Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"My Dad came home one night saying there was something going on at Monkton Farleigh quarry. We lived just outside of Bradford on Avon and we heard the old stone quarry had become a huge underground ammunition store. It was busy on the lead up to D Day. Some time later about 1942 time I think, Bath was bombed badly. We could see the flames. They said 500 people had been killed on two nights of bombing and hundreds of houses had to be demolished.

Lots more people have recalled special stores and ammunition caches in farm buildings, isolated barns and special factories across the West Country."
Bradford on Avon, Somerset

Arthur Smith

Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was eight when war broke out. I lived at Thornford near Sherborne in Dorset. My parents lived at Cross House and Dad was a builder. I remember most of all the troops who were stationed in the village - all the different regiments and the Americans - some set up camp in Kings Road and their cookhouse was on our land at Cross House. They were all very nice. They used to tease me because I had such rosy cheeks. They used to ask if I had put rouge on them! They used to give us sweets. I remember the build up to D Day and then they were gone. It was strange without them.
On Monday 30th September 1940 in the afternoon I was walking up to Thornford Hill with my Mum, Gran and Great Gran. Great Gran had been evacuated from Worcester Park. She didn't live with us but she used to come to us for meals. We were going blackberrying. Dad was working nights and was in bed. We heard this noise and then there was a grey mist. We thought Thornford had been bombed. The noise was awful. We were worried about Dad. We rushed back to the village as fast as we could and found it wasn't Thornford but Sherborne town that had been hit - three miles away. When I left Thornford school at 11 I went to Lord Digby's School for Girls - the grammar school in Sherborne. One day I was on Yeovil Pen Mill Station with friends and I saw an American Captain looking at me. Then he rushed over and threw his arms around me . "You look just like my little girl back home" he said. He kept in touch after that and one day arrived at the school to look for me! Miss Thomson wasn't very pleased, the Headmistress, and called me into her office. I explained and it was alright and he was allowed to see me. Then one day he wrote to me. He used to write - and said I won't write for a while. I have to go away. I didn't hear from him again. He used to send me parcels of food and things. I have always wondered what happened. Did he get killed and his little girl never saw him again? He was really nice."
Thornford, Dorset

Barbara Edwards
nee Burrett
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"We lived at Lake. It was a good half a mile out of Thornford Village. Our postal address was Thornford Road. The children had to walk into the village to go to school. The evacuees had arrived in the village and our neighbour Mrs Garrett had two - a boy and a girl. The little girl was about three or four and her brother was a bit older. They had all come down from a Roman Catholic School in the east end of London. I remember one day I had crossed the road. It was never very busy. I was in the fields on the other side of the road with some friends. The others were playing in the garden with a ball. Suddenly the ball came over the hedge out into the road. I saw Cecil starting to run and shouted to him not to come out into the road as I could hear a motorbike coming. He either didn't hear or just kept on coming anyway. The bike hit him and skidded a long way and took him right down the road to where our well was. We didn't have any mains water. It was a Despatch Rider. He wasn't hurt but he could see the little boy was. He picked him up and carried him back up the road to the cottages. He had to go as he had an urgent message to deliver. Someone sent for the ambulance - we didn't have the phone - and he was taken to the Yeatman Hospital. Later we heard he had died. His mother came down from London for the funeral and took the little girl - I think her name was Rita - back to London with her."
Thornford, Dorset

Kathleen Gray

Clothing
South West
1939 - 1945

"Make do and Mend! I remember it well. I used to turn sheets sides to the middle and make new collars for father's shirts out of shirt tails. Then when the cuffs wore out I used to shorten the sleeves to make short sleeved shirts. We didn't waste anything or throw things away."
Dorset

Kathleen Gray

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Best of all I remember all the Regimental dances we used to go to. We had a lot of different regiments billeted at Thornford [near Sherborne, Dorset]. Every Saturday evening each Regiment used to organise a dance in the village hall and I used to go with my friends. We used to love them."
Thornford, Dorset

Kathleen Gray

In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
North East
1939 - 1945
Kathleen Willcock and her husband visited the museum in August 2010 and Kathleen recalled
"I was living with my family near Leeds and was evacuated to Lincoln. I was at the High School and had hoped to complete my last year and get my school certificate. We thought it was a strange place to be evacuated to as we all thought Lincoln was more likely to be bombed and it had been quite peaceful at home. I remember the whole school left by train. I remember the very tearful goodbyes. I thought I would never see my mother again! However I had a very happy year - and no bombing! I got my school certificate and left and got a job. We were evacuated to a very old house - a lovely old mansion not far from the cathedral. It was lovely. We were lucky as I lived there with my friends but some of the others were in another part of Lincoln and had a long walk to school. It was a very happy and peaceful time after all!"
Leeds and Lincoln

