Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Mum was expecting me. She was living in Newland, Sherborne. Dad was serving abroad. She was bombed out in the only Sherborne bombing raid. Dad was not allowed to come home. She was re-homed in a little cottage in Trendle Street."
Sherborne, Dorset

Ann Guppy

In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
1939 - 1945

"John Porter recalls the women of his village, near Wilsden in Lincolnshire, held regular knitting groups. All spare wool was gathered and knitted into squares to be made into blankets for the bombed out families in London"
Wilsden, Lancashire

John Porter

Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I went to Westminster Bridge Road Primary School. I was evacuated with my younger brother Peter who was four. I was almost six as my birthday was the 7th October. We thought it was an adventure. It was like going on holiday. Our headteacher Mrs Campbell, Mr Foster and Miss Dobson came with us. I remember we were given barley sugar sticks to suck on the journey. We all enjoyed those. We stopped at Templecombe Station [ some eight miles outside the town, although Sherborne had its own station] and had to get off the train. I don't know why it didn't steam into Sherborne. I remember it was dark. We had to get on to coaches and were transported to the Digby Hall in Digby Road. It was very late by then and we spent the night at Cmdr. Nash's house in Sandford Road [ now called Dymor]. In the morning Peter and I were collected by Win and Jim Gould and went to the home at 2 Coombe Terrace. Win was organist at St Paul's Church Coombe, a red brick building now an engineers, on the other side of the road. She also played the organ at Sandford Orcas and Poyntington and walked to those villages as they didn't have any transport of their own. I didn't enjoy having to go to church three times on Sundays. I sang in the choir. I did enjoy collecting the stamps for good attendance at the Sunday School. They were very colourful and we stuck them in our albums.
The Goulds were such nice people. We had a good home. Jim was a carpenter - the best in the street. Jim had a large garden that stretched right up from Coombe to Marston Road where he had his workshop. They had a large chicken called Henrietta who laid well and they grew most of their own food. The meal I didn't like was fried egg and mashed potato!
At home father worked on the railway, an essential job so he wasn't allowed to join the RAF. Mum and my younger brother Bill were evacuated to Exeter but they were bombed there and evacuated to Wells! Mum and Dad sent me a pair of heavy boots once. I didn't like them at all and called them 'clodhoppers' and tried to kick them and wear them out.
We were able to take part in potato picking and paid six pence an hour. We had to walk to Crackmoor on the outskirts of Milborne Port to pick up conkers. They were packed into wooden barrells and once full sold off to the Council Offices at Ludbourne Road, Sherborne and were used as pig food. We also picked rose hips which were rich in Vitamin C. When we had filled a two pound kilner jar full we could take those to the Council Offices and wer paid two pence. They were made into rose hip syrup. Mum used to send us a three pence postal order each week from London. We used to go to Woolworths. They still had sweets. We used to spend it on MIlky Ways and Golly Bars - these were toffee strips and you got four for a penny. We always managed to get treats. Sweets were not rationed then and we also had a tuck shop at school. We could also get ice cream.
Jim made a shelter under the stairs of plywood with benches round it. When the air raid sirens went off we had to hammer on the wall to Mrs Penny next door because she was deaf and couldn't hear the siren.
When it was harvest time we used to go into the fields to catch rabbits. All of the children were given a stick and we had enough to stand right around the edges of the field. As the harvest was cut the rabbits would go into the centre of the field and when the machines got closer they would run out and we would kill them. We weren't allowed to take home all the ones we caught. We had to put them all into a pool and the farmer would share them out at the end of the day.
We would also go out sticking - collecting sticks for the fire.
We used to play a lot of games. We had a darts board and we also used to do a lot of drawing. Paper was not in short supply. Jim was good artistically, being a cabinet maker. I remember painting a large picture of a parrot and it won a local competition.
The countryside seemed strange to us. We were frightened of cows at first but soon got used to them. We thought the hills around us were mountains!
I remember the only bombing raid that hit Sherborne in 1940. I was walking home from school. I remember at least one evacuee was killed in it. I remember the strong smell of gas in the air afterwards and Uncle Jim going out with his first aid kit on patrol. One night I heard a German plane low overhead. We knew it was going to crash it was so low but we boys were not allowed to get up and watch it. The men saw it in flames. It crashed in Poyntington village a few milesd away and the crew were buried in the churchyard for some time. After the war their bodies were returned to Munich.
We used to search for bits of plane and shrapnel to keep.!
We kept in touch with the Goulds for the rest of their lives."
Sherborne, Dorset

