Bombs dropped in the ward of: Hammersmith Broadway
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Hammersmith Broadway:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
Memories in Hammersmith Broadway
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by Christine Cuss (BBC WW2 People's War)
Extracts from a notebook written by Christine’s father, Alexander Pierce, which he started at the outbreak of WW2 through to the end of the War.
This notebook was discovered in 1980, a year after my father’s death. My father was not able to receive a good education, but it is to his credit that he realised the importance to record the events of the war years for me. It illustrates the devotion of a father to his only child and to his wife during those terrifying years. Only the spellings and punctuation have been changed by me. I am deeply proud of the record he kept, and extremely thankful to have been his daughter.
Monday, 14th March, 1938. Christine I am writing this page for you, to let you see the state of the World at this present time.
First Mussolini invaded and took Abyssinia. Now Hitler of Germany has invaded Austria. These two dictators are causing all the trouble that is going on. All I hope is that Germany will not interfere with Czechoslovakia because England has made a promise to go to her assistance, that would mean we would have to go to war which I do not want because I should have to leave you and mother. I love you both.
12th September, 1938.
Dear Christine. We are now passing through a most critical time. It looks as if Germany is going to invade Czechoslovakia, that would mean another World War which I spoke of further back in this book. The Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, has sent for the Prime Minister of France to come to England. You have been up to Downing Street to-day which is the 18th of September while the cabinet is sitting. We are waiting to hear what the news is going to be. We all hope it is not War. Love Daddy.
18th September, 1938.
Dear Christine. We have taken you this day to Westminster Abbey for the Church service. There were thousands of people there. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 25th Sept., 1938.
We all went to get fitted with gas masks. Christine, you cried a lot. It upset mother a lot, but it had to be done to save your life in case war was declared which is supposed to be Oct. 1st.
Thursday 29th Sept., 1938.
Mother went to get our gas masks. She got mine and hers, but she was told she would have to go to the Town Hall for Christine’s. It has upset mother because she thinks they will take you from her to send you away for safety.
Thursday, 29th Sept., 1938.
At this time of writing, things are very bad indeed. War is supposed to be declared on October 1st, 1938, but at the last moment, Hitler of Germany sent for Mr. Chamberlain, the Premier of England, to have a last talk to see if they can bring about a peaceful solution. This in my opinion about it, is that Hitler has got the wind up.
Frid. 30th Sept., 1938.
At the time of writing this note, there is great rejoicing all over the World, because the four Great Powers namely Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain have come to an agreement over the Czech problem, so at the last minute, War has been averted.
Wed., 15th March, 1939.
Dear Christine. I have made this entry in this book to let you see how things are going on in the World. Hitler of Germany has broken the agreement with this country and he is marching into Czechoslovakia. This man is causing a lot of trouble but he will get what he is asking for before long. Love Dad.
Friday, April 7th, Good Friday, 1939.
Mussolini, the dictator of Italy, invaded Albania. Things are in a terrible state. We do not know which way things are going to turn out. Love Dad.
Mon. 17th April, 1939.
We had a letter from school asking us if we would consent to Christine being evacuated in the event of war. We said “no”. We are going to keep you with us. Love Dad.
Aug. 24th, 1939.
Dear Christine. At the time of writing this, there is another crisis. This time it is between Poland and Germany. It looks very much as if there will be a war before the week is out; so if war does come, always remember that I will always love you and your mother to my last day of my life, so always stick to your mother and do as she tells you. Love Dad.
Tues. 29th Aug. 1939.
Mother took Christine away to Eastbourne to see if it would be all right for them there in case war came, but mother could not stand it and came home. All school children are being evacuated tomorrow, Friday, 1st Sept. 1939, but we are sending you and mother to Harold and Fay’s at Hounslow. Things look very bad. Love Dad.
Fri. 1st Sept. 1939.
Christine and mother went to Hanworth to Harold and Fay’s for safety.
Fri. 1st Sept., 1939.
Germany invaded Poland.
Sunday, Sept. 3rd, 1939.
Great Britain and France declared War on Germany at 11 o’clock in the morning.
Friday, 8th Sept., 1939.
Christine and mother came back from Hanworth to be home with me. Love Dad.
Sunday, 17th Sept., 1939.
Russia invaded Poland.
Monday, Sept. 25th, 1939.
The war has now been on for four weeks and Poland has been smashed to pieces but they are a gallant little country and are still fighting to the last man which they said they would do. God help them. Love Dad.
Thursday, 30th Nov., 1939.
Christine went to be examined by doctor for her to be evacuated and was passed fit. You are to go on Saturday, 2nd December, 1939. Love Dad.
Thursday, 30th Nov., 1939.
Russia has invaded Finland. They are bombing the women and children. Love Dad.
Friday, 1st Dec., 1939.
We have made up our minds not to send Christine away. We are going to keep her with us as we cannot part with her. The trouble is, we love her too much to let her go to be looked after by other people. With love from your Mother and Dad.
Sunday, 31st Dec., 1939.
We all went to Church this afternoon for Old Year Out and New Year In service. We had to go early this year on account of the blackout. We have had another good year Christine, and we hope it will be as good in 1940. At the time of writing, the country has called up all men to the age 27, so my time is not far off, but we hope it will be all over before then. If I do have to go, stick fast to your mother. She is a good one to you. Love Dad.
Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 1940.
Dear Christine. Many things have happened since I last wrote in this book in regards to the war. But the funniest was when Hitler made a speech in Germany and he said he was going to be King of England on April 20th. Love Dad.
March 13th, 1940.
The war ended with Russia and Finland after many lives had been lost. Finland gave in much to my regret.
Tuesday, 9th April, 1940.
Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. Denmark did not resist but Norway is fighting back and we are going to her aid.
May 10th, 1940.
Germany invaded Holland and Belgium.
Monday, 10th June, 1940.
Italy declared war on England and France.
Wednesday, 9th Oct., 1940.
Dear Christine. A lot has happened since I last wrote in this book. We had a time bomb at the back of our shelter. We had to be evacuated from our home, but we are back home again now. But all us people in London now do is to sleep in our shelters. The sirens have just gone which is 7 o’clock and we will be here until 6 o’clock next morning but you can take it from me, Christine, we are having a rough time. Love Dad.
Thursday, 7th Nov., 1940.
Dear Christine. A lot has happened since I wrote in this book last. You have been away to Doncaster for this last three weeks and I can tell you I have never missed you so much in all my life. I don’t think that I could stand another three weeks like it. It might sound funny coming from me, but you can take it from me you are everything in the world to me so God Bless you and I hope He will take you through this awful war. So good night my dear. Love Daddy.
Wed. 11th Dec. 1940.
Dear Christine. This is one of the saddest days of my life. Your Grandma Pierce died at 7.15 p.m. after four weeks illness. She died of cancer and I can say she was a grand old lady aged 74 years. So good night my dear and I hope that we can pull through this war together. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 31st Dec., 1940
Dear Christine. This is the end of 1940, and I must say it has been a very bad year indeed in regards of the War. We were evacuated from our home on account of a time bomb. That night was the worst night we had. You slept all through it. Next time, we had all the windows of the house blown out and we have been sleeping in a shelter, but these lasts few nights it has been too cold. At this present, we are making the Italians run for their lives. Goodnight Daddy.
Sat. 11th Jan., 1941.
Dear Christine. I went Saturday, 11th Jan. to register for Military Service. I have asked to go in the R.A.F. Love Dad.
Wed. 12th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. I went up for my medical examination and was graded Grade III on account of my right eye, so it looks as if I shall be staying at home. I am very pleased in one way because I can stay with you and mother. At this present moment, we are going through bad raids and you are very good while they are on. Here’s hoping we can pull through to the end. Love Dad.
Thursday, 27th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. You have been unlucky and caught the scabies. It is a nasty complaint. It is picked up off other people. You see, owing to the life we have had to live through air raids, it could have been caught in the public shelter where we have been going to, or else at school. You can take it from me, it is no fault of your mother as she has always kept you so very clean, but mother is very worried about it. We have given you three sulphur baths and another one tomorrow, and we hope it will be all gone. Will close now as you are waiting for me to play with you. Goodnight my love. Dad.
Saturday, 29th March, 1941.
Dear Christine. I have just had my papers sent to me to fill in to go in the munition factory. Hope I can get out of it, so I can look after you and mother. Love Dad.
Wednesday, 16th April, 1941.
Dear Christine. Last night was the worst that we have had to go through in regards to air raids. It started at 9 a.m. and went on until 5 a.m. next morning and air planes were over all the time and they have done a lot of damage. Our house suffered quite a lot. It was done by a land mine. The whole of King Street Hammersmith shops were a proper wreck next morning. I hope that we do not have to go through another night like it. Our airmen went to Berlin last night and gave them a taste of their own medicine. With lots of love from Dad and Mother.
Tuesday, 14th Oct., 1941.
Dear Christine. The war at the very moment is raging in Russia where they are fighting for their very lives and the bloodshed there is unspeakable. The Jerrys are getting a bit more than they asked for. The fighting is raging around Moscow which is the capital and we are all praying that the Russians can keep them outside, so they will get the full blast of the winter. While this war has been on, old Jerry has left us alone in London, and we are all hoping that they don’t start again. Love Dad.
Wednesday, 31st Dec., 1941.
Uncle Alf came home on a 48 hours leave and had the Old Year Out and New Year in with us. Love Dad.
