Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Sherborne Bombing 70 Years On


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Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"At home father had three allotments at South View - two on one side of the footpath and one on the other - so we grew everything we needed. He was renowned for his onions and he used to sell some. At home we had nails all around Back House as we called it and rabbits were hung there, paunched and all ready for cooking. Father used to work for Wyatt Paul on the farm, although he couldn't drive a tractor. Wyatt Paul owned most of the village in those days. Father was a rick thatcher for them and that was how I became interested but I became an apprentice and went on to become a Master Thatcher. Father used to go rabbiting and ferreting so we used to have rabbit three or four times a week. There were five of us children to feed. We used to have rabbit stew and roast rabbit. If we had anything else - like pork or beef - that was a real surprise. We weren't short of food in the war. I can't remember being really short of anything."
Sherborne, Dorset

Ron Gosney (2nd right) with other older residents of Bradford Abbas at a special village occasion. Ron Gosney
became one of the 'Grand Old Men' of the village in 2009 re-enacting the original gathering in the 1930s when the oldest residents famed for their longevity became film stars! In 2009 those Bradfordians of advancing ages were honoured at a social gathering in the village. Ron became Master Thatcher of the village.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the Sherborne Bombing Raid. I was going out to the hairdressers, Ruth Foster's Mum. I was passing Mrs Grant's house and she called "You had better come in. The barrage balloons have just gone up Yeovil way." I didn't see the damage done in Sherborne. We heard the planes and the bombs but we couldn't get about in wartime so I didn't get to Sherborne ( five miles away) very often. I always remember the start of the war. My Mum was killed on the 24th of August 1939 at the Cross Roads. She had been worried about the coming war and said she didn't want to see her boys go to war. I remember her arm was broken and she had other injuries and later that night my sister Linda came and said Mummy's dead. Mrs Gervis was a nurse, the schoolmaster's wife, and she had come to help. We used to wear black for six months. I remember Gran made us girls black and white check dresses - for four of us. At Yetminster we had an air raid siren at Brister End up by the quarry. Quite a few men from the village used to man it - Dr Stevens was one of them and a man from Ryme came to help. I remember looking forward to going to Sherborne by charabanc every year to Phillips and Andover in Sherborne but it was bombed. We used to pay into a clothing club at the Vicarage - a shilling a week [5p] and at the end of the year we used to enjoy the ride in the charabanc with the roof down if the weather was fine and spending the club money at the store. I remember Harry Saunders was Sexton at Yetminster. He lived in the thatched Sexton's cottage next to the church - it isn't thatched now. His job was to light the lamps in the church and each night he used to go into the church to ring the Curfew Bell. I worked for Dr. Stevens - in service. Mrs Stevens had a canteen in the garage for soldiers. There were lots billeted in Yetminster and it was my job to fry the soldiers breakfasts. Miss Buckler helped and Miss Trubridge - but she was killed at Hendford, Yeovil when her mackintosh got caught in the wheel of her bicycle. Nearly every house in the village had someone. Aunt Kath had an evacuee - a girl and then later another girl. She had such pretty hair she was such a pretty little thing. When the evacuees came they didn't have anything. A lot of them were so poor. We tried to get them things. At our school - we had a boys school at Boyles and a girls school - it was difficult to fit them all in. I remember Ration Books. Mrs Stevens kept all of my food coupons as I was in service there and provided the food. I just had my sweets coupons and clothing coupons. There was a lot of jiggery pokkery going on. They were in with some of these high up people and they didn't go short of anything! We used to see it going on. Ourselves we made do. We knew we couldn't have it and we didn't have the money to buy things either. If you wanted a bigger garment it was more coupons you had to use. I didn't need much clothes. I was in service so I had my uniform. I had my dress and apron and cap - stiff white cuffs and starched cap. Mrs Gould did all of the house washing and Mrs Dean was the Parlour Maid - she was very smart. Lyn my sister was cook. I was allowed out once a week and then had to be in by 10pm. Washing day used to go on all day. We used to have to make a bowl of starch and then there were little bags of blue. We used to buy little squares of blue for about two pence (2d). Wash days started in the morning and was still going on at night. At home we all had a stool each that Mr Hillier the wheelwright made and at the end of washing day all the stools were scrubbed and the brushes and handles. When someone died we always kept a light burning in the bedroom all night with the body. I'm not sure why but it was something everybody did because we kept the dead bodies at home those days. I remember Mr Hillier made my Dad's coffin and carried it from Brister End down across Vecklands on his shoulder to our house. Dad had been ill from January until May. We didn't have any electric and lit a fire upstairs in the grate to keep him warm. Meat - well I know the Stevens got it on the Blackmarket. I used to stay with the Loveless family in Yeovil sometimes. They had soldiers billeted with them and they used to bring them chickens, towels and blankets! I remember working for a mr Zimner too. When he had to go to London occasionally I used to have to post big parcels for Mrs Zimner to her daughter in London. I don't know what was in them but I remember they used to cost 2 shillings and 6 pence to post. My brother Norman was in the Home Guard. He used to be up all night and then have to go to work all day. I was born in Mill Lane, Yetminster and lived there for 82 years. Dad's people came from Scotland but my Mum never saw them. Dad was in the navy and was posted to Portland. My Mum had relations in Portland and used to go and stay sometimes and that was how they met. There was never enough money for her to go to Scotland to meet them. Dad used to be away in the navy for three years at a time. When my brother Norman worked for Willis's in Sherborne he used to ask me if I wanted a lift into Sherborne and I used to have a ride on the cart - sitting on the board across the cart. He used to drop me in Westbury , Sherborne anbd I used to go up to Carters the butchers. They used to sell a big bag of bacon bits for 6d. It all made a difference as we only had £2 in wages coming in and then you had to pay rent and everything. In service I used to get £20 a year and I used to have to pay a shilling a week stamp."
Yetminster, Dorset

