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15 October 2014
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Wartime in Creswell

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
cambsaction
People in story: 
Doreen George, Fred George
Location of story: 
Creswell, near Sheffield
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A9034102
Contributed on: 
31 January 2006

In 1942 we had 10year old twins staying with us, who had been evacuated from Lowestoft and there were other evacuees in our village, Creswell near Sheffield.
The twins were with us for about 1 year and during that time the twins’ sister, Lydia aged 5, also came to stay with us. Their brother stayed with another family in the village. I remember that there weren’t enough teachers at school for the evacuees went to school in the mornings and the village children went in the afternoons. The twins’ Dad was a fisherman in Lowestoft. Their mother used to come and visit then and in the end she came and took all the children home. I think she missed them too much.

Our village didn’t get bombed except for stray bombs when the Germans were leaving Sheffield steel works and wanted to get rid of their loads. We didn’t have shelters, just went under the stairs — we had a single bed there to get on.

I remember that we were short of everything and things were hard. We queued up for
food. We got 2oz of butter between three of us for the week. When I was about 13 years (I was born 1928) I can remember queuing for pork pie and a pound of sausages for Christmas dinner. We usually only had meat once at the beginning of the week and once at the end. I can remember later in the war when I went down to London that extras like mince for example seemed to be more available there than at home.
My mum and dad used to keep the peeling for all the vegetables and send them to the farm for the pigs. Then when one of the pigs was killed, we would get some meat in return. Even at school there wasn’t enough, so they made us go in for mornings only or afternoons only on alternate weeks.

One time my mum warned my dad to be home on time because she’d made a pie, but he didn’t turn up until much later than he should have done. When he did get back he said that he’d got lost because he’d not been able to turn on his bike lights because the
‘Jerries had been following him all the way1’

I met Fred (now my husband) who was a Bevan boy at the local mine at one of the local dances. My father didn’t approve — I think it was the north/south divide which was stronger in those days. We had to run away. We had friends who were good to us and aunts who also helped us. I think we were talked about in the village — they suspected I was pregnant, which wasn’t true. We married in 1946 but my mum and dad didn’t come to the wedding I went to meet Fred’s family in London in 1944 when I was 15. I had to use my coupons to get my dress and nylons for the wedding. A few years later when I had had my daughter Paula, I was showing her off in the village and saw one of the women who had suspected I had been pregnant. I said “This is the baby you said I was having1”

Sometimes we’d go dancing at Wellbeck Abbey which was an army training place.
When we first got married I used to play up if Fred wouldn’t go on a Saturday night. We used to do the jitterbug, so we’d wear very high pants (under our skirts) and some of the men watching would make comments. Once one man standing next to Fred was looking at me and said ‘Look at the legs on her!’ Fred had to tell him I was with him. Fred didn’t really approve of all that.

I started work aged 14 in Worksop at the Bachelors pea factory. I used to go there with two friends who also worked there. I didn’t have a bike but they did and they shared them with me — two of us on bikes and other ran alongside.
They took turns at letting me go on the bikes and they didn’t work out that I always got to go on a bike and never ran!
I also worked at Borringers in Mansfield where they made solid fuel containers for the troops, and in the canteen at the 66 Maintenance Unit.

I remember the Americans based just outside Mansfield. When we saw them, for example on the train, we would say, “Got any gum, chum?” and they would throw it to us as we got off. A lot of girls I knew ended up marrying Americans and going over there, but quite a lot were unhappy and returned home.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Clare George of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Doreen George and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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