Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"We worked on the farm. We really didn't know much about the war. We didn't have any shortages I can think of. We had evacuees in Chetnole. They didn't stay long. They soon got fed up with the country and went home. At one time we had evacuees billeted on us. They went to Chetnole School."
Chetnole, Dorset

Paul Horsey

In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was 22 and working as a pharmacist at Beckenham, Kent. We were quite near the seat of action. We saw lots of planes overhead. They used to come over at the same time of day. The planes were heading for Luton or Vauxhall.
When my employer retired I took over the business. I thought I was too young. I was married by then. We talked it over and took it on.
People used to come to a little pop hole in a porch with their prescriptions next to the shop. We used to have to make their pills and their ointments from scratch. There were shortages. If we didn't have things in stock people would ask if it would be ready the next day. We just didn't know. If the right ingredients didn't come in we couldn't make their ointments for them.
If we had any spare time - and we didn't have much of that! - we would make our own make-up from what we had in the shop. You couldn't tell what shade it was going to end up. Sometimes it was too dark, sometimes too light. We weren't short of paper. We always seemed to have enough."
Kent

Irene Sanders

Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I spent a lot of the war on Salisbury Plain. I was a VAD (The Voluntary Aid Detachment was founded in 1909 with the help of the Red Cross and the Order of St. John and provided auxiliary nursing services mostly in hospitals in this country and occasionally abroad).
I worked in one of the huts. A specially made hospital had been set up there. Those coming back from the war sometimes came there but more often service men who had suffered accidents in this country. We had Despatch Riders who were injured when they came off their bikes or people who had crashed their planes or had other accidents here while serving. I worked on the wards but caught a bug that produced large abcesses under both arms and I had to be taken off the wards. I didn't have a cooking certificate so I was shifted to the canteen to cook for 100 staff. Two of us cooked 100 meals at a time. I remember a horrible thing happening to one girl. We were making scrambled egg in a double saucepan. It had boiled dry and when she tried to separate them it all blew up in her face and she was badly burned.
We had rationing. We were very short of everything. We were only allowed an ounce of butter - a very very little bit. We really didn't see any fruit because a lot of it had been imported.
My husband was serving in the navy. I remember when my son was born in a London Hospital, the day after a bombing raid. All of the windows had been blown out and they had replaced them with cellophane because they had been broken so many times. I remember seeing people going into the underground to shelter from the bombing raids.
I wanted to go on and do a dietetics course so I moved to Glasgow but then my husband came home. He had been at sea a long time. We moved to Plymouth after the worst of the boming there that had flattened the middle part. We managed to get a flat in a Doctor's house. It had been the house for the agent to Lord Morley before the war but then the Doctors took it on and they moved into part of the house and the rest became flats.
I remember my son's excitement when naval friends who had come back from the Bahamas smuggled in a few bananas and gave him one. He had never seen one before. Sometimes pilots managed to bring back a few luxuries."
Salisbury Plain

Eleanor Clive-Powell
Interviewed and Leigh Old Vicarage Care Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born into a farming family at Pulham, Dorset. I was a weekly border at Lord Digby's Grammar School for Girls. The boarding house was at the bottom of the Avenue. We used to pool our coupons at the Boarding House and use them to buy blouses and gymslips. We used to share everything. We all knitted for the war effort. We had to go to a shop in the town or a stall to collect the wool if we were knitting for the forces. We knitted pullovers, socks and balaclavas. We quite enjoyed knitting for the forces. I was at the Boarding House when we had the only bombing raid of Sherborne in September 1940. We had finished school and returned to the boarding house to change out of our white blouses and gymslips and put on our casual clotes. We were changing for tea. It was about 5.30pm. The boarding house was a three storey building. Our Headteacher Miss Billinger lived next door. When the siren went we had to go down into the basement. We didn't know what was happening but we heard the noise. There was a shelter built under the shoe racks. When the All Clear went we were allowed up to the ground floor. Lots of the girls were very frightened. There was a big crack right through the walls and our Headmistress was quite badly hurt. My father was a farmer at Pulham. He was going through Sherborne to Trent when the bombing raid started on his way to see some cattle. He tried to get into the town to find out if I was alright. He didn't know at that time but he was stopped. They wanted up to wait where we were until they had recorded everybody's name, find out who was missing or injured. At last he was allowed in. There were dead and injured horses in the street and some people had been killed and a lot injured. When they had finished recording I was allowed to go home. Our first look at the town was awful. There was so much damage. A few days later the boarding pupils were billeted out around the town as our boarding house wasn't safe. Four of us were billeted with our music teacher. "
Pulham, Dorset

Dennis and Grace Fudge celebrate their Diamond Wedding at Leigh. Grace Fudge

Grace and Dennis Fudge's wartime romance blossomed and they married at Pulham Church in March 1948.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"When I left school I went to work in Dorchester in a bank. I was taking the place of a man who had been called up. I was on the counter and I also had to do firewatching for the bank. Every night we had to go home and pack a meal for the next day and had to go on watch and report any German planes that came over. We saw quite a lot. They came along the coast and then turned inland across Dorchester, often on their way to Yeovil and Bristol. It frightened us to death!"
Dorchester, Dorset

