Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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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.
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1941

"I remember a single bomb dropping in Bradford Road, Sherborne. That would have been in 1940 or 1941. It was before the Sherborne bombing raid. It left quite a crater. I went up to have a look at it. I went out to work during the war. Ours was a poor family so I started work at 14 in short trousers. I was at the Glove Factory in Newland. There was a direct hit right next to it. An old lady and a dog were killed but the man escaped with just a scratch to his forehead. I remember they hid under a lead lined large bacon trough, the heaviest thing they could find. There were over 60 of us working at the glove factory. Next door was Miss Ireland's sweet shop. Mr Stickland got blown straight out of his back door with the blast but survived. I remember another occasion looking out of our back bedroom window. The siren often used to go at 6am and 6pm so we were used to it. I saw a plane on fire. It crashed somewhere near Poyntington. I remember seeing tracer bullets. Mum had some of us children staying at different places in the town we were so overcrowded so we were one of the first families to get moved into the new houses in the north of the town. We got 34 Simons Road but the road hadn't been finished because of the war. We didn't have a finished road for a long time and no pavement but it was a lot better than we had been used to."
Sherborne, Dorset

Roland Smith
was in Sherborne, Dorset during the war.
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

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1941

"I was 11 years old in 1940 and my brother, Cyril, was 13. We lived with our parents at No 13 Horsecastles - our grandparents lived at No 17. As the siren had sounded on September 30th I was indoors playing 'patience'. My brother was in the garden, probably feeding our pet rabbit and guinea pig - but he managed to rush indoors - through the glass-roofed scullery to join my mother and me under the kitchen table.
I remember the boise, the shattering of glass, and the choking dust which seemed to go on for ages, though I am told it was a mere 3 1/2 minutes! I remember Cyril crwaling out at some stage to prevent a wooden door falling across us. The nearest bomb was in the garden of No 15 - quite close enough!
When things had quietened down my brother made his way up to No 17 to check on our grandmother. He found her safe, but shocked, hiding behind the door of her downstairs bedroom. Our grandfather was at Sturminster Newton helping the auctioneers 'Senior and Godwin' at the weekly market. Our grandparents stayed for several weeks with the Headmaster and his wife, Mr and Mrs Avery at the Abbey School.
Our father was working as a threshing machinist somewhere in the locality - and when he got back to Sherborne the police tried to stop him going down Horsecastles because of the debris of slates, electricity wires, glass and so on but he said "my family is down there" so they let him pass.
We stayed with Dad's sister in Kings Road for a week or some - some nights spent in their Anderson Shelter in the garden in case it should all happen again. Eventually Dad found us some accomodation in part of a farmhouse with Mr Casely at Adber - and because we had a safe place to stay the workmen used our house to store their equipment and have their 'canteen' while repairing all the houses in the row. I remember going up to the attic, which was my bedroom, and being able to see daylight through the lath and plaster ceiling.
We enjoyed living on the farm and cycling into Sherborne to school. Cyril learnt to milk cows, drive a tractor and we rode the car horses and cut wedges of hay from the hat-ricks to feed the stock.
The farm was sold in March 1941, so we moved again, to share some rooms with Mr Casely's son Leslie and his family in Trent for some weeks - so it must have been Spring or Summer 1941 before we moved back into our repaired house in Horsecastles."
Sherborne, Dorset

June Helson
nee Pike of Sherborne enjoyed her Bombing Memories afternoon at the museum on 30th September, exactly 70 years after the bombing raid on the town. Afterwards she was inspired to put pen to paper and record her memories of that day.
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

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Scotland
Wales
Northern Ireland
North West
North East
Midlands
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"Every household became a miniature munitions dump during Christmas - and the munitions are wanted now for active service. Your munitions comprise all those Christmas cards, letters, boxes, gift wrappings, decorations and crackers. Paper is a munition of war. Every household must see that its accumulation of Christmas paper gets to the enemy in the most effective form. In one envelope there is sufficient paper to make a wad for a bullet. Remember that 3lbs of waste paper makes containers for two anti-aircraft shells. A ton of paper will make, among other things, 9000 shell fuse components. You probably had your weekly joint of meat on Christmas Day. Don't forget that the bone is wanted too. Bones provide glycerine for high explosives as well as glue for binding particular aircraft parts, body filling for camouflage paints, fertiliser for growing food, and feeding meals for cattle and poultry. Scrap metal is also vitally important. Five tons of ferrous metal will provide steel for 8145 anti-aircraft shells."
UK

Wartime Christmas
A newspaper cutting of January 1942 has been sent to us.
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
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the bombing of Bath. Not many people realise how badly it was bombed in April 1942. We hear about Bristol but we suffered terribly. Over 400 people were killed that night and nearly as many houses totally destroyed. Afterwards it was found another 700 were so badly damaged they had to be demolished too. Curator's note - it is said the bombing of Bath came as a direct result of the RAF destroying the medieval city of Lubeck that contained so many timber buildings. More can be found out about the Bombing of Bath in Niall Rothnie's book of that title."
Bath

Kathleen White

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