Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I lived at the little hamlet of Lower Wraxall, Dorset, until I was 18 in 1945. We saw lots of action. I remember a huge air battle and aircraft coming down in flames. It was sad - they were someones sons weren't they?. We were milking cows at the time. We saw men coming out in parachutes. We had a lot of troops in the village and military police after Dunkirk. They went off on their motorbikes to look for the men. I worked with my father on his farm when I left school.
Then I went to Leigh in 1945 when I was 18, milking. That's why I have bad hands. We had to milk 60 cows by hand!
Troops used to live in an old cottage. They used to sing "I fell in love with Mary at the dairy" when we walked by.
We had a huge vegetable garden and got plenty of food that way. I was about 13 or 14 when the war started. We didn't really understand. We thought it was good fun really.
We didn't have evacuees but we did at the village school at Rampisham. There was a family evacuated from Weymouth. Mr Fraser had a plumbing business and he went backwards and forwards every day and there was Digby the fruit wholesalers and he did the same. I remember the troops gathering for D Day and they used to say "Careless talk costs Lives"
We had butter and loads of cheese. We had a cheesemaker and a cheese loft. When you went into the cheese room it was full off lots of truckles of cheese - mostly cheddar but sometimes Dorset Blue Vinny. I can't tell you the recipe. I never touched the stuff myself. No we weren't short really. We had pig meat and plenty of butter.
I could make butter today with a big churn. It was the good old days. You see we had all those troops in the village!"
Lower Wraxall, Dorset

Edith Jessop
nee Hallett
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
In The Home
South East
1939 - 1945

"I remember the shortages. I didn't take sugar fortunately so I didn't miss it! All the fats were rationed and soap. It was lovely to get a tablet of soap. You couldn't get washing powder for love nor money - and oh we were so pleased if we could get some Lux! [ soft soap flakes]. If you did you shared it. You didn't keep it to yourself. There were no dog biscuits or cat food either. You used to queue at the fishmongers to get bits to feed the cats on. I had two cats. Clothes - well it was Make do and Mend. Fortunately we were all handy and made our own clothes. Mother was a seamstress so we always had a good wardrobe. She was always in demand. Stockings - well if we heard someone had some we used to queue for ages to get just one pair. At Soho there were lots of stalls. If a whisper went round that stockings might be coming in we would start to queue and would get one pair if we were lucky. They were lyle or fine cotton. Silk stockings were like gold dust. If anyone came from America with silk stockings they were plagued! The RAF smuggled them in sometimes for us. We unpicked knitted jumpers and pullovers, washed the wool to get the crinkles out and then re-knitted it into something else. Shoes were very hard to get hold of. I don't remember getting a new pair. People used to go round second hand stalls to get footwear. Wellingtons were the most important thing in our wardrobe ! Father was a good gardener. We grew beans, peas and potatoes. We tried everything to supplement our diet. The number of bananas I managed to get during the war you could count on one hand. We grew soft fruit too and we had two plum trees and an apple tree. Most of us shared everything -there were just one or two who didn't. We saved our sugar to make jam but there was never enough but it didn't matter because it never stayed on the shelf too long! I remember the first time we used pectin to make it set better. When the war ended there were lots of celebrations. I remember lots of street parties - we tried to make the most of everything. It wasn't the end of rationing though. It went on for another four years. It actually got worse after the war - not better. Everything was in short supply."
London

Joy Sinnott

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