking with Alf and being shot at by German Messerschmidts flying low along the road.
Alf recalled the chaos of Dunkirk in May 1940; for several days and nights he was one of many helping with the rapid refuelling and servicing of fighter aircraft flying in and then straight back to France, often with their engines left running and pilots remaining in their cockpits; such was the speed of their turnaround - and aircraft flying in so shot up they were unable to take off again.
Alf and Dinks spent several idyllic months stationed on the Isle of Man before Alf was posted overseas to Calcutta, India, in September 1941. He was on a troopship called 'The Empress of Russia'. It was part of a convoy which sailed first to Iceland and then down the Western Atlantic to avoid German U-boats. Conditions on board rapidly became appalling and the convoy was attacked at leasty once by U-Boats, with neighbouring ships being hit and going down.
In Calcutta, Alf helped build small radar stations on barges so they could be moved about. Then he moved to Burma where the British 14th Army were fighting the Japanese. Alf never talked much about his time in Burman. He was lucky to avoid caputre by the advancing Japanese on a number of occasions. During this time his borhter, Hubert, was killed in April 1942, while defusing an unexploded bomb in Birmingham.
His war ended when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945 and after some time in Bombay was able to return home to England where his wife, Dinks, hadn't seen him for several years."
Worldwide

Flt Lieutenant Alfred Lewis Winn
25th May 1910 - 17th June 1998. Extracts from his memoirs written down by a friend.

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