Peter (4) and James Whiting (6) - a photo taken by their parents the day before they were evacuated from London to Sherborne. James Whiting
James now lives at Seaton, Devon after falling in love with the countryside after being evacuated to Sherborne on the 2nd September 1939 from London.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
As an evacuee in Sherborne during the war James Whiting recalls the Sherborne Bombing raid of 30th September 1940
"We were on our way home from school - me my brother Peter and Tommy Noakes. We were at the top of Ackerman Street when the bombs dropped. [their temporary home while evacuated from London was at Coombe Terrace] There was a strong smell of gas in the air which lingered for several days. The next day all the boys were out looking for shrapnel."
Sherborne, Dorset

Peter (4) and James Whiting (6) - a photo taken by their parents the day before they were evacuated from London to Sherborne. James Whiting
James now lives at Seaton, Devon after falling in love with the countryside after being evacuated to Sherborne on the 2nd September 1939 from London.
In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
South East
1939 - 1945

"We were not far from Biggin Hill airfield. We had big guns on wheels near us and a lot of plane activity. The guns did not actually have the range to hit the planes that flew over on their way to the city. I wasn't frightened. We lived in a bungalow. We were self sufficient. Kent had a lot of farms. Dad was a good gardener and Mum was a good cook. I was brought up on rations but we were not short of anything really. Dad kept rabbits, ducks and chickens so we had meat and eggs. I do remember the sweet rations though and thought it unfair that adults got a pound of sweets a month but children only three quarters of a pound!. We only had 2 ounces of butter a week. Word soon spread around the village when oranges came in. Mum would send me round to the greengrocers to stand in the queue. We didn't have bananas as you had to have a green ration book to have those. [a baby's ration book] Mum used to buy a large joint of beef and pot roast it so we had it hot on Sunday, cold on Monday and Tuesday and then the rest was minced. When that ran out Mum would make a bacon pudding. I didn't like it. It was the one meal I didn't like. She used to cut up the fatty ends of bacon and make it into a doughy pudding that was steamed in a handkerchief. I was evacuated to Birmingham when I was six. I hated it. After six weeks I wrote to Mum.
"Dear Mum. Take me home".
We were bombed a lot. We could see the fires over London during the blitz. Our bungalow was fire bombed. It destroyed the main bedroom but they managed to put the fire out before it reached the rest of the building. I remember the Doodlebugs too. The bombing was heavy. I remember the noise. When the noise stopped we ran inside and sheltered. A landmine hit the school next door. Fortunately it was empty at the time. We were smothered in plaster, glass and debris. The school was completely destroyed. A whole row of cottages was hit a short distance away and everyone was killed."
Kent and Birmingham

Pam and James Whiting pictured at Sherborne war memorial on 1st September 2009, 70 years after |James arrived in Sherborne as Pam Whiting
Pam was the daughter of Florence, known as May, and Walter Harrison. They lived at St Paul's Cray, a village in Kent about 16 miles from the heart of London.
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)
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was one of the Salvage Corps with the rest of the village youths at Great Somerford, Chippenham, Wiltshire. We collected newspaper for the war effort. There was a poster on the stable door where we sorted and stored it 'Help the National War Effort by Saving Waste Paper - Start today'. The stable was provided by the farmer Mr Cole of Hollow Street and organised by Lady Palmer of The Manor who supplied our transport, a horse and cart and sack trucks. We marched through the village carrying flags and banners in recognition of the war effort."
Wiltshire

