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'Singing For ENSA'.

by Lancshomeguard

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Archive List > Family Life

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Blackpool, Fleetwood and London
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Contributed on: 
27 July 2005

This story has been submitted to the ‘People’s War’ Web Site by Betty & Don TEMPEST of Lancshomeguard on behalf of Mrs Joan CROASDALE and has been added to the Web Site with her permission.

‘Singing for E.N.S.A.’

I was born I Accrington, but came to Blackpool when I was 8months old. Before the war I used to have singing lessons, and I entered Musical Festivals Etc. However when the war broke out everything changed. Money was short, but, because of my singing, I managed to get some bookings in clubs in Blackpool. One of them was the Gas Works Club, but it isn’t there any more. I wasn’t quite seventeen then and so was chaperoned by my mother and father.

One night when I was singing in the Gas Works Club, this gentleman and his brother walked in. They were regulars in that club. I had already sung a couple of songs, but then I sang ‘Begin the Beguine’, which apparently was this mans favourite song. He sent the waiter over to ask us what we would like to drink.

My last number was always ‘Whose Walking You Home Tonight’, which in my case was always my Mum and Dad.

My sister, who was also there that night, and I went to the toilet. When we came out, the gentleman was waiting there, and he thanked me for singing his favourite song. He asked me if he could get in touch with me and I told him I worked in the Town Hall at Blackpool, in the Town Clerk’s Office.

He rang me up and asked me if I would go out with him one night, I refused at first because he was a lot older than me, but he persisted and I eventually said that I would go out with him. He took me out a few times, but he never kissed me, and with the Blackout being on, he could have taken advantage, but he didn’t, he was the perfect gentleman. If he had asked me then to marry him I would have said ‘Yes’.

He had lost an arm in Dunkirk and had shrapnel wounds in his leg, and he was one of the first to arrive back in Blackpool. Of course here in Blackpool they didn’t know that there was a war going on, except that we had taken in five boys who had been evacuated from London. When they first arrived at our home they had nothing but what they stood up in. My Mum and Dad, who had a Grocery business at that time, but lost it all during the war, made them very welcome. My Mum, who wore the trousers in our house, because Dad was a big softie, had a heart of gold, and every week she would buy the boys something, so by the time they went home they had nice clothes to take back with them. We also had an Airman and his wife staying with us.

My man friend, who had been going out with another girl from Blackpool some time before he met me, asked the Sergeant to write to her when he was wounded, and called their romance off, saying it wouldn’t be fair on her. But she wrote back a lovely letter saying that it didn’t matter to her, which cheered him up no end. When he came back home to Blackpool he took her out again, bought her presents and spent a lot of money on her. Then she wrote to him and told him that she thought it better if they finished. He went to see her, but she wasn’t in. His parents told him not to bother and that he would be better off without her, so he vowed not to get involved again, that is until he met me. I was a bit of a live wire and liked a good time, but I really loved him. We eventually got married and I had him for 52years. He was a lovely man and I was a very lucky woman.

Anyway, back to my singing career. I was booked into a club in Fleetwood one night and there was this comedian on the bill with me. He suggested that we do a double act, so we ad-libbed and it seemed to go down pretty well. He said he had to go to ENSA and would I like to go with him, but first we had to go to London for an audition, which we passed.

We worked together for eighteen months, travelling all over the country, entertaining the Troops and the Ammunition Workers. I could have gone to Cairo, but I didn’t want to, so I stayed in this country. One night I went on stage to sing and nothing came out, I had lost my voice. I had got Laryngitis. After that I lost my confidence and never entertained again.

I came home, got married and had two lovely children. We had a good life, I still have. I have a lovely son and daughter-in-law and a lovely daughter and son-in-law and six lovely grandchildren. What more could anyone ask for.

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