Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I remember double summertime. One day when I was walking with my mother in a lane near Burnham Beeches on Farnham Common we were in sight of Windsor Castle. I can still clearly see all of the chimneys on the side of the lane. I am not sure what they were but was told it was something to do with the war"
[we believe they burnt oil to create a distracting smokescreen]"
Farnham Common, Slough

Marguerite found two wartime booklets - the Protection of Your Home against Air Raids and Your Food in War-time. Marguerite k Marguerite Backhouse
A talented artist who now lives at Glanvilles Wootton, Dorset not surprising recalls, colours and scenes during her wartime schooldays that took her across the country.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1938 - 1945

"We were bombed out and moved to Bristol during the war. I remember the air raids and the bombs falling. There were Morrision shelters -a steel construction 6 x 4 with a mesh type grid around. I remember hiding under the stairs with my mother. Fortunately we were in the shelter when the house was hit. The ceilings came down and there was dust everywhere. Then we moved to relatives at Westbury on Trim. In 1943/4. I remember the sound of the air raid sirens raised the hair on the back of my neck. I recall barrage balloons and the arc of searchlights. Father was in the LCC and would be on Fire Duty at County Hall. He was a member of the Magic Circle and a ventriloquist and had Punch and Judy dolls. After the war the house was patched up. I can remember the workmen. People got grants to repair war damage after a survey. The blown out windows were taken away and the doors didn't fit. We kept chicken, two ducks and I remember we used to swap food coupons. Word used to get around when bananas had arrived at the greengrocers. There used to be broken biscuits at the front of the shop counter. Money was scarce. I remember soap came in large blocks. Soap was rubbed on our hair instead of shampoo. There was a gridded container to put used bits of soap in that was then circulated in water to make washing up liquid. Sheets were turned sides to the middle. We never threw anything away.

I remember an incendiary bomb coming through our roof - right into my mother's bedroom. We had a brown haircord carpet and it burnt a hole through it and continued to burn as it went down through the floor."
Sutton, Surrey and Bristol

Malcolm Saunders
was born at Sutton, Surrey in 1938
In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I don't remember a lot about wartime shortages because I was still at Cambridge. My family home was at Birkenhead where there was some bombing. We were staying at the family holiday house outside of Holyhead when war broke out four or five days later. I remember the evacuees arrived from LIverpool - three children were sent to our house. Some evacuees didn't stay long. Our holiday house was large and slept 15. It had been requisitioned as a Recovery Hospital in World War I and the same thing happened again in the Second War. I remember Mother and an Aunt went down after the war to arrange for everything to be put right. I was not aware of any shortages."
South East

Hibbert Binney

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born in Sherborne but my father took the farm at Henstridge that is now the aerodrome. I went to school in Henstridge. I was a cow boy. I had to milk by hand ten cows before school and ten cows afterwards. During the war we had to get cards to exempt us from school. It was child labour really. I was 9 - 10 years old. I became a full time tractor driver at about 11 or 12. We were allocated with a plough and so many acres to plough up. I remember Mr Louch of Henstridge came round and told us how much land had to be ploughed. I remember the farmer over the road had an incendiary bomb land in his hay rick and was killed when he went to move it.
Then the Fleet Air Arm came and my father was given just six weeks notice to move out. Our farm was to become an aerodrome. While we were at Henstridge I remember the evacuees came from London and Southampton. A lorry went over the parapet of the bridge one day and landed on a troop train.
A cattle truck came off the railway track one night. We went out with torches to help and wondered if we would be bombed. Later on I remember two planes got stuck in the runways - they had not been made thick enough!
My father managed to find another farm to go to at Bruton so I wasn't at Henstridge when Sherborne was bombed. I heard about the raid. At Henstridge we often had bombers going over us on their way to Bristol. I remember a pinnacle at King Alfred's Tower was knocked off by a German plane. It lay on the ground for years. People below were killed and all at one farm.
At Childs Farm we had 10 - 12 in the house. - a cousin from Bristol, Grandparents and a lodger.
My brother was in the Home Guard. Father used to go up the church tower fire watching. At Henstridge we had a searchlight battery in Lancher Lane.
I was near Bruton when peace was declared. Times were hard during the war. I remember we had coloured fuel and had to have ration coupons for fuel for stationary engines, tractors and all equipment."
Sherborne, Dorset and Bruton, Somerset

