Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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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

Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"My father used to keep a few chicken and rabbits on his allotment in the town. We had relations in London. Sometimes we used to send them up a chicken when my father was killing a few older broilers. We used to pack them still with their feathers on in a box and they went up by train. During the war we needed the eggs so kept the chickens until they were older if they were still laying but we used to breed rabbits for us and to sell to the local butchers. We sent a couple of rabbits up to London. We laughed when we had a thankyou letter from them 'We did enjoy the rabbits, thankyou, but they took a lot longer to pluck than the chickens.' Living in the city they had never had to skin a rabbit before!"
Yeovil, Somerset

Dorothy Turner
of Yeovil
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"Edward Dyer of Winchester recalls his father, who loved near Fair Oak, not far from Eastleigh, Hampshire was a member of the Home Guard and was often out at night on duty. However they didn't have a village hall to meet in and their Headquarters was an old hut in a local sand pit."
Winchester

Edward Dyer

Clothing
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember having to turn the collars on father's shirts to make them last longer. We used to cut off the long shirt tails and put a different piece of material on for the tail so that we had spare matching material to make a new collar out of. If the cuffs wore and we didn't have enough material we used to cut the sleeves shorter and make short sleeved shirts."
Thornford, Dorset

Kathy Gray

Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember the day a neighbour's evacuee was killed at Thornford. They had a little girl of three and a boy who was older and went to Thornford School.
They had come to the village with a lot of children from the East End of London. Mr and Mrs Garrett didn't have any children and they lived in a small wooden bungalow that was built on to the back wall of our house at Lake at the Sherborne End of Thornford, a small group of houses outside of the village on what was called Thornford Lane. One day the older children were playing in the field across the road by the Lake and these were in the garden. They kicked the ball into the road and he chased after it. I could hear a motorbike coming and shouted to him to stop but he didn't. They had been warned about the road but it all seemed so quiet after London. The bike was ridden by a Despatch Rider on an urgent mission. He skidded right down to the well where we used to get our water on the other side of the road and pushed the little boy down the road. The Despatch Rider wasn't hurt and picked the boy up and carried him indoors. Someone phoned for an ambulance - but hardly anyone had a phone so I expect it was the farmer at the top of the hill - and eventually we heard the bell of the ambulance that had come out from Sherborne. He was taken to the Yeatman Hospital in Sherborne but he died a few days later. I think they had trouble tracing his Mum as she had sent them down under a false name and she had to get the train to Sherborne.
I believe she was stepping off the train at about the time her son died at the Yeatman Hospital and she didn't get there in time. He was buried in Sherborne Cemetery and his sister was taken back by his mother to London."
Thornford, Dorset

Kathy Gray

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