Dear Christine. This is the end of the year l941, and I must say that we have been through quite a lot together, and we must thank the Lord Almighty for our safety. We have had some near misses with bombs from Jerry, but the tide is turning and Jerry is getting a nasty hiding from the Russians and our men in Libya. I must say that all through these raids you have been a very brave girl. All my best love from Dad.
Thursday, March 19th, 1942.
Dear Christine. Uncle Harold went into the Army to-day in the R.A.C.S. He has got to go to Wiltshire. At this very moment, the Russians are fighting the Jerrys very hard and are driving them back. We have got a lot to thank them for. Love Dad.
Friday, 26th June, 1942.
Dear Christine. Things are not going very well with the war. We have lost a big battle in Libya and 23,000 of our men have been taken prisoners and now the battle of Egypt has just started. We are all hoping we can make a stand there and hold them. Will write more later. Love Daddy.
Friday, 17th July, 1942.
Dear Christine. To-day is your birthday and I must say you had a very good time indeed. Mother worked very hard and made cakes and mince pies and everything you could eat. You would not think there was a war on. As a matter of fact, Hitler sent his bombers over and the sirens went just as you were having your party that was 4.30 p.m. and it was the first time we’d had them in months. But since then, we have had them six times this week, but no bombs near us. We close now. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 15th November, 1942.
Dear Christine. To-day is a great day for rejoicing. The Church bells were rung all over the country to announce the Victory of our 8th Army in Egypt. Our boys are smashing the Germans back and they are on the run which is great news for us. More news later. Love Daddy.
Saturday, 16th Jan., 1943.
Dear Christine. Last night our boys went and bombed Berlin and started some big fires.
Sunday, 17th Jan., 1943.
So Jerry came over here to-night. Started at 8.20 until 10 o’clock. The gunfire was heavy. You have just gone to bed. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 20th January, 1943.
Dear Christine. Some German raiders came over this morning and dropped bombs on a school. There were 45 children found dead up till now and 12 more still missing. The school was at Lewisham. Love Daddy.
Monday, 29th March, 1943.
Dear Christine. General Montgomery who is in charge of our 8th Army has smashed his way through the Mareth Line which the Germans held. This is a big victory for us. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 6th April, l943.
Dear Christine. Your Uncle Alf came home on leave for 11 days before going overseas. We had a good time together. Uncle went back on Monday, 5th April. We all went up to the Station with him. The train left at 9.20 p.m. and it was very upsetting to see them go, so let us pray to God he will come back to us all safely. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 12th May, 1943.
Dear Christine. At 8.15 last night, the fighting in North Africa has ended. The Germans and Italians have been bashed to bits. Up to now there are 150,000 prisoners, 250 tanks, 1000 guns and a lot more stuff to come in. Alexander was the General in charge of the men in the field with Montgomery and Anderson. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 5th June, 1943.
Christine. A German aeroplane came over last night and dropped bombs and one was very close to us. We thought it was our last. It came so near, Mother and I dropped on the bedroom floor beside your bed thinking it was going to hit us, but we were lucky. So here’s hoping we remain lucky until it is all over. Love Daddy.
Friday, July 9th, 1943.
Dear Christine. The British troops and Canadian with American troops have invaded Sicily. It started at 10.15 on Friday with Air-bourne troops, but the real invasion started at 3 o’clock on the Saturday morning. Up till now, things are going well. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy. 2000 boats took part.
Dear Christine. The invasion of Sicily which I wrote about a little way back is all over. We have beaten the Germans again and it was another Dunkirk for them. There is another big move coming off. Will let you know as soon as it happens. Love Daddy.
Friday, 3rd September, 1943.
Dear Christine. British and 8th Army and Canadian troops invaded Italy this morning at 3.45 a.m. Everything is going well. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 8th September, 1943.
Dear Christine. I have great news for you. The Italian Government has given in and accepted our terms of unconditional surrender, so Italy is now out of the War. Now for the Germans. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, 13th September, 1943.
Dear Christine. Italy has declared War on Germany. It seems strange as Italy and the Germans were dear old pals. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Saturday, 1st January, 1944.
Dear Christine. The old year has gone and I must say that we had a very good year considering that the war is still on. But 1943 has left us with great victories and I might say the turning point of the war. Only last night, the R.A.F. dropped 1,000 tons of bombs on Berlin and our boys are waiting to invade and they are saying that this year will be the last of this war. I hope so. Our Christmas dinner was chicken, three lumps of pork, Christmas pudding, mince pies – not bad after nearly five years of war. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 20th February, 1944.
Dear Christine. We had a very bad air raid last night. It is one of the worst we have had round this District, high explosives and time bombs, but I prayed to God to take us safely through and He did. We wish this war would end as it is just as bad for the German people as it is for us. Love Daddy.
Wednesday, February, 23rd, 1944.
Dear Christine. Last night the Germans came over and raided London and we had a bad night. Bombs dropped all round us and I am sorry to say that your Great Aunt Ada was killed this night and her daughter was trapped for 22 hours and she was got out alive, but her husband was killed also. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 5th April, 1944.
Dear Christine. Your Uncle Geoff went into the Army to-day. He was 41 years sent to Bradford in Yorkshire. I do not know what regiment he is going into yet. Love Daddy.
Monday, 5th June, 1944.
Dear Christine. Our troops of the 8th Army and American 5th Army have entered Rome, the capital of Italy. It is a great victory for us. We have taken over 20,000 prisoners and we are still driving the Germans back. The General in charge is Alexander. Love Daddy.
Tuesday, 6th June, 1944.
Dear Christine. To-day is the biggest day in our history. Our Armies have landed in France. There were over 4,000 ships took part and over 11,000 aircraft. The landing took place at 6 o’clock this morning. The air-bourne troops landed first and I think you Uncle Alf is in it. Will let you know more as news comes in. Love Daddy.
Friday, 23rd June, 1944.
Dear Christine. Last night was the worst night we have been through. Jerry sent one of the pilotless planes over and bombed our home flat to the ground. We were very lucky that your mother and myself were not killed, but we must thank God he was watching over us and took us safely through. So we will have to make a new home after the war. I must say you were very brave right through. Good night love. God bless you. Love Daddy.
(My parents left the safety of the air-raid shelter whilst the air-raid was on so that my father could go to the toilet and my mother to make a hot drink. They returned to the shelter just as the doodlebug exploded).
Monday, 17th July, 1944.
Dear Christine. To-day is your 10th birthday and what a day you have had. We held your party on the old bomb site of our home and the Daily Mirror reporter came down and took photos of it. We are waiting for the paper to come out. Everybody had a wonderful time. You had 17 cards and lots of money presents. Also you were a very good girl and very helpful. The flybombs are still coming over. Good Bye. Love Daddy.
August 1st, 1944.
Dear Christine. This month has been the best we have had in this war. We have driven the Germans out of Normandy and France and are into Holland and Belgium and we are just about to start the Battle of Germany. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Sat. 2nd September, 1944.
Uncle Harold went to France. Will let you know more later. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 7th Sept., 1944.
Dear Christine. Uncle Alf came back from France safe and sound. Love Daddy.
Friday, 8th September, 1944.
Dear Christine. The Germans are sending rockets over at us now as well as fly bombs. The first one dropped in Chiswick and the second one at Kew and we have had a lot more since. They are worse than the fly bombs because you can’t hear them coming. We still go to the shelter at night. Love Daddy.
8th January, 1945.
Dear Christine. At the time of writing this letter, there is a big battle going on. The Germans have broken through the American lines and the British have been rushed up to stop them. Well your Uncle Alf is in that battle. They are called Monty’s Red Devils. This cutting from the paper will tell you all. Love Daddy.
Monty’s Red Devils Are There
Played a Big Part
The British Sixth Airbourne Divisiion, the “Red Devils” are fighting in the Ardennes as part of the British force thrown in to plug the German breakthrough. They played a big part in the capture of Bure.
The men of the Sixth Division were about to eat their Christmas dinner when their orders came.
An officer told me, ‘We were simply told ‘You’ll be in the Ardennes tomorrow. Within three days of the first word we were at grips with the Germans”.
Wednesday, 14th February, 1945.
Dear Christine. To-day is a very sad day again for us. The Germans who are firing rockets at us dropped one very near us. It shook the life out of the place. You were in bed, mother sitting by the fire and the rocket came. It was at 10 o’clock at night. Well my love, it came and fell on your Uncle Fred’s home and killed him and your Auntie Mary, cousins Peter, Jean and the baby. It wiped the whole family out. We hope that we pull safely through as we have gone through enough already. Love Daddy.
Sat. 24th Feb. 1945.
Dear Christine. Your cousin Joan got married to-day to an American officer in the 8th Air Force. You were to have been her bridesmaid, but owing to your Uncle Fred’s family waiting to be buried, you could not be it, but we went to the party and had a nice time in a quiet way. Joan was only 18 years old. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 25th Feb. 1945.
Your Uncle Alf has just this minute come home from Holland from the battle front. He will be coming round here to-night. Love Daddy.
Monday, 26th February, 1945.
Your Uncle Fred’s family were buried to-day at Hammersmith Cemetary.
Tuesday, May 8th, 1945.
Dear Christine. This day is the greatest in our history. The War is over with Germany. We have beaten them to their knees and God has answered our prayers and taken us safely through. We have been to the Hammersmith Broadway singing and dancing. It is something you will not forget and that has gone on for all the week until one and two in the morning. Love Daddy.
