- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Olga Mason (Nee Durward)
- Location of story:
- Hendon - London and Westbury - Shropshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 22 September 2005
I had eight sisters and two brothers, but my sisters in the First World War were Land Army so I hardly ever saw them. When my Father died, my Mother was left with us the three youngest- aged 10, 11 and 12. That’s how we came from Suffolk to London — to live with my brother who was a London Bus Driver. We later went to live in Friar Close, London.
I was about 26 when war broke out. I was working in Selfridges in London then, and I volunteered for War Work, so I went up to Westbury in Shropshire with my sister to do gardening but I didn’t think I was doing enough war work so I went back to London. I travelled by train, and had to go on the underground - I hated it down there!
I went into a Halifax bomber factory making Halifax Bombers. I worked along with lots of other people — hundreds of people- it was a very big factory.
It was a very frightening time, I lived in lodgings at the back of Hendon Aerodrome and they had a flying bomb hit them - killing 500 people. It frightened me to death! They only had that one bomb though - luckily.
We had to get up very early in the morning for work, and we had long days — it was hard work and very dirty.
The actual building where I worked was a glass-roofed factory where they made these bombers so whenever these flying bombs came over we had to go into the shelters, and they came over quite frequently so we spend a lot of time in the shelters; it was very frightening. They’d just stop, and you didn’t know where they were going to fall. (As a matter of fact I was in bed when one flying bomb stopped. I got my tin hat on — in bed!)
I had to be a semi-skilled fitter for 6 months — we did all sorts of drillings and filings. I then worked on the engines and the spars and they had planes coming that had been damaged and we had to repair them — some of them were in a pretty bad state, but we always knew what to do to fix them.
The lodgings were very big rooms holding many people, but I lived in a bed-sit (I just a bedroom to myself— everything else was shared) so I had to feed myself. They’d got little garden plots, so I used to go down there and spend time there. We had mostly vegetables in the plot during wartime to supplement our meals as the food was generally pretty bad — I just about lived on salad I think.
We didn’t really go out or anything while we were there. In the evenings I would do a lot of sewing and dress-making. I made blouses out of curtains and sheets during the war, also a red coat out of a woolly blanket - it was a lovely coat; anything I could do to make do and mend. I had a few items made out of parachute silk.
After that I went back to Westbury where I married in the little church there and later had a son (Colin) who’s 60 this year. I got married during the War but my husband was in the Air force. Then he was disabled with awful arthritis, so I’m a war widow.
My wedding service was at 8 o’ clock in the morning: an early one. I made my own wedding dress. There wasn’t much else though. I remember the Parson — he was very old, and he walked all the way up from Westbury up to Polesgate where I was living, and I didn’t even ask him inside after the poor thing had walked all that way!
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Olga Mason and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
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