- Contributed by
- Nick Mottershead
- People in story:
- Maggie Fink nee Jones
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 May 2005
Transcript of an interview with Maggie Fink nee Jones, by her grandson Luke Mottershead as part of a school WW2 project
Maggie Fink was born in November 1934, so was aged 4 at the outbreak of War. Her parents lived in Welwyn, in Hertfordshire, during the war, though she was away at Boarding school in Bristol, before her school was evacuated to Devon. Her father was a solicitor and reserve fire fighter during the war. She has four older brothers, two of whom were in the Forces.
Q: What did your father do during the war?
A: He was too old to be in the forces, so he joined the auxiliary fire service, which became the national fire service. When there was an air raid he was called out - because he was a solicitor he was called out of the office. He had a car with a water pump behind it and he used to take the pump to the fires.
Q: What was the effect on you not having him there at home?
A: Well I was away from home most of the time, because I was away at boarding school. So he was living at home he didn't go away from home. It was just; I was away because of the bombing, or what they thought was going to be the bombing. I was sent away to school which was in the country.
Q: What was the school like?
A: Well (laughs) horrible. I was only 5 it was a long way down in North Devon. Our school was actually in Bristol because there was a lot of bombing in Bristol an incendiary bomb came through the roof. Fortunately no - one was there at the time. Like a lot of schools we were evacuated to the country we were down in D. It was a long way from home and at 5 years old to be over 200 miles away from school - it wasn't much fun.
Q: Were you evacuated?
A: Right at the beginning when war broke out on 3rd Sept 1939 we were on holiday in Cornwall we were living on a farm in a caravan. Farmers asked Dad if he would like me to stay there, but he decided not to I actually went to Llandudno in N. Wales. But I wasn't like an evacuee - I wasn't sent with a label round my neck I was actually taken to some relative or other she was an aunt or distant aunt or something there was another girl there from Liverpool. She was just put on a train and sent there.
Q: Were people evacuated to where you used to live?
A: Yes - that was the stupid thing. While I was away at school and my brothers were away at school, my parents had evacuees billeted with them.
Q: Why were you sent away to Wales then?
A: Because - at the start of the war no one knew what was going to happen. Welwyn where I lived was only 20 miles from London. So they thought there might be, because there was a big De Hanviland factory nearby in Hatfield and they thought there might be a lot of bombing. In fact Welwyn wasn’t particularly badly bombed, we could see bombing, you know we could see the bombs dropping on London, but we didn’t have a lot of bombs. Thank goodness.
Q: Did you watch the bombing?
A: Yes, (Laughs) My brothers did got into trouble because during the Battle of Britain they climbed onto the roof to watch one of the air raid wardens saw them and made them get down and go inside (laughs). So we did watch it.
Q: Did you have nightmares or anything about it?
A: It scared me, I cant pretend it didn't. You know when the air raid siren went off in the middle of the night; you could hear the aircraft going over. You could actually tell the difference between a German and a British plane. And you could hear the bombs dropping and you could hear the guns firing searchlights were all over the sky and yes it was it was scary. I used to have a dream I had a box, It was a metal box I used to keep my toys in it. I used to dream that I would lift up the lid and Hitler's head was inside it. (Laughs)
Q: Were you more unhappy during wartime than peacetime?
A: (Sighs) - That’s a very difficult question to answer because in a lot of ways it was a very exciting time. I don’t think it was a question of being happy, it was so exciting that when the war ended I wondered what would be in the newspapers because I thought there is nothing else to put in the newspapers. I think everyone expected so much and to a child anyway it didn’t really happen, you know, when the war ended you thought everything was going to be wonderful and, you know, it wasn't like that at all.
Of course my mother, your great grandmother she died when I was only 9, while I was still away at school so obviously that was a very unhappy time. So I - It's not really something I could really say, that I was happier - I was very pleased when the war ended. I was pleased that there wasn’t any bombing. My brothers who were in the forces were at home again so that was good, so yes as far as being happy I don’t think it made a great deal of difference really. It was, because after the war the food rationing and things like that actually got worse, before it got better. Even things like bread and potatoes were rationed after the war. Whereas during the war they weren't, so things weren't better from that point of view, and it was years before - I think it was the 1950's before sweets were off ration. And then when they did come off ration everybody rushed to the shops and were so greedy that they had to put them back on ration again. They bought boxes and boxes of chocolates and, you know, went absolutely mad. And that was oh 1952 something like that.
Q: What did you do for fun?
A: What did you do for fun - I used to cycle a lot. Cycled everywhere and listened to radio and particularly remember I was allowed to stay up to half past 8 on Thursday to listen to a programme called ITMA. Which was a very popular programme - it was a comedy and it was very good - everyone enjoyed that. So we used to do that. We used to walk a lot and go off on picnics in the nice weather, and roller skate, you could roller skate down the road because there were no cars. And my brothers used to ride their bikes and I used to hold onto a rope behind and they used to pull me along. And what else did we do? We use to… I'm trying to think what sort of things we used to do at home.
Q: Did you play board games and things like that?
A: Yes we did - jigsaw puzzles and thing s like that, played the gramophone a lot and things like that. But there wasn’t you know…. - We used to go to the pictures and that was really cheap and that was something you could do and it didn’t cost a lot of money. And in the summer when I came home for the holidays I was nearly always taken up to the theatre in London and to go to concerts
Q: Wasn’t that dangerous?
A: Yes - this was the thing, you could only, you never knew quite what was going to happen. If there was an air raid you… the theatre could have been emptied, but that never happened to us.
Q: Where children expected to help with the war effort?
A: Well, I suppose that was the other thing - we had an allotment and I suppose we all used to go and help a lot, planting things on the allotment and digging up food and things like that. But not really we weren't expected to do much - we were just expected to be good (laughs). But no, there was nothing really that children were expected to do.
See Part 2 for more of the interview.
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