Jim Adams
was born in Sherborne, Dorset but spent the early war years at Henstridge, Somerset on the family farm. Jim is now a resident of St Johns Almshouse close to Sherborne Abbey.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
1939 - 1945

"I was in the Land Army and had to travel from Devon to Birmingham. I remember we didn't have any cups, we couldn't get cups so tea was served in jam jars! While I was in the Land Army I was sent to Coventry and was there when the blitz of Coventry happened. I remember the landmines and bombs that fell on the estate we were working on. My inlaws lived in Solihull. We couldn't get through the roads. I had to go through someones garden and out the back of their house pulling and lifting my bicycle with me to get through to get home.
I was sent to train to work with the decoders - you know Alan Turin and the Enigma Code. We were taking down signals. We took them down - we didn't decode them. I was sent to Bow Manor Loughborough to train. We had to be very accurate. There were lots of us on these little radio sets listening. All these men had different sending techniques. They changed their frequencies quite often. We had to turn our dials until we picked up the new frequencies. I remember the great comradeship of that time. We kept in touch for years and years. I had to go to London to take tests to do this work. We were sent a morse type signal and then another and had to decide whether it was sent by the same person or not. We were taught to listen for any similarities and had to mark the test messages with a tick or a cross. It took nine months to train us and during that time I was sent to Trowbridge and also Douglas on the Isle of Man. We had to pass the Royal Signals Test B2 before we could do the work. When the Invasion started we sometimes picked up some very sad messages like 'please tell my mother we did our best'. These were from young men, no more than boys, just like ours. It made us think we were all the same. Some were very sad. They knew they weren't coming home. My husband and I retired to Gillingham, Dorset and then I was in a British Legion Home at Taunton before coming to the Almshouse here in Sherborne where I am very happy. It is a lovely place."
Birmingham

Noel Leadbeater
Grew up in a suburb of Birmingham and is now a resident of St Johns Almshouse, Sherborne.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
1939 - 1945

"I was teaching at Bovington Camp, Dorset. It was my first teaching job at the Castle School on the camp. We had a lot of army children who had moved around a lot by the time they were 11 years of age. They had a lot of knowledge of travelling. I remember the military band and splendid dances. That was how I met my future husband who came from St Albans - at a dance in Dorchester. I was a country lass so when he took me to a pub I thought I had better ask for a whisky and lime! He nearly fell over! My future husband was in the REME - a mechanic. I can't remember being particularly short of anything. I didn't think we were deprived. I lodged in a farmhouse - a country atmosphere. I was very fortunate really. It was nice to be back in Dorset where I was born. My father in law to be was a Headmaster in St Albans so I got a job there and my husband took part in the emergency training scheme for teachers after the war and taught for many years."
Bovington Camp, Dorset

Phyllis Pereira

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

"I was born Lucy Evans, one of 11 children. My father was in the Dorset Yeomanry and retired at 55 and came back to Sherborne where he became a member of the Kings School maintenance team. We lived at Coombe but my mother was completely worn out and died at the age of 51. I was sent to an orphanage at Salisbury from the age of 7 until I was 17. It was a Catholic one and you would never believe how cruel those nuns were to us. I was there at the start of the war. We never had a bombing raid. They used to say it was because of the spire on the cathedral - they were told not to bomb it. I was glad to join the Land Army. I went to a private farm at Wareham where I had to milk the cows but then I caught an infection and I wasn't allowed to milk any longer. I was sent to Mere in Wiltshire to work in a gang. When I came out I went into nursing at Salisbury and then Odstock Hospital and then on to St Thomas's in London. We decided to go out carol singing one Christmas. It was still the blackout and we couldn't see to read our carol sheets so we still stood under the lamp posts although they were not lit and sung the verses of the most popular carols that we could remember. As we finished we started to hear people calling out from the darkness thanking us. It cheered a lot of people up. I especially remember sugar and butter being rationed."
South West