Sunday, 13th May, 1945.
Dear Christine. We went to the Strand in London to see the King and Queen. You had a good view of the Princesses, King Peter and the King of Norway, King of Denmark, Queen Mary and Mr. Churchill. Love Daddy.
Thursday, 21st June, 1945.
Dear Christine. This cutting from the paper shows you what the Londoners went through during the bombing of London which you were in all the time.
(See next page).
Live Letters Daily Mirror
Letter from an American Gentleman
From Mr. J. R. Crane, an American now over here:
Your paper will, I know, assist me in paying tribute to the people of London – the world’s mightiest people. I am an American soldier, soon to leave this great city for another theatre of war, but I will take with me everlasting memories and pictures of an unconquerable race.
I shall remember, always, the faces of two little children in Stepney, who shepherded my panic stricken body into a shelter as a flying-bomb shattered houses and human flesh into a pulp not fifty yards away; of a pianist in a public-house, in a side street off your bomb-splattered Lambeth Walk, whose rhythm on the keys offered a challenge to the hate and fury of yet another savage Hitler onslaught to break the backbone of the tough London populace.
I shall remember Mr. And Mrs. X, of Brixton, who made me share the comforts of their modest house on my days of leave; and Edna, my London sweetheart, who, until unseen death in the form of a rocket took her from me was to become my wife.
If I survive the next episode in the quest for peace, and return home, I shall always say to myself – “The debt the world owes to you people of London will never be paid. It cannot be paid. The price is too high. God bless you all.”
To you, Mr. Crane, who, because of a London blitz, must now walk alone, we say only, “Thank you and God bless.”
As I close my father’s notebook, I am full of deep emotion. At the age of 70 years, I have to confess that I have broken down in tears many times whilst typing my father’s messages to me, written between 60 and 65 years ago. I was fortunate to have two loving parents, and I pay tribute to them both.
Christine S. Cuss nee Pierce 26th August, 2004.
Contributed originally by Mike Hazell (BBC WW2 People's War)
By 1956 I was offered the chance to work on the Green Lines and I was in seventh heaven. No more running up and down stairs, the Green Lines were all single deck RF coaches then, and no more rushing to get fares in either. People only used the coaches to do longer journeys because the minimum fare was high in relation to the bus fares and with plenty of buses on the road; no-one caught a coach for short journeys. So the job was easier and the pay slightly higher, no wonder there was a waiting list to work on Green Lines. Your name didn’t even get on the list if you had a bad record so coach crews did tend to consider themselves just a wee bit superior to bus workers although we, at Staines, never soared to the dizzy heights as at Windsor Garage where a whole row of tables alongside the windows and radiators were reserved for coach crews while bus crews were expected to sit over the other side which was cold and draughty in winter and stifling hot in summer!
The regular passengers using Green Line coaches were different too — not better, just different. The rush hours tended to begin later, being comprised mostly of people working in offices and West End shops, business people, managers, stock brokers and the self employed. Many belonged to what we would call “the bowler hat brigade”, hailing the coach with a raised umbrella or dispatch case. We had one driver who loathed being waved to in this manner and his conductor got fed up with the driver moaning about it too. So, one day at a request stop in Knightsbridge, they slowed up to the unsuspecting gentleman holding out his copy of “The Times”, the conductor put out his hand, took the newspaper and the coach sped on its way leaving the city gent fuming on the pavement. Not that it was always easy to guess a man’s occupation by his manner of dress. One of my favourite passengers looked like a stoke broker, always carrying a smart, black dispatch case. He travelled regularly to Town for years till one day he opened his case and showed me the contents; several tobacco tins full of coloured chalks and a large homely packet of sandwiches. He was a pavement artist who had earned an income high enough to enable him to live in the “stock broker belt” and travel up to his pitch every day. His neighbours believed him to be a solicitor — which I suppose he was in a way.
I preferred the 701/702 roads best. There was so much to see going through London every day and more interesting characters among the passengers too. All the regular crews got to know the actor who lived in Bedfont — he always played a “heavy” with a mid-European accent and had a very good line in sly leers. I wouldn’t be surprised if he originated that well worn phrase, “Ve haf ways of makink you talk” because that was just the sort of character he usually portrayed. In actual fact he was a charming man and used to sit on the coach reading his script and I still smile, remembering the time a woman sitting across the aisle asked me whether he was “peculiar” because of the evil expressions that flitted across his face while he was reading! Not wishing to reveal his identity and subject him to the attentions of all the film fans on the coach I told her to sit on the back seat and I would keep an eye on him. He was recognised a couple of times while travelling home and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him being obliged to sign autographs and answer dozens of questions when he so obviously wanted to study in peace. Another actor was starring in a series on the television and played the handsome, debonair hero forever rescuing the damsel in distress and engaging in fist fights while remaining cool as a cucumber. Sad to say, he was irritable, petulant and terrified if the driver tried to speed up a little in an attempt to keep to the timetable — the very last person I would want around in any kind of crisis. He must have been a very good actor, though — it never showed through on the screen.
The responsibility for time keeping on the road is shared between the driver and the conductor and it isn’t an easy job to keep the vehicle on time, especially through London. By the time we had been stuck in traffic jams through Chiswick, Hammersmith, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner and Victoria we were frequently up to an hour late and if the driver didn’t push the coach along through the rest of the journey we would arrive at Gravesend with only a few minutes of our meal relief left. Union rules and police regulations dictate that a driver must have at least thirty minutes away from the driving seat which meant that a late arrival at Gravesend resulted in a late departure on the return journey. You couldn't win a race against time like that and still do the job properly.
In contrast, the very early and late journeys would seem endless — we had to cruise along so slowly that the passengers would sometimes get impatient and complain that we were deliberately running late. We used to hang about at compulsory stops, pull up to the side of the road at public toilets, engage a passenger in conversation as he or she was alighting -—anything to waste a few minutes that would prevent us arriving at a turning point early enough to be booked. We were allowed a leeway of two minutes and on Winter Sundays all the stops approaching Victoria would have a Green Line parked up, out of sight, losing time before arriving at Eccleston Bridge which was our London Terminus. The drivers used to curse the traffic lights at all hours of the day and night — they were always showing red when we were desperately trying to catch up lost time and green when we were anxious to lose it. For the most part the road inspectors were very understanding. They had almost invariably been drivers themselves earlier in their careers and knew how difficult it was to keep strictly to the timetable. Of course, drivers varied in their approach to the job and a few would deliberately run late so that they could claim overtime at the end of every day. The rate for all overtime has always been time and a half and a daily docket for an hour would amount to seven and a half extra hours pay every Friday.
For the most part, I have been very lucky with my regular drivers who did their best to run by the timetable. One such was Roy, a good, steady driver, conscientious, courteous and an excellent mate but the timing of the vehicle obsessed him to such an extent that he not only checked on our own progress every ten minutes along the road but also other Green Lines we met coming the other way. I thought his wife was joking when she told me she gave him a new leather strap for his pocket watch every Christmas but I subsequently discovered it was quite true, he pulled that watch from his top pocket so often in the course of a day’s work that the strap became quite ragged and worn by the following November. Dear Roy — I was sorry to lose him but I returned to work after my holiday one year to find that he had transferred to a vacant place on the coach rota. Another conductor told me later that Roy was worrying so much at my habit of signing on at the last moment that his fear of running late was threatening to give him a peptic ulcer. He retired some years ago and, presumably, he and his watch enjoy a well-earned rest.
Cliff, however, was a real maverick: transferred from Central Buses when he moved into the Staines area, he thought Country Buses were very slow and tame after the more hectic work in London’s traffic and was overjoyed when he was transferred to Green Lines and took Roy’s place on the rota. No two drivers could have been more different — working a journey through Town in the rush hours with Cliff became a cross between a tank assault course and a Cavalry charge. He really was an excellent driver who knew the length and width of those old RF coaches down to the last inch; he would slide through gaps in the traffic which didn’t look wide enough to allow the safe passage of a mini car and I swear there was often barely the width of a postage stamp between us and the rest of the traffic as we sailed through. He took short cuts through side streets, jumped traffic lights and we went two miles off route chasing a lorry whose driver had the temerity to “carve him up” at Hammersmith Broadway. The six months I spent with Cliff put years on me but, oddly enough, most of the regulars enjoyed riding with him. He could be curt, even downright rude, with those passengers who did not realise that he was doing his best to get them to their destinations on time and accused him of reckless driving or giving them an uncomfortable ride. But he had a very soft spot for the elderly and old ladies adored him as he was always at his most charming with them. Our friendship continued beyond working hours and Bill and I frequently went to his house for an evening of playing cards and the two men would talk “shop” while Cliff’s pretty, young wife and I served up refreshments and chatted about bus work too, but in relation to what ill effects it could have on family life.
With men and girls working together for eight hours every day and sometimes far into the night, there were bound to be some marital problems among the staff and Staines Garage was neither better nor worse than any other. With the cost of living and living standards themselves constantly rising, more and more wives started to go out to work, and this created a situation where working times of the two jobs clashed to such an extent that married couples spent very little time together; when a driver was on late turn his wife would get up and go off to her own job, often leaving him still in bed and having to cook his own meals before leaving for work himself in the early afternoon. By the time his duty had finished it might be midnight and his wife and children already fast asleep in bed. This state of affairs would result in a man seeing far more of his conductor than he did his own family, and when that conductor was a pretty, young girl the result was almost inevitable. Sometimes the outcome of such entanglements was tragic and at other times highly comical — at least from the viewpoint of those of us who watched the game from the sidelines as it were. Suspicious wives would lurk around the garage or take to riding on their husband’s buses in an attempt to ward off the opposition — and gossip was rife.