Dennis and Grace Fudge celebrate their Diamond Wedding at Leigh. Grace Fudge

Grace and Dennis Fudge's wartime romance blossomed and they married at Pulham Church in March 1948.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"At home on the farm we didn't know much about the war. Mother made butter and we had our ration of cheese and grew our own vegetables. Sometimes they would fiddle the meat ration in exchange for some fuel! Coloured fuel was for business use only. My future father in law was a baker so he had coloured fuel. When my future husband, Dennis, came to see me he would drive from Leigh to Pulham in the van. One night while crossing Lydlinch Common a Policeman stepped out from behind a bush and stopped him and of course found coloured petrol. It went to court and he was fined £2! - a lot of money."
Pulham, Dorset

Dennis and Grace Fudge celebrate their Diamond Wedding at Leigh. Grace Fudge

Grace and Dennis Fudge's wartime romance blossomed and they married at Pulham Church in March 1948.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
1939 - 1945

"I was away at school, Nottingham High School, and we moved to Ramsdale Park, which was someone's home. We went and occupied it. It wasn't like school at all. We had a lovely time. It was very different from where my sister and I had lived in the town. My parents came to see us in a taxi; there weren't many cars and petrol was rationed. Rationing meant less butter - tiny bits of everything! Sugar was rationed. I didn't eat many sweets so I didn't miss them. I remember the blackout. All the lights were out and we had to make sure no light showed. I remember the air raids too. Mother used to turn clothes to make new ones, cut some down for us and make us new ones. We used to knit too. Stripey jumbers were popular We lived over a bank. Father worked there. Mother used to say we were caretakers.
I remember lots of vegetable gardens and when the war was over there were celebrations and street parties everywhere"
Nottingham

Joan Hyde

Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was in London for the whole of the war. I lived four miles away near Wandsworth Common. I was a secretary . When my boss was called up - he was too young to be exempt - I ran the whole office. The business was Douglas Pectin, a subsidiary of the Grape Nut Company. We were importers of pectin. I used to go up to London on the tube - when it was working. Sometimes I had to hitch a lift on the back of a lorry. I have sat on the back on a pile of vegetables! You just didn't think about having a day off. I was supposed to start work at 8.30 but rarely got there on time and it was often 9pm before I got home. There were pot holes and bomb craters in the roads and piles of rubble. Transport often broke down and we had to walk and sometimes when the sirens went and you were on an underground train they stopped too and you had to get off and walk between the rails to the next station!
Every night at home the bombers would come over Wandsworth Common. You could time them. Mother and Father used to go to the shelter but I used to stay with the Warden. The planes used to go over Wandsworth Common and Balham into the city - night after night after night. I used to see them bringing people out of the rubble in the morning. We all did what we could."
London

Joy Sinnott

Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born 11th November 1928, Remembrance Day, so I was called Poppy.
I remember queuing for bananas and oranges. We used to turn worn out sheets sides to the middle to give them a new lease of life. Wedding dresses were made from parachute silk if you were lucky enough to get some.
Lots of rabbit meat was eaten and rabbits were bred especially for this purpose. Butter was rationed so we used to put jam on first and butter on top to make it go further. Rosehips were gathered for vitamin C. We got extra rations of preserving sugar to make jam. Children were allowed orange juice and cod liver oil. There was quite a good exchange system working - the Black Market!
We ate all of the pig - there were bath chaps, brawn, brain, tripe and chitterlings!
I remember dried egg, dried milk and mock cream. There was chicory and dandelion coffee. There was a shortage of kilner jars - we used candle wax to seal the jars. Candles were sold by the pound weight.
I remember red petrol and cars being stopped to check what was in the tank. Slits were fitted to the headlights to restrict the amount of light showing and of course everyone had blackout curtains.
A lot of flax was grown for soldiers uniforms.
Newspapers were rationed to half of their usual size to save paper.
I remember saving 18 coupons for a coat, 12 for a dress, 2 for stockings and 7 for shoes."
Weymouth, Dorset

Poppy and friends raising money during the war. Poppy Butcher

Poppy sharing her wartime collection at a Make do and Mend event.
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I lived in Outer London, at Thornton Heath, when war broke out. We had had the phoney war and then war broke out on 3rd September. My mother had had another baby in the Spring and on the 4th we were evacuated to Brighton. I always thought it was a strange place to be evacuated to - looking over the English Channel when planes were coming over. We had a lovely Victorian villa type house and shared it with another evacuated family - a mum and baby. I loved it there. We spent most of the war there - 3 1/2 years. At first it didn't seem necessary but eventually we heard that our house in London had been badly damaged in a bombing raid so we had to stay until it was repaired.
I remember seeing tiny boats out to sea and we climbed to Devil's Dyke and saw the small boats coming back from the evacuation of Dunkirk. I shall always remember it.
I went to school locally. I used to have 6d a week pocket money and used to go into the antique shops and buy little bits of china. Father was away - he was sent to Portsmouth on war work.
When our house was repaired we returned to London - just in time for the doodle bugs and the V2 rockets! They were really frightening. I remember the ack-ack guns too.
I don't ever remember being hungry or being short of anything. I think our parents hid those things from us and deprived themselves of their rations to give us the things we needed. I never wanted to live in London again and have always lived in the country."
Thornton Heath, London

Wendy Bray

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