Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Sherborne Bombing 70 Years On


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Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
North East
1939 - 1945

"I was one of 11 - the third youngest. We lived 12 miles from Sheffield. Father worked in the colliery. It was near the tank factory. We were used to hearing planes going over and shrapnel coming down. We used to pick it up in the morning. One sister was in the ATS and she was often coming home when there was an air raid in progress. I remember walking down to the air raid shelter. We used one of the old mining shafts and stayed there all night not coming out until morning. We had to go to the pump station. I just remember hearing the bombs whistling overhead. I went to a Church of England Primary School. The tanks often went rumbling past the school because the tank factory, Newton Chamgers HQ, was closeby. One bomb fell in the garden where my husband lived. His sister went out to have a look and got burnt. He worked in the steel works and lived in back to back colliery cottages built in 16s all in rows. When one of the babies was born the midwife said "this bairn can't stay here" and they went to live on a farm. The farmer grew swedes, turnips and potatoes and if you went potato picking you came home with a free bucket of potatoes at the end of the day which was very useful."
South Yorkshire

Patricia Ibbotson
came from South Yorkshire and now lives in Dorset.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Val now lives in Yetminster, Dorset but spent her war years in her home town of Southampton
"Father, Albert Victor Sherlock, served in the First World War and his lungs were damaged. I was five when the Second World War ended and ten when he died. He was too ill to serve in the Second War and used to drive for ENSA. His day job was a postman. I remember burning Potters for his breathing. I remember the Big Push in Southampton. The roads were lined with tanks. Troops lived in the road ouside our house. I remember sitting on the pavement and watching them. I remember skipping along with my friend May and the troops would throw us down sweets. The operation was delayed from the 5th to the 6th so they were there an extra 24 hours.
My brother, now 84, was in the navy. He had wanted to be a pilot but he was colour blind and was in the Stores at Gosport. Mother in Law was in Havant, Hampshire. He used to say "Are you a bit short of food for your chickens?" The store was packed from floor to ceiling with stale bread! Mother was deaf and didn't hear the sirens. Mrs Thomas next door used to hammer on the wall when they went off and I was lifted out of my cot. If it was too late to get outside we used to shelter under the table. Southampton was badly bombed - I remember it burning on both sides of use but not on our street. I remember the fear when one bomb fell on the corner of the road where we lived.
I remember standing on the sidebard looking out for father. He took me on one of the entertainment evenings.
Mother and my Aunt decided we should evacuate to Salisbury - but we only stayed one night!"
Southampton.Hampshire

Val Cookson
nee Sherlock is well known for her troop of Dollywood Dancers, named after her mother Dorothy nee Wood. The dancers entertained at the Wartime tea party at Leigh Old Vicarage when the Make do and Mend Project was launched.
Everyday Life
North West
South East
1939 - 1945

"It never had a bomb dropped on it but I was evacuated to Kirk Sandal in Lancashire. It was part of the Pilkington Glass Works with an estate built around it. Father was moved to Bristol with his work and was bombed there. I had an older sister and she was evacuated to Lincoln. We didn't get evacuated together as she was 11 years older than me. We went to visit my Grandmother in London for her birthday on the 8th of September. We arrived just as planes started bombing the docks in London!"
Lancashire and London

Annette Hallett was interviewed at Crafty Times Memories afternoon. Annette Hallett
grew up in Leeds.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the outbreak of war. Mother, Aunt May and Aunt Joan [mother's two sisters] and my cousins Heather and Cis took Betty, my sister, and I to Weymouth for the day. At about 5pm we got off the train at Yetminster Station and started to walk home up the village. PC Lake, the village constable, told us we were at war with Germany - it had been declared while we were at the seaside. He said we were to go home and put up blackout curtains and we were not allowed to use torches. I remember Mother got home, gave us our tea and then got out the hand sewing machine and made the first blackout curtains from some black material she had in the house. I didn't go to the seaside again until after the war. Barbed wire was put up all along the coast. I remember we had to be taken up to the Church Hall to be fitted with our gas masks. They were in three sizes, small, medium and large. We had to practice putting them on but they used to steam up quickly. If we forgot to take them with us to school we had to go home and get them and hang them on our pegs. We had school drill occasionally in case there was an air raid. We dug a large shelter right of the school yard and if we had to go and shelter there we had to take our gas masks with us.
I remember when the evacuees arrived. They came by train into Yetminster station. Mrs Stone was in charge of the evacuees. She billetted them with suitable homes and tried to keep brothers and sisters together. Their teacher came with them and most of them stayed until the end of the war"
Yetminster, Dorset

