Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Len Batten died at Horfield, Bristol in June and was born in Bristol. During the Second World War he recalled being evacuated to Westward Ho! Near Bideford in North Devon and kept in touch and continued to visit the family for the rest of his life. He had a passion for cooking and sailed on naval mine sweepers followed by a career in the merchant navy where he sailed on banana boats. His favourite dishes included making pasties, faggots and bread pudding."
Devon

Len Batten

Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"Eva Bartlett of Bath recalls not only milk being delivered in bottles but, during the war, in cartons to the Bristol Aircraft Factory and feels many people will not think cartons were introduced at such an early date."
Bristol

Eva Bartlett

Everyday Life
North West
North East
Midlands
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"It was announced on 9th August 2011 that Nancy Wake has died in London aged 98 on Sunday 5th. The Second World War French Resistance heroine was called 'The White Mouse' by the Gestapo for her elusiveness and several site readers have asked that she should be added to 'Make do and Mend'. Her name became a household word after the war and her exploits were retold across many kitchen tables. She became the most decorated servicewoman. She was trained by British Intelligence in espionage and sabotage and helped arm and lead 7000 resistance fighters having left Australia in 1935 with the help of her Aunt's legacy and arrive in London where she trained as a journalist.
Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia and was quickly recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who were keen to have French-speaking women to act as couriers. She was also a very good shot. In April 1944 she was dropped by parachute into the Auvergne region along with Major John Farmer, leader of the Freelance resistance circuit. She worked in Parish and saw first hand the work of the Nazis. She married wealthy industrialist Henri Fiocca but when he was called up for war service she enrolled as an ambulance driver and began helping British soldiers to escape from France. The Gestapo were hot on her trail in May 1943 and she escaped from France to Spain with Henri promising to follow her. However he was picked up by the Gestapo and shot, for which she blamed herself. After the liberation of France Nancy Wake returned to London where she was awarded the George Medal. The French awarded her three Croix de Guerre and the Medaille de la Resistance and later, made her Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. The Americans awarded her the Medal of Freedom. Her autobiography was published in 1985 and was followed by a TV drama. In 2004 she was made a Companion of the Order of Australia and latterly lived in the Star and Garter home for ex-servicemen and women in Richmond, Surrey."
UK

Nancy Wake

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

"Dorothy Wise is the granddaughter of William Ingram who was Headmaster of Sherborne, Abbey School, Dorset. Her mother, Eva Ingram was the second of his six children and was born in Sherborne in 1880. William Ingram was said to be a man of vision who inspired and developed education in North Dorset and his daughter Eva was said to be a born teacher. Eva attended Lord Digby's School in the town and in her spare time assisted at her father's school in the Infants Department, where she spent a year as a pupil teacher at the age of 18 and taught until she was fully occupied with her own young family, Dorothy being the youngest. In the 1930s Eva decided it was time to start her own school and her search took them to Chandlers Ford, Hampshire. A large house was found to rent and the name chosen – 'Sherborne House' school. The school still exists today and has a web site. Dorothy was there during the outbreak of war and Chapter three of her book 'Sherborne House School' is devoted to the school in the war years.
Dorothy recalls no one was actually frightened when war was declared. They already knew about air raids and the threat of gas. When the children returned to school Dorothy and her sister organised games wearing the gas masks and practice air-raid procedures were regularly practiced. Nothing at all actually happened 'Nothing at all happened on the home front. It was just a time of waiting, and wondering when the storm would break.' Almost immediately the school had a sudden influx of pupils as some families decided to move outside of Southampton. Fathers were called up and mothers found they no longer had the domestic help they had been used to and could not cope so decided to send their children away to school.
'The first winter went by without food rationing' and by the following June some parents were asking for the school to be evacuated to a safer location. 'The south coast ports were full of exhausted soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk'. The decision was taken to accept an invitation from a family friend to evacuate to the then Girls Boarding School, Blackdown School at Wellington, Somerset. The move was planned for the following Saturday!"
Sherborne, Dorset

Dorothy Wise

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Her mother, Eva Wise, went to inspect the new school premises offered in Somerset. However she had a traumatic journey home but eventually the 60 year old arrived back, none the worse for her experiences.
Apparently between Taunton and Salisbury her train was left in a siding to allow troop trains to pass. The blackout was in force so there was no glimmer of light. Eventually the train was allowed on its journey but she knew she had missed her connection and continued on into Southampton where she decided to walk seven miles on foot in total darkness! On her journey she was frequently stopped and questioned. Then the air raid sirens sounded and she was ordered by a warden into a public shelter. Soldiers were guarding all the roads and she had to convince them that she was not a German spy! Eventually she arrived home at 2am. During the next three days everything that was practical to take with them was packed. A coach was hired for the children and a small lorry to transport everything else. It rained near Wincanton and their picnic lunch was enjoyed in a barn. Eventually they reached their new premises Blackdown School was sighted. They had arrived."
Somerset