After Cliff left, to return to living and working in London again, I was approached by one driver who had been working with a jolly girl in her late teens and asked me if he could come and work with me instead. I was rather puzzled at the time as he and his former mate seemed to get on so well, but I knew he was a good driver and easy to get along with so I agreed. Within days he told me why he had decided to change rotas. Some dear, kind soul had told his wife that he was having an affair with his young conductor and his life at home had been hell ever since. It wasn’t very flattering to think that he had decided that working with me would solve his problems and I didn’t relish the prospect of coming to work to be confronted by an irate wife, but I did feel sorry for him and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately for me, I must be a perfect mother or sister figure for I found myself listening to many tales of various drivers’ private lives over the years — in fact one, who worked with me over a period of five years or more, frequently called me “Auntie Doris” and the name stuck. Perhaps I should feel flattered in a way after all?
In any case, I settled down with Harry quite easily — he was a happy-go-lucky man in his early fifties — already a proud grandfather and we both hoped that his change of conductor would have the desired effect on his home life. I never actually met his wife so presumably she must have received some pretty unflattering reports about my appearance and decided that I constituted no danger to her. For a few weeks all went well, Harry and I would chat about our children — his being a lot older than my own were at that time, about bus work — he had several years more service than I had too and we swapped stories about passengers and other crews and generally got on together quite well. Till the day came he put his name down for rest day working and found he had been given a duty with his former conductor.
I suppose a wiser man would have turned down the duty, but he had volunteered for rest day work because he needed the extra money and decided to do it anyway and say nothing to his wife. A few days later the storm broke and life became hell again. It was almost certainly another member of staff who stirred up the trouble by gossiping again and I can only hope that the result of his actions didn’t trouble his conscience too much. Deciding that life at home had become unbearable Harry finally left his family — there was a divorce and he returned to his former mate again and they eventually married. When she left to have a child I worked with Harry again for a few months. He was quite happy with his young wife but distressed that some of his children saw only his first wife’s side of the problem and cut themselves off from him altogether. Added to this was his fear that the age gap between himself and his second wife might cause her to be left with a young family if anything untoward happened to him. They had three children over the next few years and then his worst fears were realised and a series of heart attacks finally caused his death and his young family had a very lean time of it until the children left school and were able to go out to work. I met his widow only a few weeks ago and we chatted about old times — she misses Harry dreadfully and no one has taken his place yet.
Another romance that caused quite a stir in Staines Garage at the time involved a good looking young bachelor driver and a very attractive girl — a Staines conductor. Perhaps I should explain that bus and coach crews came into contact with several other garage canteens — including the Alder Valley canteen in High Wycombe, the Country Bus canteens at Windsor, Dartford and Northfleet and Central Bus canteens at Victoria and Thornton Heath. The driver fell in love with our young conductor when she used the canteen at his garage and decided to transfer to Staines to get to know her better. He was somewhat disconcerted to discover that she not only had several boy friends at our garage but ardent admirers in every other canteen we used. The atmosphere grew rather tense for some months and rumour had it that not a few fights broke out between the newcomer and the locals till the lass finally solved the problem by transferring to Northfleet and marrying a driver down there. The rivals became the best of friends and peace reigned in Staines once again.
Other romances blossomed and died over the years, few culminating in weddings between crewmembers, but one wife in particular solved her marital problem in a very neat way. She told her driver husband that she had got a new job and duly left home every morning at 7.30 a.m. arriving home again around 6.30 each evening. This went on for a couple of weeks until the day came when she arrived at the garage in uniform and reported for duty. I wasn’t around in the garage that day but I’d love to have seen the expression on his face when she walked into the canteen while he was having a cup of tea with the object of his affections. To cap it all, it has always been the policy of the Transport Board to put married couples on the same duties unless specifically requested otherwise: the husband decided that discretion was the better part of valour and accepted the inevitable. Within a few days they were acting like a couple of turtle doves — he was so proud of her strategy that he was the one who would tell newcomers about it. They stayed at the garage together for several years before leaving the job when they moved out of the district.
Contributed originally by Geoff Cronin (BBC WW2 People's War)
I was born in Hammersmith, West London on August 7th 1938, just one year before war broke out, and yet I do have very vivid memories of the war in London. I have good memories of my childhood from a very early age (I can remember being in a pram for instance). War was the norm. And yet I was only 6 when it finished!
It was “normal” to hear the anti-aircraft guns going off night after night. To hear the crumph of bombs as they fell. I remember thinking that the people making all that noise must be very naughty. And in the morning one of my tasks was to go and clear up the shrapnel from the garden to prevent the dog (Shandy) from cutting his feet on it.
It was “normal” to see the inside of houses, with tables and chairs, pictures on the walls, household clutter and ornaments on the fireplaces, but no front to the house, the floors hanging in space.
As well as Mum and Dad at home (dad was an air raid warden, and an insurance agent in these days before National Insurance), I had a brother who was 8 years older than me. We read of the exploits of our RAF pilots and they were our heroes. We played with home made wooden model aeroplanes or sometimes Dinky Toys of Spitfires and Hurricanes, and made loud “aeer” sounds as we weald them out in our living room.
It was “normal” to see my parent’s faces worried sick as they put shutters up to the windows of our house in Hammersmith Grove to stop blast damaged glass coming in.
I can also clearly remember the underground trains all having sticky paper on the windows, with a little diamond shape you could see through, all to stop the bomb blast showering people with glass.
It was “normal” to be woken by the air raid siren warning of a raid and to be taken down to our Anderson shelter. There it was a smell of damp earth, the noise of the raid and the playing a wind up gramophone until the all clear went. Often, there had been a lot of noise, many bombs had fallen nearby, and I remember more than once mother saying “I wonder if our house is still there”.
Sometimes the air raids took place in the daytime, and I can also remember the sound as wave after wave of Dornier Bombers flew overhead. They mad a very distinctive droning noise. I later learnt that this was because they had Diesel engines.
As they went on their way, people would breath a sigh of relief and pity “the poor buggers who were going to get it”.
A bit later in the war, the doodle bugs (V1 flying bombs) came over, and again everyone held there breath to see if they would go passed. If the engine stopped, you just hit the pavement, because you knew (even at 4 years old) that it would come down any second. At about this time my mother, brother and I were sent off by my father to stay in digs in Winnersh, a suburb of Reading. In those days it was very rural, and I have many happy memories of some friends we made there, who lived in a cottage, with a privy “out the back”. The ladies husband was a prisoner of the Japanese, and her eldest son (all of 14) was the man of the house, who had to clean out the cesspit from time to time. No gas mask, just a handkerchief over his nose! When not so occupied I can remember some very exciting games of cowboys and Indians in the woods at the back of the cottage.
Back in Hammersmith in those days no one I knew had a fridge. We all shopped every day for the essentials that our ration could provide. The United Dairies, Mr Hook the Butcher (my mother was a friend of Mrs Hook, and often used to help make the sausages), and Babs who ran the sweet shop, although sweets were all rationed. She also sold newspapers, but as I couldn’t read, I remember it more as a sweet shop! When our ration allowed, a purchased Mars Bar (4d) was cut up into small slices, and you were only allowed one slice per day! The occasional boiled sweets were very carefully placed in a tourine for mother to ration out as she saw fit.
We had a radio, in the early part of the war this was battery powered with a small lead acid battery that was called an “accumulator”. When it ran out of energy, we had to take it to our local radio shop for it to be recharged. Later in the war, we graduated to a mains powered job. One of the programs we all used to listen to was by the comedian Tommy Handley “ITMA”, which was short for “Its That Man Again”. We all knew the catchphrases “TTFN” ta ta fer na! And “Can I do yer na sir?” from Mrs mop his cleaner and I can still remember one of his jokes about a Mr Yank it Out, the American Dentist. Another program we all listened to was about the detective Paul Temple, with its signature tune (The Flying Scotsman?).
Because coal was also rationed, the winters always felt cold. We usually had one fire going, and all lived in that room. The front room only got heated up for Christmas!
I shared a bedroom with my brother. It was at the top of the house at the back. One night the cold water tank in that room burst, because it was so cold! Washing in those days would be considered perfunctory by modern standards. The only heat in the bathroom being provided by a small electric heater giving off as much heat as a light bulb to stop the pipes freezing. The daily ablution was done at the kitchen sink!
We had a 3-story house, and Dad let out some of the rooms. I remember a soldier on leave, giving me his chocolate. There was also a Sunderland Pilot living with us from time to time (probably staying with another more resident resident!). He survived through to VE day, but got killed before VJ day. He certainly didn’t think the war was glamorous, and I can clearly remember his reluctance to go off to fight the Japanese.
All through my childhood the only time we had oranges was at Christmas, and until the war ended I didn’t know what a Banana was! Or ice cream!