Lucy Goldsworthy

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was a 17 year old pupil at Sherborne School in September 1940. On the afternoon of the bombing raid I was seated at my desk in one of the ground floor classrooms on the North side of the Courts, attending (coincidentally!) a German class given by Henry Howard-Baker, when there was a sudden distant rumble which grew rapidly louder. "I think we had better get under our desks" said he, and we did so, as the explosions erupted deafeningly and the windows fell in amid a shower of stones and grit.
The Headmaster, Alexander Ross-Wallace, was on the scene at once and we were directed to return to our boarding houses - in my case Harper House in Hound Street. There were several large craters in the Courts, and as we walked back across Cheap Street we could see considerable damage in the area of Newcombes and Coombs bakery and cafe. Apart from broken windows there was miraculously little damage to Harper House and the directive to get on with our education was followed (by candlelight). During the following days our spare time was devoted to helping local householders to clear up damage, but I don't think any of us realised quite what a mess the raid had made of the town until some days later.
The most remarkable thing was that although over three hundred bombs were dropped and there were many casualties and considerable damage in the town, both the Abbey and the School were virtually untouched. As my Housemaster was always getting stick for showing lights after blackout in one or other of the many windows in the rambling buildings, I think it was lucky that the raid was in daylight or he might have been lynched!"
Sherborne, Dorset

Lt. Col. David Russell
of Sherborne recalled the Sherborne bombing raid.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Thatching was a reserved occupation but I became a member of the Home Guard. In summer it was difficult to keep going as there were lots of ricks to thatch - first the hay ricks and then the corn ricks and we were often out all night on watch with the Home Guard. It was made more difficult in the war because farmers were not allowed to build more than two ricks within 20 yards of each other because of the fire risk so instead of lots of ricks being made in rick bartons they were made in all corners of the fields and we had to take everything out to them - this used up our petrol ration too. Our spars used to come from all sorts of small copses and when a lot of land was ploughed up for the war effort so were the tracks and we couldn't get to some copses to cut the hazel. We used a lot of willow spars instead down by the river."
Thornford, Dorset

Simon Garrett
recalled in his memoirs
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
North East
1939 - 1945

"I was a war baby so I can't remember a lot about the war. My Mum told me I was born at seven months so was quite premature but she was only allowed to stay at the hospital for a few days because it was being taken over by the army. There weren't any incubators or any of the things they have now for premature babies so I am lucky to be here. I was born at Hull and it was bombed a lot. I spent the first fortnight after coming home in the air raid shelter as it was safer. Then my older brothers and sisters caught either measles or chicken pox and they were so afraid I would catch it too so we were kept apart. We were bombed out four times. My father was out on fire watch and once when he had only just got it he was so tired he wouldn't come down to the shelter with the rest of the family. He insisted on staying in the house. We heard the bombs dropping. The daughter of the woman next door was killed and the blast threw father out of the house through the door. Luckily he survived. The house wasn't habitable so we were re-homed. We were in a row of cottages down a long alleyway. There were no services - no electric or running water. I had to go and get the water with my sister from the pump a long way away and we had to keep going backwards and forwards to get enough - especially on Mondays because that was washing day. I must say I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Everyone was so friendly and we all helped each other. I also remember at the end of the war and afterwards we children used to get paid to go out into the fields pea picking, bean picking, potato picking and we were all allowed hooks to cut down sprout stalks and other greens. You wouldn't be allowed to do it today but I don't remember anyone getting hurt. I used to love it and of course we earned a little pocket money. My husband Colin's family had a different war. His mother came from Yorkshire but she married a Londoner and they lived in Deal when the doodlebugs came over. He will tell you all about it."
Hull

Stella Powell
nee Coultas. Stella, who now lives in Dorset, plans to record more of her memories over the next few weeks.

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