Olive Gibbs
Aged 82, nee Wakefield recalls.
Everyday Life
Midlands
1938 - 1945

"The air raids were terrible. One awful night the ARP Wardens made us all leave our houses and go outside and lie in the ditch under the elm trees in the field. Shrapnel came down all around us. During the raid which went on for several hours there was also a storm of incendiary bombs. The noise was indescribable and we were so cold as it was November. Next day I walked the eight miles along the Coventry Road into the city to Lewis's. No buses could get through as so much of the Coventry Road had been blitzed. It was no wonder that the sky towards Birmingham had been so red the night before. Most of the places were still burning. When I eventually got within sight of Lewis's I found the road was barred because there was a 1000 lb unexploded bomb outside the main entrance to the store I had to turn round and walk home again. We had no gas, electricity or water. It was cut off for several days. There was one stand-pipe a quarter of a mile from the house and Mother and I took buckets there for water. Candles, when we could get them, provided light and we cooked what we could on the open fire or in the Valor oil-stove - if we had any paraffin. When we had a cousin coming we saved up three weeks of meat coupons to be able to buy a small joint. The night before was the night they bombed Coventry so badly and there was no gas, electricity or water. Father built a big fire in the grate and tied the joint up with string and suspended it from a poker in front of the fire. It took a long time to cook but it was delicious!"
Solihull

Peggy Nash
nee Williams. Born 14th April 1925
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
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945
Peggy recalls her first wartime meeting with her future parents-in-law
"We went down to High Wycombe for me to meet Jim's parents. We went on the motor-bike and I was so scared they wouldn't like me. I liked them very much and we got on so well together. We sat on the settee and watched Mother making doughnuts in the way the American chefs had taught her. The ingredients were by courtesy of the American Army - otherwise it wouldn't have been possible! They were delicious and smothered in sugar - we couldn't remember anything like them!" It was a different world than in Solihull. The garden at Backlands was lovely. The top half had apple, damson, greengae, plum, pear and cherry trees. By the cherry trees Dad had arks in which he kept rabbits and ducks. Water had to be fetched from the well in the next field. One September morning we got up very early and walked along the lane to a field where we picked several pounds of mushrooms. We tok them home and Mother cooked some for us with bacon and eggs from the farm next door - an unbelievable breakfast with rationing as it was, but one of the perks of living in the country. I helped pick fruit which Mother would bottle, jam or turn into wine. She was a great wine-maker. She also cooked marvellous meals on a tiny iron-range that was coal-fired and I ate more food in that weekend than I had for a month! Jim's mother was housekeeper at the American Air Force HQ at Wycombe Abbey and was in charge of the meals for the Officers' Mess. They used to give her parcels of food, especially sugar, whenever they could. They so often had a surplus as they weren't rationed like we were. It was a shock to their system when they first came over to England and found they couldn't just walk into a cafe or restaurant and order steak and chips or a hamburger. We often went down to Wycombe on the motor-bike for the day. It was like another world - so peaceful and quiet - except for one weekend when a flying bomb ( doodlebug) landed in the next field and blew us out of bed! It killed a lot of chickens and turkeys My parents had always insisted I hand over my unopened pay packet, though they didn't need it. I was given five shillings a week pocket money (25p) and had to buy everything. Neither of my parents gave us a wedding present. I had enough ration coupons for our three sheets and three blankets and Jim gave me the money for them - all we were allowed. It was difficult to have a white wedding in wartime. I wore a pale blue crepe dress, a navy blue bonnet shaped hat and navy court shoes and gloves and carried red roses. We were lucky as there was a very big wedding before ours and the church was full of flowers."
High Wycombe

Peggy Nash
nee Williams. Born 14th April 1925

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