The funny thing about all of this traumatic time is that, as a child, it was all so normal. I didn’t feel underprivileged or hard done by. Yes, I would have like more sweets, and I didn’t like whale meat (did anyone?). But I don’t really remember feeling hunger. There are advantages to a coal fire as well. You can watch all the burning embers, the glowing soot, and imagine all kinds of things - Soldiers fighting (not this war of course, they were always knights in armour) and dragons breathing out the fire. You could also toast bread on it (on the end of a long fork) and boil a kettle.
My schooling started towards the end of the war, but was interrupted because I got scarlet fever, and developed an ear problem known as a mastoid. So I spent some time in Fulham Fever Hospital. Not wonderfully child friendly! When I got out, I was sent away to a convalescent home. This I believe to have been in Kent, so I didn’t see my parents very often. D Day took place whilst I was there, and the nurses gathered us all together and someone made a little speech about the importance of the day, and about the liberation of Europe. It didn’t seem very important at the time to me, a 5 year old! But at the end of the war in Europe, when we had beaten the Germans, and Hitler was no longer a big bogeyman, we had a wonderful street party, with things horded from many different families rations. Jellies, and lots of cake, and Spam sandwiches and lemonade for us kids. I’m sure the adults had something slightly stronger to drink! But we all remembered to take our bottles back to the shop from where they were bought, because for every bottle returned we got a penny back.
Today, perhaps we throw too much away, and I don’t just mean the bottles either.
Contributed originally by John E. Forbat (BBC WW2 People's War)
As air raids seemed to be declining after three years of evacuation, it was agreed that I should go back home to London permanently - as it turned out, just in time for a resumption of regular night raids.
Now aged fourteen and no longer so puny, I obtained the steel helmet and Fire Guard armband that was obligatory for Fire Guards in the six-storey block of flats where we now lived. This involved patrolling the corridors to check for incendiary bombs and more interestingly, standing on the flat roof above the sixth floor, to watch the search lights pick out bombers and to see the anti aircraft shells bursting. Regular training and practice in the art of extinguishing incendiary bombs with the piddling jet from a stirrup pump in a bucket of water, taught us to crawl below the smoke and to direct the jet, holding the hose over our heads while another pumped, till the bucket was empty.
I was ready to go to bed one evening some hours before my watch duty time, when a raid was going ding dong, as I looked out to the North, with the black out curtains behind me. A stick of bombs started whistling towards us, each a little nearer and when the whistling reached shrieking level, I ducked back behind the curtain. The bomb fell a short distance away and the window I had been looking through shredded the curtain near my stomach. Soon the Chief of our Fireguard section was ringing our doorbell.
"John, take this pink form to the Auxiliary Fire Station at Beaufort Street School and tell them we need them to put out a fire on the corner of Gliddon Road. We already pulled an old lady out - except she insisted on going back for her false teeth. Be quick now."
By now having my own bike, earned by tilling Uncle Eugene's allotment for a shilling a day, I donned my "tin hat" and clutching the pink form, sped the half mile along North End Road, over never ending broken glass. When I arrived, the school itself was well alight and I was told to go back - they were busy putting out their own fire. I made the return ride over the glass, somehow without the tyres going flat and the fire in Gliddon Road just continued to burn.
I was sometimes late for school. Everybody was sometimes and at assembly, after the Headmaster had announced who had been killed in the previous night's raid, the late boys were paraded for their punishment.
I must have been fifteen when the Doodlebug flying bombs began to rain down at all hours. One of the first passed right over our heads as my brother Andrew and I were cycling into Kent one Friday evening for one of our many weekend Scout camps. The A2 ran dead straight southeast and the throaty ramjet roared ever louder as it approached to fly right overhead. Flak was bursting all around it - quite a spectacular show - till the shrapnel started to bounce off the pavement around us and we ducked into a doorway, later burning our fingers on the hot shards.
On the way home on Sunday, we passed the Streatham house of a good friend who was old enough to have been called up for Service. Their front door was missing and all their windows were blown in, so Mrs Randall asked us to go to her sister who lived near us in London, to tell her they were OK. We got back onto our bikes and passed the cause of the Randalls' damage - a whole block of houses flattened by a single Doodlebug, leaving little more than a big crater. We cycled on past our flats towards the Randalls' relatives in Hammersmith and racing south as the sirens wailed, we heard another throaty roar rapidly approaching. We had been trained to lie down in the gutter with our hands covering our heads and to wait until the engine cut. The Doodlebugs then pitched down to dive onto wherever they were pointing. It cut out very close to us, so we dived for the kerb and waited.
A great mushroom cloud rose where it had hit in the next street and we got back up. Before we could pass on the Randalls' message, Andrew who had started medical school by then tarried to render First Aid.
In the months while the Doodlebug campaign persisted, the air raid sirens sounded just about every few minutes, it seemed. Most people dived into air raid shelters - often down into the Underground, where at night many slept on the platforms. But as many Doodlebugs came during the day as at night and while our flats had a big basement that was used as a shelter, we boys only used it to practice our table tennis, while it was otherwise unused. As Mother found out only after the War was over, being up on the roof was more exciting during air raids.
The frequency of air raid warnings got so high, that taking heed would completely prevent all normal activity and for the first time in my school days, I determined never to be late. No way was I going to let Hitler dominate my life any longer! Air raid warning or not, I rode to Sloane School and thumbing my nose at Hitler, arrived on time without fail every day. When the V2 rockets began to fall, there was no warning and no way to hide anyway. Once you heard the explosion - followed by the whine of its supersonic arrival, it was obvious that some other poor bastard had bought it.
If only I could be a couple of years older - I would have given my right arm to fly a Spitfire like some of my brother's friends.
Contributed originally by WMCSVActionDesk (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was submitted to the Peoples War site by Anastasia Travers from CSV Action Desk on behalf of Ashley Leather and has been added to the site with his permission. Ashley Leather fully understands the sites terms and conditions.
1st and 2nd parts of Starborad Watch were stationed in the R.N.Barracks at Chatham. We were on weekend leave from 12 midday Saturday to 07.00 hours Monday. There was insufficient time to travel to my home in Ossett (West Yorkshire) so my pal Jeff Clements whose home was in Annerly (London suburb) invited me to go home with him. On arrival his mother immediately informed us there was a rumour that the Glen Miller Orchestra might be passing through London on the way back to an American airbase. The destination and time was not known but she thought that the Hammersmith Palaise seemed a likely venue.
After tea we duly set forth, I hadn’t a clue which direction I was travelling, just trusted Jeff to lead the way. People were gathering in small groups so the whispers had travelled far and wide. Eventually a large coach (American style) was seen approaching. A band with instruments at the ready soon piled into the Palaise and straight onto the stage. With their attractive vocalists and their overcoats still on, it soon began to feel like a Wembley football crowd.
No sooner had the orchestra struck up with ‘In the Mood’ I grabbed the young lady standing beside me and pulled her quickly onto the floor with the words ‘come on girl lets make history’. ‘Wha Eah’ (typical cockney girl) she replied. We only managed to dance once around the floor but it was of no consequence. We had danced to the music of the Glen Miller Orchestra. I said to the girl ‘stand still where you are and don’t attempt to move off, you won’t get on the floor again.’ Dancing was now impossible due to the increase in crowd. Within 45 minutes the Orchestra waved the crowd goodbye. I dragged the girl to the nearest exit and we were able to watch the Orchestra mount the coach steps one by one with a smile and half salute/wave from each member.
I believe this route of the orchestra was a deliberate attempt to raise people’s morale. On reflection, so much for the slogan ‘careless talk costs lives.’ I was pleased to think that my impulse to pull a young lady onto the dance floor had given her an experience to talk of for the rest of her life.
Contributed originally by CSV Solent (BBC WW2 People's War)
(Based on her history as told to her grand-daughter.)
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Ken on behalf of Nancy Deacon and has been added to the site with her permission. Nancy Deacon fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
“I didn’t really want to go into the Wrens”.
Nancy was about to celebrate her 18th birthday early in 1942 when a choice between the women’s’ services became urgent. Since leaving school at 16 years of age, with Matriculation proudly achieved, she had been working in the administration staff at the local isolation hospital in Leicester. She knew that once past 18 she would become subject to the wartime regulations, called ‘Direction of Labour’, by which the government could say how and where you should be employed. That would mean staying at her present job, because it was classified as a ‘Reserved Occupation’. And Nancy felt she wanted to see a bit more of life than that promised. She said -
“You see, my life-long friend, Edna, was already in the WAAF and she was having a jolly good time, from what she said, so I wanted to join them. But from time to time, when they had more applicants for certain categories than they needed, they stopped recruiting, so for the moment I couldn’t do that.
“It was the same with the WRNS, but just at that time they were recruiting, so that is what I did. I volunteered for the WRNS. Well, the reason I didn’t fancy joining them was the black stockings they made you wear. Of course the ATS was always available but I decide on the WRNS, as my brother was on active service in the Royal Navy.”
Her first posting was to a basic training unit, which involved a lot of scrubbing of the stone floors of Tullichewan Castle in Scotland. At the end of that she was held back for further specialist instruction, as was Joyce Lisle, whom she met there. From then the two of them were to go through the service together and remain friends for life. They had been chosen for ‘Special Duties’ and their immediate destination was to a
London unit, and six more weeks of training.
“We didn’t know quite what was in store, tho’ we had some idea, as the Official Secrets Act’ was involved. At any rate, Joyce and I were taken by escort and seen onto a train at Glasgow Station, where we were put into an empty compartment and the door locked on us.