Kathleen Willcock

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember there were decoy lights sited in Clifton Wood to fool the German bombers into thinking that the wood was Westlands Aero Factory. A number of bombs were dropped there but none exploded and they were later removed by RAF crews. Barrage balloons were sited in Barwick Park [on the outskirts of Yeovil]. They broke free in high winds and one landed in Clifton Maybank and people came from Bradford Abbas to cut pieces off for souvenirs.
Supplies for the Fleet at Portland and the D Day landings were transported by trains on the Yeovil to Weymouth line and many of these trains were pulled by two American engines which still had cow catchers on the front. Another engine had to be used at the rear to push the heavily laden trains up the track over the Evershot incline. The fields between Broadclose and Huish Farm in Clifton were full of American troops and vehicles before D Day. One morning the whole lot had disappeared to embark from Weymouth for Omaha beach. On one occasion an American pilot flying a Westland Lysander force landed on Broadclose Farm ground and the pilot stayed with the family in their farmhouse for several days.
I can recall my father standing in the open front doorway of Broadclose Farmhouse watching and listening to planes droning by overhead and telling the family that these were German planes and they were on their way to bomb Bristol.
As a pupil at Bradford Abbas Primary School I can remember being escorted with all the other pupils from the school to take cover in the air raid trenches in the paddock where the 'new' part of the school is now."
Bradford Abbas, Dorset

Jack Mellish
spent his wartime years on the family farm on the outskirts of Bradford Abbas, Dorset. His memories sharply contrast with his wife, Wendy's, whose wartime years were spent in Bristol.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1945

"I was born in Bristol in the winter of 1940 and as a baby of course blissfully unaware of the conflict in progress. It is family folk lore now that at that time my father did not have a car and cycled and slithered along icy roads to his best friend's house who then took him and my mother in his car to the Bristol Maternity Hospital. My mother, so the story goes, was dressed to the nines in a coat, hat, fox fur stole complete with it's head and tail, and gloves.
However, gradually I became aware that my father, who was a Special Constable, disappeared off into the blackout on his bicycle, to spend the night on duty. Father was by day in a reserved occupation in a Bristol factory.
I remember visiting an aunt and uncle at their farm just outside Gloucester and standing at the roadside watching and being almost deafened by enormous army tanks trundling past. I can remember the sound of the sirens - but cannot remember being at all frightened. I remember the shelter under the pantry which we got into by clambering thru' a trapdoor in the pantry floor. When we were all ensconced in there one night there was an almighty crash and my parents feared the worst, but in fact some saucepans had fallen off a shelf!
Most of all I remember much laughter, happiness and silly jokes between parents, relatives and neighbours, which I now find quite amazing as at times conditions must have been terrifying and so many husbands and sons were away.
I remember that on VE Day 1945 all the neighbours who lived in our road organised a fete and sports day at what was later to become Cleeve Rugby Club, at which we were all presented with red, white and blue rosettes and I was taught to plait with the three tails of my rosette. I remember that my mother kept eggs in isinglass in a bucket under the stairs. Fresh eggs were a rarity which we enjoyed after a visit to my grandparents in the country.
I also remember dried milk and orange juice from the 'clinic'. A real and rare luxury was a tin of salmon and a tin of peaches - kept for special occasions such as when the family visited. A friend of my grandmother's made me a skirt to wear to school from the handed down suit trousers of my father's. All my jumpers were hand knitted."
Bristol

Wendy Mellish
was a wartime baby, born in Bristol and now resides in Dorset.
Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1940 - 1945

"Thinking about it all has reawakened many more wartime memories. I learned to read at the age of three - a sign outside the sweetshop saying 'No Ices'. I remember the 'pig bin' along our road into which everyone scraped their leftover scraps after Sunday lunch to be boiled up to feed the pigs. The metal chains strung between the pillars on ours and all our neighbours' front garden walls were taken for the 'War Effort' to make aeroplanes we were told.
I remember the bombed sites surrounding and in the heart of Bristol. In fact these sites were used for car parking and became commonplace. There were also the British Restaurants where plain reasonably priced meals were served.

Life was different outside of Bristol Wendy found.

I remember waiting at the station with my mother to catch the train from Fishponds (Bristol) to my grandparent's farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire. I was absolutely terrified that the 'gangers', the men working on the line, would get run over by our train. We came home laden with eggs, a chicken and home cured bacon from Grampy's Gloucester Old Spot pigs.

My mother took me to Weston Super Mare on the train for a week's holiday in 1944 when I was about four years old. £5 was enough for our guest house accomodation plus a skirt and a pair of shoes for my mother - and ice creams for me!

Wendy lived in Bristol until 1960 and after a move to Somerset settled in West Dorset and has now discovered her maternal Gloucestershire branch of her family actually originated from Dorset, having traced this side of her family back to the 1600s."
Bristol

Wendy Mellish
was a wartime baby, born in Bristol and now resides in Dorset.
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.

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