Colin King in front of his wartime home Petties Farm, Yetminster. Gardening has been a great part of his life as well as farm Colin King
of Yetminster remembers his wartime schooldays at home in Yetminster.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Sheila Meaden recalled petrol rationing.
"You were only allowed to use the vehicle for work. I remember the blackout shields on the car headlights. They only allowed a tiny amount of light out. All of the signposts had been removed so when we had the horse and cart we just used to drop the reins and the horse knew its way home. If we were going to a dance we used to put a broken piece of harness in the boot so that if we were stopped we could say we were taking it to be repaired!. I remember the barbed wire on the beaches and all the bars at the seaside being closed. We weren't allowed to go in the sea. We were allowed to stay home from school quite a lot for potato picking and similar. I remember once going with grandfather to a village the other side of Sherborne. He was going to sell a cow but before we left he had sold the horse and trap we had travelled in too. I was only small so he went to send a telegram to Yetminster to ask the family to come out to meet us. We couldn't get the telegram through as there had been a raid somewhere and the lines were down. We started to walk home to Yetminster. It was such a long way for me. We got to Bow Bridge on the outskirts of Yetminster and the telegram boy passed us on his bike! We were nearly home by then. I had never walked so far. The trains were blacked out too and the station names removed. It was difficult to find out where you were.
We were very lucky on the farm. We had chickens, eggs, cows, cream and milk. I remember we were only allowed 4 ounces of sugar and 2 ounces of butter a week. Mother used to beat cream into the butter to make it go further. I remember there was no chocolate - only if you knew an American and they brought nylon stockings too.
There were no oranges or lemons and we didn't know what a banana was!"
Yetminster, Dorset

Sheila Meadan
nee Naylor, of Yetminster, Dorset.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
South East
1939 - 1945

"I came from Norfolk. I was up at Oxford when war broke out. We were miles away from the war. Hitler was going to make it his headquarters so the German aircraft were not allowed to bomb it. I finished my finals on the Friday and on the Monday took over my Father's school for six weeks. There were 48 mixed infants there at St Albans. There were quite a lot of air raid warnings. The planes were heading for Hatfield and the aircraft factories. We had a wartime shelter and got used to teaching underground. It was very difficult. We had tilley lamps and no heating and took our own stools down with us. There was one corridor that ran into another, only one small loo and - no food! If parents could not collect their children because the All Clear had not sounded they had to stay with us, often until 6.30pm until it was safe to collect them. It was difficult to keep them amused because we didn't have any books or paper with us so we did spelling tests, times tables and sang songs - anything we knew by heart - I remember Cherry Ripe and Going to Strawberry Fair. As an education it really was a blank. I was very lucky we already knew about Make do and Mend! There was an excellent cook at the Junior School. I was lucky. I avoided hardships that way. When I went to the High School in Nottingham we were very lucky - there were no bombs. The army occupied half of the school. We had to be very economical with paper and re-use every bit. This was while the army was being very lavish!
I do remember at Nottingham I had to go down to town for lunch and all I ever had for lunch was sausages or fish cakes that had been kept warm for hours! We had the odd bomb drop near us because of Hatfield. I remember we had to take evacuees at St Albans and try to get them fitted in - they were always shrieking to go home but they were in a safe place.
I remember rationing. We used to get two pints of milk on a Monday and the milkman used to leave another two pints on a Tuesday for the week. I was new to catering and it gradually got worse. Fresh veg was difficult and there was no fish. We only had meat for two meals a week. There was spam - it looked pink and it tasted pink! We had horse meat and whale meat, powdered milk and powdered egg. Bread and potatoes were rationed too after the war. I remember the Woolton Loaf - it had a lot of potato flour in it because wheat was in short supply. There were no bananas - children didn't know what they were. If you knew a shopkeeper you got extras! - a little something wrapped up and slipped into your shopping bag!
I remember having to cycle six miles to work. I remember boyfriends used to regularly disappear - they got called up. You had just got to know them and then they were gone. Some didn't come back.
Clothes - well it was Make do and Mend. I remember curtains being made into a skirt. Stockings disappeared so we wore ankle socks a lot. I remember I made a jumper once - well it was rather a nice waistcoat really out of 12 cards of mending wool - that wasn't rationed!
Furniture was rationed too! We were rationed for sheets. It was very difficult setting up home. There was a two years wait for a vacuum cleamer. I remember spending a lot of money at a fairground trying to win some saucepans - I didn't though. They were probably stuck down. You just couldn't get new saucepans. A lot of old ones were gathered for the war effort and people got out their old cast iron ones again. They were too heavy for camping stoves.
There was Utility Furniture too - it lasted well and wasn't bad in design - it was vaguely Scandinavian.
Weather during the war wasn't bad - but we weren't allowed to go anywhere! After the war we had some really bad winters. I remember at St Albans seeing the lights in the sky when London was bombed."
Oxford

