Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"I was born 11th November 1928, Remembrance Day, so I was called Poppy.
I remember queuing for bananas and oranges. We used to turn worn out sheets sides to the middle to give them a new lease of life. Wedding dresses were made from parachute silk if you were lucky enough to get some.
Lots of rabbit meat was eaten and rabbits were bred especially for this purpose. Butter was rationed so we used to put jam on first and butter on top to make it go further. Rosehips were gathered for vitamin C. We got extra rations of preserving sugar to make jam. Children were allowed orange juice and cod liver oil. There was quite a good exchange system working - the Black Market!
We ate all of the pig - there were bath chaps, brawn, brain, tripe and chitterlings!
I remember dried egg, dried milk and mock cream. There was chicory and dandelion coffee. There was a shortage of kilner jars - we used candle wax to seal the jars. Candles were sold by the pound weight.
I remember red petrol and cars being stopped to check what was in the tank. Slits were fitted to the headlights to restrict the amount of light showing and of course everyone had blackout curtains.
A lot of flax was grown for soldiers uniforms.
Newspapers were rationed to half of their usual size to save paper.
I remember saving 18 coupons for a coat, 12 for a dress, 2 for stockings and 7 for shoes."
Weymouth, Dorset

Poppy and friends raising money during the war. Poppy Butcher

Poppy sharing her wartime collection at a Make do and Mend event.
Clothing
South West
1939 - 1945

"I remember Blanket Coats. It saved on your coupons and soon they became the latest fashion. At first we had army blankets and could make them into coats. Then it became all the rage to get airforce coloured blankets and they were considered to be superior!"
Bristol

Alice Smith

Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I lived in Outer London, at Thornton Heath, when war broke out. We had had the phoney war and then war broke out on 3rd September. My mother had had another baby in the Spring and on the 4th we were evacuated to Brighton. I always thought it was a strange place to be evacuated to - looking over the English Channel when planes were coming over. We had a lovely Victorian villa type house and shared it with another evacuated family - a mum and baby. I loved it there. We spent most of the war there - 3 1/2 years. At first it didn't seem necessary but eventually we heard that our house in London had been badly damaged in a bombing raid so we had to stay until it was repaired.
I remember seeing tiny boats out to sea and we climbed to Devil's Dyke and saw the small boats coming back from the evacuation of Dunkirk. I shall always remember it.
I went to school locally. I used to have 6d a week pocket money and used to go into the antique shops and buy little bits of china. Father was away - he was sent to Portsmouth on war work.
When our house was repaired we returned to London - just in time for the doodle bugs and the V2 rockets! They were really frightening. I remember the ack-ack guns too.
I don't ever remember being hungry or being short of anything. I think our parents hid those things from us and deprived themselves of their rations to give us the things we needed. I never wanted to live in London again and have always lived in the country."
Thornton Heath, London

Wendy Bray

Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"I don't remember being very short of much during the war except my sweet ration used to disappear very quickly. Mum used to send me to the shop for a halfpenny's worth of sweets. She used to send me with a penny and always asked for the change. Our little shopkeeper was an old lady and she used to make her own sweets. I'm not sure how she got the sugar! She used to make sticky toffee drops and some others. I do remember things getting worse after the war. During the war our local baker still made his lovely bread. You used to be able to smell it baking from our house and Mum used to send me round to get our loaf that wasn't rationed. After the war for a while bread was rationed. The Utility Loaf was horrible after our lovely bread. They used to say 70% less wheat in it. I'm not sure what was in it. It was a grey colour and tasted awful. Mum managed to get some flour and made us soda bread at home."
Street, Somerset

Muriel Smith

Food and Cooking
South West
1939 - 1945

"Uncle George used to work in the Horlicks Factory in Crewkerne. During the war they used to be given big jars of Horlicks every few weeks and we used to give some to our cousins near Sherborne to save their ration coupons. We didn't use that much Horlicks at home so we used to trade our spare with neighbours for other things we needed. The big jars were very useful afterwards for storage jars."
Dowlish Wake, Somerset

Jess Fowler

Food and Cooking
Wales
1939 - 1945

"There were six of us and four loved sugar and sweets. Mum used to get really fed up with the arguments over rations so she set us up a jar each and put our names on it - she used the edging bits off of the postage stamps with sticky backs to save paper. She used to put our weekly ration in our jar and when it was gone that was it! I remember our gas masks. They used to hang on a hook behind the door. We were supposed to practice putting them on but we didn't like them. We didn't like the rubbery smell either. I can't remember finding them useful except when Mum asked me to peel the onions. I was the oldest and they stopped my eyes running!"
Hengoed, South Wales