Dorothy Wise

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

"Life at Blackdown School was very peaceful. 'food was still plentiful and we certainly had plenty of eggs and milk but rationing had started.' However she adds after a few weeks in the countryside and regular country walks the children developed enormous appetites! The enemy was not far away for while the children slept Dorothy and her sister attempted to behind closed curtains but they could hear the drone of German bombers on their way to Bristol, Wales and the Midlands. Finally as invasion seemed less likely the decision was taken to return to Chandler’s Ford amidst fears that their house would be commandeered by the army if it remained empty for too long.
Dog fights were common in the skies overhead and although pupil numbers were down on return they soon went up as people moved out of Southampton. The blackout was in force and all village and town name signs and signposts had been removed. Gas masks had to be carried to school. Dorothy trained as a Fire guard instructor. German planes flew overhead at night and nights were extremely noisy. There was also the roar of anti-aircraft guns, several being located close to Chandler’s Ford and shrapnel would fall. During the winter of 1940 – 41 raids increased on Southampton and the city centre lay in ruins. Every evening people would leave the city for safety in the surrounding area and the school often gave shelter to strangers who were passing by. In 1944 and 1945 Dorothy spent her summer holidays working in the harvest fields. She was a keen rider and used to horses so the giant Shires posed no problem at all and she was pleased to assist with stoking sheaves of corn, horse-raking the fields and working on the ricks ‘ we became more aware of the need to grown as much food as possible’. Occasionally they would see a German plane fly over the fields when they were hard at work.
The doodle-bugs were the most frightening thing they experienced and Dorothy recalls Chandler's Ford being one of the furthest places west that was affected by them, one falling near Kingsway and one in Pine Road, killing several people and completely blowing out the windows of the school.
In the summer of 1944 there was great activity. Chandler's Ford was quite wooded and hundreds of amphibious vehicles were parked under the trees on both sides of the road, completely invisible from above – and then suddenly before 6th June they were suddenly gone. Invasion was underway. Convoys of soldiers passed through and were often parked outside the school gates – and lorries of ammunition! Americans were generous with sweets and chocolate – treats unknown for so long. May 8th 1945 arrived and news of Victory in Europe so the children who were just arriving were sent home as a holiday had been declared. Only the older pupils could remember a time when there hadn’t been a war.’"
Somerset and Southampton

Dorothy Wise

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Many contributors recall the changes to their villages and towns in wartime – the many troops that arrived and were billeted in camps or in empty houses in the village and the camps that rapidly grew up in some areas as well as large houses being taken over for military operations or as recovery homes for wounded servicemen or hospitals. Many have recalled the Coldharbour Naval Hospital at Sherborne and others the Portland Hospital which has its own underground operating theatre and recovery ward which can still be seen. Haydon Camp on the outskirts of Sherborne, situated within Sherborne Castle Grounds and its historic deer park, has also been recalled. The camp had its own hospital and wards and after the war became home to a large number of Polish refugees until the mid 1950s when most had been rehomed both in the locality and further afield."
Sherborne, Dorset

Hospitals

Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"We did what we were told. We didn't question anything. The work was hard. At harvest time we would be out on the fields at 5am and we worked on until 10 or 11pm if you could still see. We had to get the crops in. We knew we couldn't afford to waste anything. I believe if we hadn’t the country would really have starved. One day we were all out in the fields when we saw this strange thing with flames coming out of it. We didn’t know what it was. We saw it coming down and later learnt it was the first Doodlebug that landed Wimbledon way."
London

Eva Light
Recalls her wartime years near London in the Women's Land Army.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Several contributors recalled, as did Mr Antell, whose wartime childhood was spent at Puddletown, Dorset that soon after war broke out the Government declared that school holidays would be cancelled. Emphasis during what would have been holidays was on fun and games as well as reading. Trenches were dug around many school grounds, although at Thornford, three miles west of Sherborne where the playing field was too far away from the school and there were no grounds, the children would retreat to the basement of the adjoining Thornford House when the siren sounded. The loss of many good teachers who were called up saddened many pupils. Mr Antell recalled that at Hardye's School in Dorchester the sixth form boys were given ten days off at Christmas to help the Royal Mail with the Christmas postal deliveries. However a fortnights holiday was granted for such essential harvest jobs such as potato picking."
Dorset

School Holidays

In The Home
Everyday Life
Midlands
South West
1939 - 1945

"Friends of the late Helen Margaret Godsell Twitchett would like her name recorded in the Make do and Mend Project. Peggy died in June 2011 aged 101. Miss Twitchett was born in Gloucester and only moved away for a short period. For many years she worked at the former Holloway’s clothing factory in Brick Row, Stroud where she worked as the telephone switchboard operator including the first year of the Second World War. Then she left to work at Stroud Railway Station where she was employed as Goods Clerk. During the war her first boyfriend, a sailor, was killed and Peggy never married, remaining as Goods Clerk for 29 years before retiring. Peggy moved in to live with her Gran on Stroud's Paganhill Estate which had just been completed by the war and remained there for 70 years until she was 98."
Gloucester

Peggy Twitchett

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