Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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Supported through
'Their Past Your Future 2' (TPYF2) Programme



All | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950

Everyday Life
1938 - 1940

"In 1938 we were measured and fitted with gas masks during the Munich crisis. Trenches were dug for shelter from air-raids and some street shelters were built. Then the Munich Agreement was signed and we all thought we were safe from war! We bought a three bedroom house in Solihull. The war put an end to my school days. In the summer of 1940 I went to work in the staff office at Lewis's store in Bull Street, Birmingham Even during the war Lewis's held dinner dances in the restaurants. Sometimes Joe Loss provided the music. When Joe Loss wanted to see Mr O'Sullivan in a hurry he used to bring us a box of chocolates if we could give him an appointment straight away. Sweets were rationed and chocolate almost non-existant so he always did go straight in!"

Peggy Nash
nee Williams. Born 14th April 1925
Everyday Life
1938 - 1945

"The air raids were terrible. One awful night the ARP Wardens made us all leave our houses and go outside and lie in the ditch under the elm trees in the field. Shrapnel came down all around us. During the raid which went on for several hours there was also a storm of incendiary bombs. The noise was indescribable and we were so cold as it was November. Next day I walked the eight miles along the Coventry Road into the city to Lewis's. No buses could get through as so much of the Coventry Road had been blitzed. It was no wonder that the sky towards Birmingham had been so red the night before. Most of the places were still burning. When I eventually got within sight of Lewis's I found the road was barred because there was a 1000 lb unexploded bomb outside the main entrance to the store I had to turn round and walk home again. We had no gas, electricity or water. It was cut off for several days. There was one stand-pipe a quarter of a mile from the house and Mother and I took buckets there for water. Candles, when we could get them, provided light and we cooked what we could on the open fire or in the Valor oil-stove - if we had any paraffin. When we had a cousin coming we saved up three weeks of meat coupons to be able to buy a small joint. The night before was the night they bombed Coventry so badly and there was no gas, electricity or water. Father built a big fire in the grate and tied the joint up with string and suspended it from a poker in front of the fire. It took a long time to cook but it was delicious!"

Peggy Nash
nee Williams. Born 14th April 1925
Food and Cooking
South West
1938 - 1945

"Lots of rabbits were kept and bred for meat ' we ate lots of rabbits meat'.
Butter was rationed. We used to put ham on first and a little butter on top to make it go further.
We picked rose hips for vitamin c and they were turned into syrup.
You could get extra coupons to buy preserving sugar to make jam.
Children were given cod liver oil and orange juice to keep them healthy.
We kept pigs. We ate everything of the pig but the squeak!
We ate bath chaps, brawn, the brain and chitterlings. We ate a lot of tripe.
We had dried egg and dried milk and mock cream.
Chicory and dandelion were used for coffee.
There was a shortage of kilner preserving jars. We used candle wax to seal the jars.
We ate bully beef and we got to like Spam that came from America.
If you were lucky you could exchange items and might be able to get something on the Black Market.
South West

Leigh Old VIcarage
Collective war time recollections at a taster session before their World War Two tea party.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1937 - 1945

