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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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

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember there were decoy lights sited in Clifton Wood to fool the German bombers into thinking that the wood was Westlands Aero Factory. A number of bombs were dropped there but none exploded and they were later removed by RAF crews. Barrage balloons were sited in Barwick Park [on the outskirts of Yeovil]. They broke free in high winds and one landed in Clifton Maybank and people came from Bradford Abbas to cut pieces off for souvenirs.
Supplies for the Fleet at Portland and the D Day landings were transported by trains on the Yeovil to Weymouth line and many of these trains were pulled by two American engines which still had cow catchers on the front. Another engine had to be used at the rear to push the heavily laden trains up the track over the Evershot incline. The fields between Broadclose and Huish Farm in Clifton were full of American troops and vehicles before D Day. One morning the whole lot had disappeared to embark from Weymouth for Omaha beach. On one occasion an American pilot flying a Westland Lysander force landed on Broadclose Farm ground and the pilot stayed with the family in their farmhouse for several days.
I can recall my father standing in the open front doorway of Broadclose Farmhouse watching and listening to planes droning by overhead and telling the family that these were German planes and they were on their way to bomb Bristol.
As a pupil at Bradford Abbas Primary School I can remember being escorted with all the other pupils from the school to take cover in the air raid trenches in the paddock where the 'new' part of the school is now."
Bradford Abbas, Dorset

Jack Mellish
spent his wartime years on the family farm on the outskirts of Bradford Abbas, Dorset. His memories sharply contrast with his wife, Wendy's, whose wartime years were spent in Bristol.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1945

"I was born in Bristol in the winter of 1940 and as a baby of course blissfully unaware of the conflict in progress. It is family folk lore now that at that time my father did not have a car and cycled and slithered along icy roads to his best friend's house who then took him and my mother in his car to the Bristol Maternity Hospital. My mother, so the story goes, was dressed to the nines in a coat, hat, fox fur stole complete with it's head and tail, and gloves.
However, gradually I became aware that my father, who was a Special Constable, disappeared off into the blackout on his bicycle, to spend the night on duty. Father was by day in a reserved occupation in a Bristol factory.
I remember visiting an aunt and uncle at their farm just outside Gloucester and standing at the roadside watching and being almost deafened by enormous army tanks trundling past. I can remember the sound of the sirens - but cannot remember being at all frightened. I remember the shelter under the pantry which we got into by clambering thru' a trapdoor in the pantry floor. When we were all ensconced in there one night there was an almighty crash and my parents feared the worst, but in fact some saucepans had fallen off a shelf!
Most of all I remember much laughter, happiness and silly jokes between parents, relatives and neighbours, which I now find quite amazing as at times conditions must have been terrifying and so many husbands and sons were away.
I remember that on VE Day 1945 all the neighbours who lived in our road organised a fete and sports day at what was later to become Cleeve Rugby Club, at which we were all presented with red, white and blue rosettes and I was taught to plait with the three tails of my rosette. I remember that my mother kept eggs in isinglass in a bucket under the stairs. Fresh eggs were a rarity which we enjoyed after a visit to my grandparents in the country.
I also remember dried milk and orange juice from the 'clinic'. A real and rare luxury was a tin of salmon and a tin of peaches - kept for special occasions such as when the family visited. A friend of my grandmother's made me a skirt to wear to school from the handed down suit trousers of my father's. All my jumpers were hand knitted."
Bristol

Wendy Mellish
was a wartime baby, born in Bristol and now resides in Dorset.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1945

"Thinking about it all has reawakened many more wartime memories. I learned to read at the age of three - a sign outside the sweetshop saying 'No Ices'. I remember the 'pig bin' along our road into which everyone scraped their leftover scraps after Sunday lunch to be boiled up to feed the pigs. The metal chains strung between the pillars on ours and all our neighbours' front garden walls were taken for the 'War Effort' to make aeroplanes we were told.
I remember the bombed sites surrounding and in the heart of Bristol. In fact these sites were used for car parking and became commonplace. There were also the British Restaurants where plain reasonably priced meals were served.

Life was different outside of Bristol Wendy found.

I remember waiting at the station with my mother to catch the train from Fishponds (Bristol) to my grandparent's farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire. I was absolutely terrified that the 'gangers', the men working on the line, would get run over by our train. We came home laden with eggs, a chicken and home cured bacon from Grampy's Gloucester Old Spot pigs.

My mother took me to Weston Super Mare on the train for a week's holiday in 1944 when I was about four years old. £5 was enough for our guest house accomodation plus a skirt and a pair of shoes for my mother - and ice creams for me!

Wendy lived in Bristol until 1960 and after a move to Somerset settled in West Dorset and has now discovered her maternal Gloucestershire branch of her family actually originated from Dorset, having traced this side of her family back to the 1600s."
Bristol

Wendy Mellish
was a wartime baby, born in Bristol and now resides in Dorset.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Mr Reason (I think his wife called him Billy) was very badly injured in the German bomber raid on Sherborne. He lived in the second house next to Newland School which received a direct hit. He spent a number of weeks in the Yeatman Hospital. As they were friends with my parents Mrs Reason came to live with us at Glenville in Long Street. When Mr Reason was discharged from hospital he joined his wife with us in a bedsitter in our house (Glenville) in Long Street. They stayed with us for most of the remainder of the war years. When he was well enough he went back to his taxi work ( He had his own taxi business). He also helped Horace Hamblin at the radion shop at the top of Long Street."
Sherborne, Dorset

Mr H Reason
Raymond Baker of Wingfield Road, Sherborne has donated a photograph labelled Mr H Reason to the museum collection.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"We lived at Budleigh Salterton, Devon and I remember we visited Exmouth.I was only a little girl. I remember seeing a large number of American troops who were billeted in the town. I remember the Officers were accommodated in a big house. The white Americans were all put into houses - those houses that didn't already have evacuees. They could wander about wherever they liked. I remember asking why the black troops - and there were a lot of them - had to live in tents on the front. I couldn't understand why - even at my young age. They were not allowed to wander about like the white Americans and had restricted hours. It struck me as wrong."
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Mrs Radgick
was visiting the museum recently from Devon and had a vivid childhood wartime memory she wanted to share with us.
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

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

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"We lived near the Bristol Aircraft Company factory so we were a frequent target. I remember running home from school with the planes coming overhead. I stayed on the pavement to watch with mother shouting to get indoors. Sometimes the planes would continue up North."
Bristol

Adrian Jelf
had a very different war to his wife Brenda for she was in Sherborne which only had one bombing raid, although it claimed the life of her father, and he was in Bristol which was constantly bombed.
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

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