Mary Smith

Clothing
Food and Cooking
Everyday Life
North West
South East
1939 - 1945

"My father was a morse code instructor during the war. I didn't go to ordinary school but was taught by post as part of the Parents Union School that I think was based in the Lake District. We were in Aberdeen for a few months when father was instruction Naval Cadets. He had three months to teach them what should have taken three years.
In Aberdeen I remember an air raid. Mother and I were sitting under the kitchen table. Our canary was on the top in its cage. I don't know why we didn't have her underneath with us. She used to travel everywhere with us. She was so used to travelling she used to sing on station platforms and wasn't at all worried when travellers came to talk to her.
I remember one air raid while we were in Aberdeen - a big one that went on and on. When there was a lull Mother and I went to visit the old man next door and stayed with him when it started again. I remember he gave me some books to read to take my mind off of the raid - but they were all in Gaelic! He hadn't realised I couldn't read them. We had double summer time while we were in Aberdeen. In Aberdeen we were above the city and could look down on it and the harbour. There was a big ship anchored in the harbour and an enemy plane came over and started firing on it. I remember lots of tracer bullets. The ship was firing at the plane. I shall always remember what mother said. It sounded strange to me.
"Isn't that pretty. I do like that!" - the colours were quite pretty as they fired at each other but it was really quite frightening.

We were in Scarborough too. I remember mother seeing a queue. We didn't know what we were queuing for but after a long time we got to the front of the shop and all we could have was just one Victoria plum. It was a very big one. I don't remember ever seeing such a large plum before and I can't remember what we did with it! Mother used to skin things too. I remember a lot of rabbit meat.

When we were in Brighton I remember another air raid. We hid under the table for what seemed like hours. I can remember the pattern of the linoleum today - I was looking at it for so long!

When we were in Shropshire we had a bungalow in a steeply sided valley. It only had oil lamps and oil for cooking. We used to hear the bombers go over heading for Shrewsbury. We used to go outside to listen and heard the thump, thump thump as the bombs fell. I was an only child so I didn't have enough courage to go out on my own at night and climb up the hill. I would have liked to to see the town and where the bombs had fallen. Mum used to buy my sweet ration once a month. She always bought chocolate bars and then broke them up. I got two chunks each day. I never had any sugar I was always given saccharin. Mum loved making jam so saved all of the sugar ration for that. When sugar wasn't rationed any longer I didn't like the taste of it at all. It tasted funny to me.

I don't remember being short of clothes but mother was very good at sewing. I do remember one of the places we stayed at had a an electric heater with two switches. She wasn't used to it. We hadn't had anything like it at home. She put on one switch and there was a warm light but no heat. She said "I don't think much of this heater". She didn't realise you had to put on the other switch to get the heat!"


Marguerite found two wartime booklets - the Protection of Your Home against Air Raids and Your Food in War-time. Marguerite k Marguerite Backhouse
A talented artist who now lives at Glanvilles Wootton, Dorset not surprising recalls, colours and scenes during her wartime schooldays that took her across the country.
Everyday Life
South East
1939 - 1945

"I remember double summertime. One day when I was walking with my mother in a lane near Burnham Beeches on Farnham Common we were in sight of Windsor Castle. I can still clearly see all of the chimneys on the side of the lane. I am not sure what they were but was told it was something to do with the war"
[we believe they burnt oil to create a distracting smokescreen]"
Farnham Common, Slough

Marguerite found two wartime booklets - the Protection of Your Home against Air Raids and Your Food in War-time. Marguerite k Marguerite Backhouse
A talented artist who now lives at Glanvilles Wootton, Dorset not surprising recalls, colours and scenes during her wartime schooldays that took her across the country.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1943 - 1954

"My family was part of the Polish community at Haydon Park on the outskirts of Sherborne. I remember the galvanise roofs of the huts. They had a door at each end and were divided with one family at each end. The winters were very cold. We only had a small pot bellied stove for heat. Mum used to heat the water on top of it. I remember my Dad carrying me to the hospital hut when I was very ill with measles. When some of the families had been re-homed in the local community the hut was opened up and we had the whole hut. A new small range was fitted which was much warmer. I lived there until about 1954.

The camp was built in 1943 by the Americans as Field Hospital 228 and consisted mostly of nissen huts. Conditions were very basic when the camp was handed over to house refugees. NAFFI furniture on site was used to furnish the huts which did not have running water. There were communal washing areas and toilets. There was a central canteen and two meals a day were provided with breakfast and other small cooking needs carried out in the huts."
Sherborne, Dorset

Liz
Sherborne Museum would like to hear from anyone else who lived at Haydon Park Camp and hope to hold a reunion at the Museum in 2011
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Wales
1939 - 1945

"My grandfather was a butcher here during the war. He had to supply his own set of butchers knives. They were always kept on a stand on the dresser and he took them to work everyday. He was allowed to bring the trimmings of meat home everyday so we had a slightly bigger meat ration than a lot of families. My brothers used to go and scour the slag heaps for any bits of coal they could find and used to bring them home in their pockets."
Ebbw Vale

Emma Martin

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