Cis Bell
at 97 is amazingly active and with an excellent memory.
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born in Wales and was at Derry when war broke out. I was 17 and wanted to join the Wrens. I had to go to Newport for a check-up - there were seven doctors there! It was quite disturbing. I had only ever seen one doctor at a time before! When I came back it was the wrong time at the station and I got on the wrong train. We lived in villages between hills and the trains went up the valleys. The train names were taken off during the war and the station signs were taken down so I got on the wrong train and went up the wrong valley! I realised what had happened and got off. It was February and it was snowing and cold. I needed to get back to Bargoed to get on the right train. I realised there was someone following me and it turned out to be a retired Colonel who asked me back to his hotel! He just wanted me to keep warm until the train left and offered to buy me a drink. I said I couldn't have a drink as we didn't drink at home! He said he meant a soft drink and eventually I got back to Derry. I remember the lovely smell of hot chocolate at his hotel. I was really disappointed because I was given a dispensation not to go as Mum had just had a baby boy and also had my other little brother and I was needed at home. I didn't see anyone to talk to so when I saw a card in the local shop, a general stores, for part-time help I asked if I could apply to get me out and meet people. Mum said yes and I started working there - it was really nice and being a general stores we didn't go short of anything!"
Wales

Gwynneth Heath

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

"I was nearly one when war broke out. I remember my Mickey Mouse gas mask. It was blue and red and frightened me. The colours were supposed to make them friendlier but I didn't like mine at all. I remember it hanging on my pram when I was taken out. It was quiet at St Ives, hardly any signs of the war at all except for one bomb that landed on the gas works next to my Grandad's house. I don't remember a lot about the war because I was so small. There were no sweets but then I grew up not knowing anything about sweets. My Mum was very good at making things. We didn't have any bananas either during the war. I remember my cousin who was in the navy coming home and he brought me a banana. I wouldn't eat it. I said 'I can't eat that it's yellow!' I remember dried egg. I loved dried egg. I didn't think of it as having anything to do with hens and egg shapes! Apparently a ship was bombed a short distance away from the harbour out at sea and there were bodies floating in but of course I didn't see any of that. When I was three Mum took me down to the Guildhall to take part in some entertainment for the troops. It was the first time I had ever seen a black man. They were Americans and they gave me sweets. Afterwards they found out where we lived and used to knock on the door and ask "Is my little sweetheart there?" and leave me sweets and things. I also remember sticky things that came out of tins. They were nice but I can't remember what they were called. My father was manager of the local Co-op shop - so we didn't go short of anything!"
St Ives, Cornwall

Nan Paine
was born at St Ives, Cornwall in 1939.
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was at Leigh, Dorset and I can remember we used to have a German Prisoner of war come to work on our farm. His name was Bernard and he was very nice. He used to come to stay with us without a guard during the week and return to the Prisoner of War Camp at the weekend. I remember he was really annoyed when we used to sweep the chimney because we used to push the sweeping brush up the chimney from inside. Apparently in Germany they used to get on the roof and push the brush down! Bernard used to say 'It goes down chimney not up!'
The German prisoner of war story reminded Alec Oxford who was at the same memories afternoon that some German Prisoners of War also worked in the Railway Goods Sheds."
Leigh, Dorset

Pauline House
was a war baby so has few wartime memories.
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was a war baby. I was fostered with a spinster at Branksome. 'Aunty Rose' was very nice and took in a lot of children.
We were on Alder Road near the Pineland Laundry. I remember I had ricketts during the war and I was sent to Boscombe Hospital. I remember the lovely smell of hot chocolate at the hospital. I had to sit in a type of high backed chair to try and correct my posture. I also remember grey horrible porridge at the hospital - and tripe!
My other war memories were of sand buckets, sand bags and water tanks. When I went back to Aunty Rose and started school it was on the Branksome main road. I ran in front of an army lorry one day. The soldiers gave me chocolates and comics! - a real treat. I remember being given chewing gum by Alerican troops at the school gates and when I was a foster child I remember a lovely party at the Shaftesbury Military Base.
I used to do everyones shopping for them and took their dogs out for walks. I remember being sent to the fishmongers for 6d worth of cat fish. I remember making us rissoles out of sausage meat and shepherds pie out of sausage meat too! The Manager at World Stores knew me and he always used to give us kids a little bit of something from under the counter - broken biscuits or a bit of spam!
Aunty Rose was quite old and had dreadful cramps. I used to look after her and stayed off of school. Eventually the authorities found out and moved me to East Street Bridport, Charmouth and then Wynford Eagle. I went to Maiden Newton School and when I left school I worked for people in the Sherborne area where I live today."
Dorset

