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WW2 - People's War

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My War Effort

by Neal Wreford

Contributed by 
Neal Wreford
People in story: 
Enid Blois
Location of story: 
London
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A2927603
Contributed on: 
18 August 2004

At the age of 17 I heard on the radio an appeal for girls with a golden voice, to work in many different telephone exchanges. So, I took my civil service exam at Wren House, and was sent to train at Temple Bar Exchange.

I was then sent to Faraday House, the Toll exchange section. We worked shifts, and on the late turn would sleep underground and then start at 6am the following day.

The raids were bad, especially the rockets. You never heard them coming. Many girls were killed as they came from all over London.

We had tickets piled high to get priority calls through to hospitals and camps. When you think of how many exchanges there were compared with today where they are all automatic.

We used to have the boyfriends meeting us outside the exchange home from leave, and just wanted to have a good time; for they never knew whether they would be killed.

We would go to the shows in London which still kept running. Some girls would go to the Rainbow Club at Piccadilly Circus where the Americans would give nylon stockings and many different things we could not get.

I had a friend who married a Norwegian sailor and went to live eventually in Norway. Another girl married an American stationed at Hornchurch in Essex, she then sailed for America. I went to her wedding. Another girl had a New Zealand air force officer, and went on the long journey to New Zealand to get married to him.

We would make calls (not supposed to) to boyfriends who were flying Lancasters to find out if they had returned safely from raids over Germany. We would also send messages up and down the rows of telephonists; “Anyone swap 1lb of jam for a 1lb of sugar” etc as rationing was tight, although parcels of tinned fruit would arrive from Australia.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Working Through War Category
London Category
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