“The train began to fill up, with standing room only in the corridor. It was obviously a troop train and we eventually started south, but the journey wasn’t straight forward. With stoppages for alarms of bomb damaged lines ahead; shunting into sidings to allow other trains through and other reasons. At the time we did not know what was going on as we were completely isolated in our compartment. At night we had only the dim light from the one, blue, bulb allowed in the ‘blackout’, and during the day, because of the anti-splinter net on the windows, we couldn’t see much of the outside world. I have no memory of anything to eat.
“It was 6 p.m. when we were locked in at Glasgow, and it was 2 p.m. the next day when we were released at Euston Station, and taken, again under escort, to our London base.”
The six weeks of training which followed was to introduce them to the ‘art’ of code breaking.
“At the time we knew we were code breaking, but did not know how our work fitted into the whole operation. There were about 300 of us WRNS on this work, at the station.”
Many of the messages dealt with were of no use but others were of great importance, and -
“I remember being told that our work helped to sink the Bismark. I was proud to hear that. Because of the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act we weren’t allowed to tell anyone of the work we did then. Not even our families, and it had to be kept secret for 30 more years.
“Winston Churchill said we were his golden geese that never cackled”.
The code-breaking base was in a northern suburb of London, conveniently connected by underground railway (the ‘Tube’) to the centre of the capital. Nancy and Joyce made good use of that.
“When we were not on shift, that is off duty, Joyce and I would go as often as possible to London and its West-End. One of our favourite places was the Queensberry Club for servicemen and women. By this time the Americans were in the war and this was where all the famous stars would appear to entertain them, and all the other allied troops. I remember seeing Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Benny Goodman and his band, and
lots of others there. Not to mention our own ‘Forces Sweetheart’, Vera Lynn.”
From the start of the war London had filled up with representatives from every European and Commonwealth nation, joined later by the ‘Yanks’; with a confusion of uniforms and variety of languages on its streets. Bombing and blackout not withstanding, it was a vibrant scene. The place to be; particularly around its centre. At night, from the dark streets where they dodged cars and buses, with their merest glim of light from masked headlights, Nancy and Joyce would have to grope through a ‘light-lock’ to enter a cinema or theatre and come, dazzled, into a burst of light inside, and noise of people making the most of a chance to get away from the war for a little.
“Theatres and so on would send out free tickets to the forces for their shows, and our base received its share. Joyce and I took advantage of these and I remember one night, an air raid started while we were in a West End theatre. Our orders were to get back to our unit as quickly as possible if this happened, so out we went to get the Piccadilly line tube. Everything was OK until we came to the above ground section at West
Kensington station, when there were lots of stops and starts and long delays. Being in the open the carriage lights had been reduced to the familiar blue bulb, and we could hear the sounds of the raid going on around us. Eventually, with the train stopped we were all led through carriage after carriage and ended up at Hammersmith station.
“The police and firemen were far too busy, with the chaos going on among the falling bombs and burning buildings, to have any time for us two stranded WRNS. The train service had stopped at midnight and the only thing we could do was to start a long walk back to Stanmore. Our situation wasn’t as bad as some sailors we started out with, as they needed to get to Skegness. We seemed to lose track of them somewhere
along the way but we got as far as Neasden before we became too tired to go on.
“The only thing we could think to do was to look for a Police Station, and when we finally found one we were given cocoa and sympathy, and offered somewhere to sleep for the rest of the night. Which turned out to be wooden boards in the station cells. The Tube started again at 6am., so after more cocoa we got off early and back to base. I suppose we were so full of ourselves and the troubles we had been through that we
expected to be welcomed in, as some kind of heroines. Instead of which we received hard words, and Joyce was reprimanded for losing her uniform cap in the confusion!
“It’s funny to think, looking back, that although we might have grumbled about things at the time, we never really complained, or refused to do something. We just got on with it.”
Nancy’s parents, who as others of their generation, experienced the first World War, had only one other child.
“I had a brother, Bert, a couple of years older than me. He had gone into the navy and served as a lieutenant in South Africa and the Mediterranean, commanding a motor torpedo boat, (MTB). His boat was itself torpedoed in the Med, and he was a long time in the water before being picked up. The exposure he suffered was the cause of damage to his kidneys and he only survived until 1950. He was 28 when he died.”
Romance hadn’t been neglected during all this time and Nancy became engaged to Geoff, whom she had met in the Leicester hospital days.
“Geoff and I were married in 1945. Of course it had to be arranged some time ahead and we had chosen the 5th May. No one expected that the war would end three days later.”
Nancy continued her code breaking work in the WRNS, until the Japanese surrender the following August and, now being a married woman, she was demobbed fairly quickly next month. She and Geoff then started their life together, with all the housing and other shortages, and struggles of the early postwar years ahead of them. They had two children and two grandchildren. Nancy was widowed in 1992.
Now at 81 years of age she says -
“I have had a good life, enjoyed it and think I have been very lucky.”
Contributed originally by stanleywood (BBC WW2 People's War)
Teenage Memories of World War Two
(only then they were NOT called teenagers!)
In 1939 I was working in a semi-underground building on a machine where my foot depressed a pedal and punched .303 calibre bullets into blued steel clips which my hands linked together. The end product was a measured ammunition belt ready to feed one of the eight machine guns in the wings of a Hurricane or Spitfire fighter aircraft.
By an ironic twist of fate, and a year later, I stood in a busy London street on the periphery of Shepherds Bush listening to, and watching, those same fighter aircraft spiralling vapour trails and firing their guns at attacking German war planes. I couldn’t help thinking:” I wonder if I filled those machine gun belts?” It was 1940 and I was now seventeen years old. The Battle of Britain soon escalated to the indiscriminate bombing of towns and cities in Britain.
I didn’t know it at that time but I would not return to my previous place of work until many decades later. Then it would be only to see the monstrous crater and mourn some of the victims I once knew who were killed in the terrible explosion at 11.10am on the morning of the 27th November 1944 at Fauld in Staffordshire. Then, thousands of tons of high explosive bombs that had been stored in the excavated caverns of Ford’s Gypsum Mine, blew a gigantic hole out of the hill at Hanbury causing death and devastation.
But I digress and deviate from my situation in 1940. I lived with my family (father, mother and younger brother) in a flat off the Uxbridge Road in Shepherds Bush. On that road, towards Acton, I had found work at a factory that made Aircraft controls.
Up above, in the wide blue yonder, fat, floppy, grey blobs of the Barrage Balloons dotted the London skyline. Sometimes these Blimps, as we called them, would break away from their moorings and dance erractically in the sky, dragging their distructive cables across the rooftops.
At the factory they formed a section L.D.V. an abbreviation for Local Defence Volounteers but better known at that time as Look Duck and Vanish. Later they became the Home Guard.
That autumn of 1940 saw many daylight air raids. When the warning sirens wailed we stopped work in the factory and crossed the busy Uxbridge Road to the shelters. These were the standard type resembling a long concrete tunnel buried half way into the ground with the excavated soil piled up on top. Hard, wooden slatted seats extended the length of those cold, damp musty smelling ovoid walls.
The daylight raids became so frequent the firm decided to employ men as spotters to watch from the roof. The siren was then ignored until the spotters sounded the internal alarm for raiders overhead. Then we could all go to the shelters. The sound of droning aircraft was very clear. Then the anti-aircraft guns stationed in Hyde Park and Wormwood Scrubs would open up forming a ‘Box-Barrage’ (a big square of exploding shells to divert enemy aircraft and perhaps assist our fighters). On one memorable occasion I watched fascinated as a big square was formed by many puffs of smoke from the exploding shells in the clear blue sky.
Well, as you know, what goes up must come down. Some people call it shrapnel but it wasn’t. The large, jagged slivers of metal, some about six inches or more long and maybe an inch wide were the exploding cases of the anti-aircraft shells. In this incident a shower of these shards clanged musically and frightfully on the road and pavement amongst us only to bounce high once more before coming to rest with a reverberant echo. Naturally I picked one up to add to my collection which included a nose cone and later a number of tail fins from incendiary bombs and a durolumin shaft and base of a container used for dropping clusters of incendiary bombs. None of these souvenirs were kept very long.
When the night air raids started, a multitude of searchlights stabbed at the dark sky. Most were white light but a few coloured ones mingled with the illumination all highlighted by the enforced blackout. No anti-aircraft guns were fired, and after several days of obvious inaction people began to ask why. Nobody bothered whether the guns were accurate at night or not, they wanted to feel that we were fighting back. When, without warning, it suddenly came the action was deafening. Every anti-aircraft battery in London seemed to be firing in unison. After that I saw no more searchlights piercing the night sky. There was a new noise to get used to though. It was the shrill screech of falling bombs. The blast of those near ones shook the house and the light bulbs danced erratically on the hanging flex.
Perhaps you’ve seen films of the so-called Blitz with families moving out to their cold and damp Anderson shelters? If so, spare another thought for those people who had no gardens to dig them in. I don’t remember anyone who had a metal in-door Morrison shelter. Queues would form long before dark with shadowy figures clutching bed rolls and personal belongings to enter the cellars of larger buildings. There were, of course, the brick-walled pavement shelters with a thick concrete, flat roof. These were notorious for collapsing like a deck of cards from an adjacent explosion. So, like many others, we made sure the black out devices were in place and just stayed put. When the night raid was really bad the family in the only flat above would join us and we would sit in the hallway. Under the stairs was supposed to be the best place. The hall or passageway from the front door was the nearest we could get. It was almost under the staircase of the upstairs flat.
