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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Bessie Tiplady
Location of story: 
Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5471002
Contributed on: 
01 September 2005

(This story was submitted to the Peoples War website by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire Action Desk) at Barnabus Court on behalf of Bessie Tiplady and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Tiplady fully understands the site's terms and conditions).

Before the war started by husband was already in the Territorial Army so he was called up straight away and because I was on my own with no family they said I would have to have soldiers billoted with me, but my husband said no to that’s, so I had children instead. The first little boy was called Peter aged around 7 and he went to the local school. His father worked on the demolition of London after the war. He stayed with me for two years. He was a lovely boy and we got on really well. It was like having a family. We couldn’t do a lot but we played games like snakes and ladders. We did keep in touch for a short while after the war but we’re not in touch anymore.

After Peter I had 3 separate pairs of teenage girls aged around 16 who used to work in Cambridge. 1 pair came from Canterbury and another pair from Wales. One morning one of the girls from Canterbury came down the stairs saying she couldn’t wake Mary up. We found an empty carton of tablets so we tried to wake her up. We did manage to wake her up and we found out that she had got friendly with an air cadet and had got pregnant. So she then went to London and was collected by her parents and taken back to Canterbury. She was full of life was Mary. I remember once she went on the river and fell in. She told me she took off her pants and put them on the punt poll to dry.

But I wasn’t without a family for long. 5 months into the war my husband came home on leave and I got pregnant. One incident was when the doodlebugs were flying over head and I dived under the bed as I thought I didn’t want the bombs to fall on my tummy so I hid under the bed. Looking back it all seems rather ridiculous and funny now.

Another time I heard my husband was coming home on leave. It was about 7 o’clock in the morning as I hadn’t got up yet. I was so excited I ran out of bed with my curlers in and half dressed, I ran down the street to meet him. But not seeing him for a few months sadly I didn’t look that glamorous, but you didn’t worry about things like that during the war.

At the end of the war my daughter who was around 5 asked me for a baby brother and I told her she could have one for her birthday the next year. And funnily enough on her birthday in November 1945 I gave birth to a baby boy. I never promised anything after that.

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