Vicky Cornford
retired to Yetminster, Dorset and was interviewed at a Memories Tea Party at CraftyTimes Tea Room in the village who hosted the event. Vicky enjoyed her afternoon " I haven't talked about those days for years. It is all coming back to me now!"
Everyday Life
Wales
South West
1939 - 1945

"18 months into the war at the age of 17 I volunteered for the RAF. Mother was upset when I told her. We lived on a small farm at Bembury, Thornford and had everything we needed. We were not short of anything. First of all I was sent to South Wales and then to RAF Locking and finally Bicester where I was running up aeroplane engines. I went home for the day sometimes. The train was blacked out. They used to ring a bell and had a system to let you know where you were. I often got sent back with two dozen eggs in my bag from mother. Some 18 months later they were looking for RAF servicemen to come out and become civilian workers in factories. I was called to the office one day and told it was my turn to go. I was sent to a factory making air screws [ propellers].
I remember the Sherborne air raid [30th September 1940]. I was in Yeovil that day. It was a typical Autumn day - fine but lots of low unbroken cloud. I heard the planes. I think they took fright and lost their sense of direction. I saw the bombs falling on Sherborne soon after 4pm. I went home to Thornford and had tea and then cycled into Sherborne. I had school friends there from Fosters School and I wanted to find out if they were alright. I left my bike at an Aunt's and walked into town. The streets were full of rubble and there was a strong smell of gas. There were some unexploded bombs too and bits of shrapnel all over the place. It was dark by then. I walked round and found my school friend's house in Newland, opposite the Carlton Cinema. It had been bombed but they were unhurt but they had to move out because the house wasn't safe. I was always amazed at how Sherborne sprang back. The rebuilding took quite a while - several years. It could have been much worse. I don't think the bombers knew where they were and were fleeing from our aircraft and dropped their bombs to lighten their load and get away.
Asked about the rumour that Sherborne might have had a secret factory that was their target Mr Mitchell replied "I never heard of a secret factory. I don't think Sherborne was the target for that day's mission. In the RAF I found out my boss had been the Tracker that day and he said he had been unable to muster enough aircraft to mount a proper counter-attack. There were too few serviceable aircraft available."
Thornford, Dorset

Merlin Mitchell
was born at Thornford near Sherborne, Dorset.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Pat Smith brought a tape recorded in 1983 of her mother Mabel Raison, nee Christopher, speaking about the Sherborne bombing raid of 30th September 1940.
"Mabel was living at North End Farm, Melbury Osmond, Dorset. She had been taking tea to Pat's Uncle Ken, who was ploughing in a field called 'Radish' between the farm and the highest point at Princes Place, close to the now main road from Yeovil to Dorchester. "the planes were tight together. They came over our copse and went in the direction of Yeovil - then they suddenly veered to the right. I saw black smoke rising in the distance"

Pat recalled "aluminium went for the war effort. We had to get the iron saucepans out again but we found we had nothing to go on the paraffin cooker. They were too heavy"

Pat also remembered the Italian Prisoner of War Camp close to the main road. "The camp was on the left hand side beyond the Clay Pigeon [cafe]. Until 30 years ago there was a tree close to the road that still had the base of the look out tower in it. It was quite a big camp. The Italians used to be dropped off in a lorry and we had six of them allocated to the farm. Joyce Smith [now living at Evershot] was a nurse at the camp."
"
Melbury Osmond, Dorset

Pat Smith

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the Italian Prisoners of War . Ours [at Yetminster] used to be dropped off in a small coach - two or three to each farm. They used to work at stonepicking, chasing rats as they ran out of the ricks and granary and they also dug out ditches. The camp was at Long Ash Lane. The main road didn't exist before the war beyond Cattistock. It was made up during the war to take the traffic down to Weymouth.
I remember the Sherborne bombing raid too. I was getting off of a train at Yetminster station. The train shook - it was late afternoon - I thought it was coming off the rails. I remember the noise. Our dog disappeared for two days it was so frightened. We later learnt that our saddler was killed in Half Moon Street. He was found under his counter."
Yetminster, Dorset

Sheila Meadan
nee Naylor, of Yetminster, Dorset.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was in London and so was my future wife Violet. Times were much harder in the city than down here in the country [ Norman has lived in Sherborne, Dorset for many years]. We didn't have large gardens, allotments or keep chickens. Violet's family was bombed out twice and then she and her brother were evacuated.
I remember my mother was determined to keep the rations fair. She used to have our 6oz butter ration - 2oz for each of my parents and 2oz for me and divide it accurately each week as soon as she got it so that we all got exactly 2oz each."
London

Norman Gardner

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