Most nights the all clear would wail before daylight. The way I walked to work would reveal the tragedies of the night. The acrid smell of burning or the odour of premature demolished buildings would tinge the air. Deep craters in the road, some with ignited gas pipes flaming powerfully like an angry dragon in its lair. Houses reduced to debris. It was pitiful to see baths and lavatories hanging from broken walls and half collapsed floors. Churned up in the shattered bricks and mortar were the possessions of people, who for a while anyway, you wondered how fate had treated them. The cinema on the main road was one day a pile of rubble except for the entrance at the front. Ludicrous in a grotesque sort of way the still standing front wall advertised the film ‘Forty Little Mothers’ starring Eddie Cantor. Sometimes the air raid warning would sound again before I got to work and sometimes we could have a day or two’s respite without the wailing siren. On one such day, as brother and I returned to work at mid-day, a Heinkel bomber flew very very low over Shepherds Bush green and then opened up with its machine gun along the Uxbridge Road. Then, after we got over the shock, the siren on the green wailed its late warning.
But we were lucky really. Apart from a shard of metal smashing the back room’s sash window and an incendiary bomb which crashed through the roof. Yes, we nearly got it hot that night.
With no near explosions we decided to go to bed and catch up with some sleep. Startled, I heard a bang hitting the roof of the flat above us and then the hammering on our front door by one of the older girls from upstairs who was shouting that we were on fire.
When the fire-watchers arrived with their bucket and stirrup-pump they couldn’t get any water. Seemingly, in a panic, the bloke upstairs had turned off the water and the electric supply. Stupid as it may seem now, both brother and I dashed up and down the dark stairs carrying water in pots and pans to fill the fire-watchers bucket. We spilled more water over ourselves in the process. Eventually the fire was extinguished; but not before the bomb had burned its way through our ceiling and into our water logged front room. A burnt out sofa was pushed through a smashed upstairs window onto the pavement below. The horrible smell of burning lasted for days. There were many fires in the city that night but the worst was still to come.
It was Sunday evening and December 1940 had only two days left. Brother and I decided to walk into Acton and go to the pictures. The film was nothing special but it was somewhere different than sitting at home listening to the wireless. Halfway through, and superimposing itself on the mediocre black and white picture, a notice read:-
THE AIR RAID WARNING HAS SOUNDED.
THOSE WHO WISH TO GO TO A SHELTER
SHOULD LEAVE NOW
THE SHOW WILL CONTINUE.
Not many people left. There wasn’t many in the cinema anyway. We stuck it out for another half an hour then, bored stiff, we decided to walk home.
Once outside in the cool of the night air we got the shock of our lives. The sky towards Shepherds Bush was blood red. We watched in amazement as the crimson sky swirled in what looked like agonized torment to the accompaniment of screaming bombs and the roar of anti-aircraft guns. Overhead, the intermittent drone of enemy aircraft engines seemed to follow us on that long, terrifying walk home. Houses that we had walked past on our way to the cinema had disintegrated into ruins. A long wooden fence beside the pavement we had earlier walked upon was pitted with the jagged holes of bomb fragments. The horrible thought that if we had left the cinema when the warning flashed on the screen we would probably have no legs now, hurried our homeward steps. A row of terraced houses in the street leading off to our right looked completely demolished and the vehicles of the rescue teams stood in silence, waiting.
The air raids continued into the new year of 1941. By March of that year my father's job had transferred him to the North of England. They called it Cumberland in those days. Mother, brother and I were left in London awaiting a letter to say a new home was available. When that day came we saw our furniture and belongings loaded into the van. With insufficient money for train fares, arrangements were made for us to travel north in the back of the van; but not that day. The furniture van was scheduled to set off at first light from a lorry park somewhere in Chiswick. We had to find the place and the only way to do just that was to walk.
As the evening sky darkened to night the wailing siren heralded another raid. That final night in London, as the whine of bombs preceded the house shaking explosions, we made tea from an old kettle and drank our fill out of glass jam-jars.
It was still dark when we left our flat in the very early hours. The raid had ebbed and flowed all night and the guns still blasted their shells into the sky. I think we turned left into Uxbridge Road where luminous strips on the forever darkened lamp post glowed in guiding light through the dreary blackout.
From Goldhawk Road I think our aim was to find the Chiswick High Road. As dawn broke over Chiswick the all-clear sounded. We were more relieved to have located the van and a disgusting and distasteful smelling lavatory than to hear the sound of that long, wailing note we had heard so many times before. The conventional air raids would continue for another couple of months.
You don’t want to know that somewhere near ‘Rutland Water’ the half-shaft of the dilapidated van broke with a loud crack followed by a big skid and a stink of burning rubber, or that a year later I received a four shilling postal order (which I still have) and a leaflet which said :- ‘YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A SOLDIER’. That’s another story.
Contributed originally by Holywood Arches Library (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was submitted to the Peoples War Site by H Porter of the Belfast Education and Library Board/Holywood Arches on behalf of Ada, the author and had been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and condtions.
War changed our lives- Memories of the West London Hospital
To the normal, carefree teenager the thirties were not ominous. Only the wealthy went on Continental holidays and aeroplanes were for the R.A.F. Schools would encourage pupils to correspond with foreign students, mainly French, and occasionally to exchange visits but, in the main, we worked and played happily around our own neighbourhood and met and, married within it.
We had no television but went regularly to the cinema and saw and heard Herr Hitler pontificating to huge crowds of enthusiastic Germans but we did not understand the language. His straight black hair and little moustache were easily recognisable and a gift to the cartoonists, but he belonged to Germany, not to us, and we were safe in our own island. We did not have wars anymore because the League of Nations was there to prevent them.
In August 1939 I visited my French correspondent in Brittany without a care in the world except for coping with the unfamiliar travel arrangements and the language. I travelled by train from Blackpool to Southampton where I had a wonderful fried breakfast in a dockside café for ten pence and later boarded the ship for St. Malo, travelled overnight and slept on deck. An official met me and conducted me and my suitcase to the train. I thought he was a porter and tipped him with a centime which he graciously declined. I discovered later that he was the stationmaster and a friend of my hosts and he wasn’t ‘un homme’ but ‘un monsieur’! The family were very kind and attentive and showed me the best of Brittany in the next 2 weeks.
The rumblings of war had more of less escaped my attention, life being too busy with ice skating, ballroom dancing and messing about in boats, as well as necessarily though not enthusiastically earning my living by thumping a calculating machine to work out the labour costs of a firm of Coach Bodybuilders.
I remember on Sunday 3rd September sitting on the edge of our dining room table at home and listening to the wireless as Neville Chamberlain announced that we were ‘now at war with Germany’. I thought it sounded exciting and was rather proud that we were being so firm, but didn’t think it would make much difference to my life.
At first it didn’t. We each collected a gas-mask from the village school, which was the centre of all activities. We were told they must be carried around wherever we went. The magazines told us how to make them more attractive with pretty covers to match various outfits. We tried them on and decided we’d need to be in extreme danger before wearing them again.
We were issued with Identity Cards and Ration Books, without which we couldn’t buy meat, butter, eggs, sugar or tinned food.
Then the evacuees arrived, school children from the cities who were sent to the countryside to escape the bombs. They were billeted in any household with spare rooms and not all the children, nor all the householders, were too happy about the arrangement. The village was awash with stories of the strange habits and behaviour of their visitors. Child psychology was not studied much by the locals and many children drifted back to their city homes, preferring the excitement and bombs to the peace and boredom.
Conscription had started and young men and also young women were ‘called up’ by age groups and allocated to the Forces. Friends, and my brother, disappeared and occasionally came back, on leave, in uniform.
My employers were no longer Coach Bodybuilders but makers of aircraft panels for the well known firm of Vickers-Armstrong and my job was depressingly unchanged. Because we were doing ‘work of National Importance’ I was in a ‘reserved occupation’ and therefore not liable to be ‘called up’.
Something had to be done.
I surreptitiously applied to the Women’s Air Transport Auxiliary which ferried aeroplanes from factories to RAF stations but they politely declined my offer when they found I had no previous flying experience.
My friend had chosen to train as a nurse and I thought I might enjoy that too. It had the added advantage that, on entry to the forces as a State Registered Nurse, one was entitled to a Commission and a much better looking uniform. This would take up to 4 years but the war seemed set to carry on for a very long time.
I applied, was accepted and asked to report to the West London Hospital in March 1943.
There were about 10 of us in my ‘Set’ and we spent 2 months in the Preliminary Training School before being let loose on the wards.
As I had never set foot in a hospital before the initial shock was quite profound, especially when a patient called out ‘Nurse’ and I realised she meant me!
War time conditions brought in a very motley collection of trainees. There were the usual school leavers but also a great many girls of different ages and experience, who had previously worked in other jobs and professions. The salaries and conditions of work were very different from those we had enjoyed before. We were paid £2 per month and uniform, laundry, food and accommodation were supplied.
All nursing staff lived in the Nurses’ Home with behaviour strictly supervised by Home Sister. Freedom was curtailed, weekends disappeared and late nights out required permission or a crafty means of entry. One telephone served us all and male visitors were not allowed beyond the Entrance Hall. We called it the Virgins' Retreat.