Shirley Sargent

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was in hospital during the war at one time. I remember the hospitals being banked up with sandbags to give them some protection. I remember when they tried to bomb the gas works at Branksome. We used to hear the sier go for when the men came out of work. They had a 12 o'clock lunch so they missed it fortunately. Another time it was between 3 and 4pm - the kiddies were coming home from school. A Fish and Chip shop three doors away was bombed. You could see the fire from our window. The lady that I lived with used to look after 6 or 7 of us foster children. It was all like an adventure to us kids during the war!"
Poole, Dorset

Shirley Sargent

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Shirley remembers while she was at Branksome Chine near Bournemouth there was barbed wire on the beaches and you were not allowed to go on the beach."
Branksome Chine near Bournemouth

Shirley Sargent

In The Home
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was 18 when war broke out. We lived in a small market town. Father had been a regular Naval Officer in the First World War. There were two adults and three of my brothers and we had two cousins and an Aunt staying with us. At the beginning of the war I had started my nurses training and I was working on a Childrens Ward at Ashbridge. Then I went down with tuberculosis. I continued my training at Adenbrooks, Cambridge and was there from 1942 - 45.
My three brothers were older and it was a struggle with the rationing. We were lucky having a good fishmonger. The shops had jolly posters. I remember one - 'Rabbits are coming but the Russians went'. I remember clothes rationing but it didn't really affect me as I was in uniform most of the time. We had an extremely competent dietician at the hospital - catering could be described as dull! We had dried eggs for supper and prunes and porridge for breakfast. I remember the complaints book - there was one about a nail being found in a scone and the answer it was the Iron Ration! There were lots of jokes. I remember when the evacuees came. We had a mother and three children - orthdox Jews. They had to get a special dispensation about food. We had French friends and couldn't believe France had capitulated. I remember the horror and incredulity of us all when France capitulated. I was shattered. We were very much a service family. I had a cousin at El Alamein. I clearly remember the exhileration when we won the battle of El Alamein. I remember all the churchbells rang for El Alamein - that was not usually allowed during wartime. They had not rung since the war had begun. They were only to be rung to give news of invasion. I went to Kings College Chapel and we sang 'Now thank we all our God' and could hardly hear ourselves because every bell in Cambridge was ringing. I remember we were all given leaflets as to what to do if we were invaded 'try not to give the enemy anything, particularly food or maps and keep off the roads.' All signposts, railway station signboards etc were taken down so that (hopefully!) the enemy invaders would get lost. Nothing was scrapped any more.
I remember mail being censored - we didn't know what was going on. I also remember saving paper. You couldn't get anything wrapped. I went to the theatre once carrying a saucepan! Everyone was the same. Nobody laughed. I think they were envious of the saucepan - I had just managed to buy it! I put it under my seat.
I remember when peace was declared - I was on Midsummer Common, Cambridge. I remember dancing around a huge bonfire. I had a Belgian Blue Jacket. Morale was high. I always thought we were going to win. We had some nasty moments but we had a navy. We trusted the King, Churchill, Montgomery and de Gaulle.
I remember for the last few months of the war we had sick German prisoners of war in the hospital where I worked. I don't think any of them wanted to escape but we had a British Tommy on guard outside the ward. The junior night nurse had to wake him in the morning with a cup of tea!"
South East

Margaret Webster
Is now a resident of St Johns Almshouse, Sherborne, Dorset but when war broke out was living in a small market town in Hertfordshire.
Food and Cooking
South East
1939 - 1945
Rationing
"Food rationing was introduced early in the war and was I think fairly and efficiently organised. Certainly I never went hungry although the food was DULL! Some food disappeared - bananas and icing sugar I remember. Wedding cakes were a problem! Dried banana was available in hospital for children with coeliac disease.
One had to register with a shop for basic rations - sugar, tea, butter etc. I remember a joke that amused us; a picture of a man rushing with a bucket and shovel to pick up the droppings of the milk cart pony to use as manure in his garden and the pony saying coldly "are you registered with me?"
At one time bread was rationed and we had bread units for this known as B.U's. The national loaf was wholemeal. Eggs were in short supply- one a month at one time. I remember asking a friend "Have you had your monthly egg?" At one time milk was short too - 2 pints a week per person. Dried milk and dried eggs were often available. I certainly ate more sweets in war than in peace. We ate few sweets at home usually but it seemed a pity not to eat all one's ration!
We also had a points system. One was issued with a number of points coupons and could choose what one spent them on - biscuits etc. My mother who clearly remembered the 1914-18 war said the rationing in the last war was much better than in the 14-18 war. She added cheerfully in fun "I suppose if we have wars often enough we'll get the rationing system perfect!""
South East

Margaret Webster
Is now a resident of St Johns Almshouse, Sherborne, Dorset but when war broke out was living in a small market town in Hertfordshire.

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