"I worked at Harper House, a boarding house for Sherborne School, as a sewing maid with Mr Tindall as House Master. In the 1920s he asked me to join him as House Matron at West Downs Preparatory School, Winchester, the Preparatory School for Winchester College, where he had just been appointed Head Master.
Two of my friends went with him too. West Downs was a lovely school and I enjoyed my work there. I used to come home during the holidays or sometimes went on holiday with the Tindalls to the Isle of Wight or Newquay.
When the war came we were worried about the boys.
Some of my favourite Old Boys were Peter Scott who as a boy used to come and ask.
"May can I borrow your watch?" He was always drawing as a young boy but didn't have a watch. He used to draw wildlife in the grounds during his lunch hour. We also had Angus Ogilvy and his brother. Their parents gave me a clock for looking after them so well!
Southampton was bombed and we always had bombers flying overhead. Some of the parents were worried too so Mr Tindall started looking for a safe place to move the school to. We took over Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire in South West Scotland and soon the boys started arriving. All went well at first. Their parents managed to send supplies of most things they needed and there was always something for us too. Then things changed. We found we were on the flight path for Ireland and Mr Tindall started to get worried again.
I went home for the summer holidays. It was a long train journey. I used to have a break in London and go and stay with Aunt Louisa and Uncle Zeb at Finsbury Park. Uncle Zeb was an Austrian Pastry Cook but he was interred in the Alexandra Palace in the First World War in case he was a spy! Aunt used to be allowed to visit him on Sundays. After the war they changed their name back to her maiden name, from Reinthler to Hunt, in case the same thing happened again!
I was crossing Waterloo Bridge one afternoon when there was an air raid and had to go to the nearest shelter. Some time afterwards Uncle Zeb's house was bombed and most of their road. They were re-housed close by. On my way back to Scotland Mother, Louisa's older sister, used to send up a few supplies from the country -eggs, fruit and jam- and I used to drop them off.
When we got back to Scotland we had a shock. The army had taken over Glenapp castle and with less than 48 hours before the boys were due back we had to start searching for another home for the school.
Mr Tindall spent most of the next day with the army who tried to find somewhere for the boys. Then at the last minute we learnt Blair Castle, near Blair Atholl village, in Perthshire was being made available for us. Some of us went on to the castle while others waited to collect the boys as they arrived back and see they were sent on to Blair Atholl. There hadn't been time to tell them to go to Blair Atholl. It was a lovely place to stay. It had been an auxillary hospital in the First World War but was the family home of the Duke of Atholl. The Duke was the only person allowed to keep a private army and we often saw his Atholl Highlanders. While we were there the Duke died and we watched the Highlanders parade and pipe the coffin from the house to the church. We watched from the upper windows. The family made us very welcome and we had few shortages. The estate was large and the remaining keepers kept us well supplied with food.
The boys were very careful in the castle and I don't remember any breakages but they all came from well off homes so were used to such places.
In May 1945 I had a phonecall from Dorset to say Mother was seriously ill so I packed up and caught the first train home. She died soon after I got there and I stayed home to look after father and never returned to Scotland. At home we had rationing but we had a large garden and two allotments. My brother was a thatcher and got a special petrol allowance so he could carry on working. He often came home with something for the table. My Uncle was a keeper in Honeycombe Wood so he sometimes gave us things too. He kept pigs and built a smoke house near the house. He used oak shavings and smoked the joints and hams so we often had meat too. "
Dorset, Scotland, London

Emily May Garrett

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1938 - 1945

"We were bombed out and moved to Bristol during the war. I remember the air raids and the bombs falling. There were Morrision shelters -a steel construction 6 x 4 with a mesh type grid around. I remember hiding under the stairs with my mother. Fortunately we were in the shelter when the house was hit. The ceilings came down and there was dust everywhere. Then we moved to relatives at Westbury on Trim. In 1943/4. I remember the sound of the air raid sirens raised the hair on the back of my neck. I recall barrage balloons and the arc of searchlights. Father was in the LCC and would be on Fire Duty at County Hall. He was a member of the Magic Circle and a ventriloquist and had Punch and Judy dolls. After the war the house was patched up. I can remember the workmen. People got grants to repair war damage after a survey. The blown out windows were taken away and the doors didn't fit. We kept chicken, two ducks and I remember we used to swap food coupons. Word used to get around when bananas had arrived at the greengrocers. There used to be broken biscuits at the front of the shop counter. Money was scarce. I remember soap came in large blocks. Soap was rubbed on our hair instead of shampoo. There was a gridded container to put used bits of soap in that was then circulated in water to make washing up liquid. Sheets were turned sides to the middle. We never threw anything away.

I remember an incendiary bomb coming through our roof - right into my mother's bedroom. We had a brown haircord carpet and it burnt a hole through it and continued to burn as it went down through the floor."
Sutton, Surrey and Bristol

Malcolm Saunders
was born at Sutton, Surrey in 1938
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1914 - 1945

"Beryl Harwood recalled how as a small girl in Southampton her father took her to see the 1914 volunteers marching through the streets to embark for France and when the Second World War broke out she decided to enlist, defying her parents. Beryl joined the WRAF and when the war ended she joined the allied forces in Germany."

Beryl Harwood

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1933 - 1945

"Corrie was born at Berry Court Farm, Donhead St Andrew in 1909 and first married in 1933 but her husband was sadly killed in a motorbike accident in 1936. During the war, on Christmas Day 1941 she married Charlie Conduit and is remembered for her war time work at Guys Marsh Military Hospital which has led to her lifelong support of the Red Cross."
Shaftesbury, Dorset

Corrie Conduit
Friends of Corrie Conduit of Shaftesbury have asked that she should me mentioned.

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