There were perks however. Places of entertainment would often send free tickets to the shows. Thus we might find ourselves in the front stalls of a West End Theatre for a matinee performance, or the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square for a morning film preview.
On one occasion six tickets were on offer for a matinee performance of ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, conducted by Malcolm Sargent (not then a Sir) at the Albert Hall. My musical appreciation has never been of a high order, but as it was my half-day off and I had no other plans, I casually applied for and collected a ticket from Home Sister, and departed for Kensington High Street and the shops with no firm intention of doing anything in particular.
However, I’d been on duty all morning and my feet soon tired. The thought of a nice free rest propelled me towards the Albert Hall just in time for a last minute entrance into a very superior box.
There was one vacant seat. The other five were occupied by Matron, Assistant Matron, Theatre Sister and two Ward sisters and their combined gaze was definitely disapproving. Fortunately, there was no time for comment but I was very relieved that I’d turned up.
The first six months on the Wards were gruelling and by Christmas, on Night Duty, with aching feet and a very limited social life I was ready to give up.
London was grim, grey and lonely.
I remember standing at a bus-stop on Hammersmith Broadway, unable, because of the pea-souper fog, to see the double-decker bus until it stopped in front of me.
Then Fate took a hand!
I came off night-duty and was allocated to Outpatients, the only place where you had every evening off, plus Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
The Old Town Hall in Hammersmith was just round the corner from the hospital and was being used by the Royal Corps of Signals. They invited us to one of their dances. After that there were many more dances and invitations to the Mess for drinks and the odd cocktail party. Life became much more balanced.
Looking back, I realise that the Colonel of the Signals showed great understanding, realising that his troops needed not only training and discipline but also opportunities to relax and enjoy themselves. He was a Scot, always attended the dances, and was the most energetic mover on the dance floor. I hope he is still doing the Eightsome Reel with the same 'gusto'.
Meanwhile at the Hospital, most of my Set had been sent to Park Prewett, a very large hospital, near Basingstoke, built for the mentally disabled but requisitioned by the Government for the use of the Armed Forces. It was staffed for the duration by various London hospitals, including W.L.H.
Usually each set went for six months in their second year of training and it was regarded as a refreshing change but they were glad to get back to the City.
I would have felt rather aggrieved at being left behind but for the fact that, early in 1944, at one of the aforementioned dances, a tall, young Lieutenant from R.E.M.E appeared.
I was impressed enough to record him in my diary at the time. Three weeks later he reappeared. He had been seconded to the Signals for several weeks and would be in and around Hammersmith, though still billeted in Richmond.
London in the Spring of 1944 was sheer bliss.
On warm, sunny evenings we would amble over Barnes Common to the 'Sun Inn', to the 'Doves' beside the river in Hammersmith or the 'Flask' on Hampstead Heath. On Sundays it was Richmond and a walk up the hill, with panoramic views of cherry blossom and the river, before we reached 'The Lass' for sandwiches and beer.
We went to the theatre to see Kay Hammond in 'Blithe Spirit', then ate at Lyon’s Corner House. We saw Judy Garland in her latest film 'The Wizard of Oz'. We danced at the Cumberland Hotel near Hyde Park Corner, at Richmond and of course at the Old Town Hall.
Then towards the end of May, the Army and the hospital began to make demands and upset our happy arrangements. Robert disappeared for several days just as we were deciding to make our relationship official. I learned, much later because we all took very seriously that 'Careless talk Costs Lives', that he had been sent to Tilbury. The Docks were an amazing sight, filled to capacity with vessels and landing craft in preparation for the Second Front Invasion. To add to the drama, over the Tannoy system and clearly heard throughout the whole area, drifted the voice of Vera Lynn.
On June 1st ,along with several other nurses I received a letter marked CONFIDENTIAL from Matron saying that in preparation for the Second Front we were to make ready to leave for an unknown destination nearer the coast. No date was given, we would have but a few hours notice. On that same evening Bob and I went to the Cumberland Hotel to dine, dance and celebrate our engagement.
June 2nd Bob was posted to Northumberland.
June 4th We were warned to be ready to depart next morning.
June 5th We boarded the coach with great excitement and anticipation. Some optimists thought we were heading for France, others the Isle of Wight, while the more practical suggested Southampton was more likely. The miles rolled by and then some of our more senior companions started to remark, then exclaim, then groan as a familiar landscape began to unfold and we arrived at the entrance to Park Prewett to the cheers of our already installed colleagues.
For newcomers like me the next few days were spent finding our way around the maze of corridors and getting installed in Villa 10 with the other W.L.H nurses already there. We found that the food served in the enormous dining hall was far superior to our city diet. A salad contained a whole hard-boiled egg EACH and the meat looked and tasted more normal. Our previous roast meat was crinkly and tough with slightly yellowish fat and we suspected it was horse.
We discovered the bakery where a friendly baker made tiny loaves which he gave, hot from the oven, to Night Nurses coming off duty.
I was allocated to a surgical ward. It was very large and completely without patients. We shared it with St Thomas’s nurses and all we could do was mend sheets and keep the place clean and ready for action. Nurses in training were never allowed to be idle on duty.
The news of the Allied landings in Normandy came as a relief. We received one casualty, a Marine Commando, who would I think have been happier facing the entire might of Germany rather than the concentrated medical and nursing attention we wanted to give him. He refused to tell us more than his name, rank and number.
Then the others began to arrive. A telephone call would be followed by convoys of weary soldiers tramping into the ward in heavy boots, carrying packs and filling all the empty beds within minutes. A nurse went along each row removing dirty dressings. The House Surgeon followed to assess treatment needed. Another nurse accompanied him to apply fresh dressings. Operating Theatres sprang into action for those who needed immediate surgery. Very quickly they were sorted, treated and tucked into bed.
The medical casualties were more predictable when I did night duty on M3 ward. The telephone would ring to say that a convoy was arriving. We would immediately switch on the big water boiler in the kitchen to make gallons of cocoa, prepare thick slices of bread and butter and fill all the wash basins with hot water.
This time the feet were even more weary, these were the men suffering from Anxiety Neuroses and Battle Fatigue. For them it was dump pack, quick wash, undress, into bed, cocoa and bread and butter, medication and sleep, sleep and more sleep, often for days — surfacing occasionally for food.
Very soon those who were fit enough would move on to hospitals further North, leaving empty beds for the next convoy.
August 1944. Bob left Northumberland and was posted to Bury St Edmunds. He decided to pay me a visit. The very long, large ward was quite empty and as I was on Night duty I put him in a padded cell at the furthermost end. Imagine his surprise when he emerged next morning to go to the ablutions and had to face a long walk through a ward completely filled by an overnight convoy.
September 28. Home on leave for 2 weeks. Bob joined me for the weekend. We decided on January 4th for our wedding. I wrote to Matron in London requesting leave to cover that date. She replied, "The hospital agreed that Nurses may marry during war time. It was not allowed of course in Peace time. I will arrange your leave."
I ordered the wedding cake, arranged to buy a friend's wedding dress for £2 and 26 clothing coupons, to borrow a veil and equip the bridesmaid with a dress previously made for my sister.
Then I packed to return to Park Prewett.
On the day before I was due to leave, a telegram arrived from Bestwood, Notts.
‘Could you extend leave for marriage?’
I replied immediately, "Yes," and sent a telegram asking for extended leave.
October 13. Friday Bob arrived. He was on 10 days embarkation leave before departure to an unknown destination.
October14. We saw the Vicar and arranged to be married by Special Licence. We arranged the reception across the Square from the church and for the cake to be ready in 3 days.
October 16. Bob’s relations arrived.
October 18. Wedding Day. Everything ran very smoothly and we departed for our five day honeymoon in York, Gateshead and Nottingham where Bob rejoined his unit, said a fond farewell, and disappeared for the next year and a half.
I returned home, packed my suitcase and went back to Park Prewett and the Convoys.
Letters arrived and it was obvious that my new husband was now on a ship, presumably heading for the Far East, and enjoying excellent food, wine and unlimited cigarettes.
Eventually the address changed to No.10 Base A&G Workshop India Command, then to 5 Advance Base Workshop SEAC but the letters, delivered almost daily, contained no information about his location. They were all censored and any forbidden information was blue-pencilled out.
In the meantime the Allied advance in Europe continued and hospitals in France took in the wounded. I remember Christmas Eve 1944. A sparsely populated ward was decorated tastefully with holly and ivy and in came a convoy to share our festive fare. They showed no relief, no joy, no ‘great to be home’ — only several expletives and moans about how they had been untimely removed from the French hospital where their Christmas Cheer was all happily planned and where the nurses were obviously preferable to us.
Early in 1945 we were replaced and went back to Hammersmith. VE Day came with great rejoicing and I joined the crowds swirling round Piccadilly Circus and heading down the Mall to Buckingham Palace calling for the King and Queen to appear over and over again. The tube trains were running all night.
VJ day brought more hope and in March 1946 Bob arrived home to be demobbed, given £80 gratuity and a new navy blue civilian suit. I stayed to complete my training, the State examinations were less than 3 months away. That done, I rejoined him in Gateshead where he had been busy sorting out his civilian career as a teacher.
Few, if any houses had been built in the war years and the enormous influx of demobbed service men and women created a big problem. A school in Belfast offered Bob a position which included accommodation.
That is why in September 1946 we boarded a ship bound for N. Ireland, to live, originally for 3 years but eventually for life, happily working, making good friends and rearing our ever increasing family.