- Contributed by
- Wymondham Learning Centre
- People in story:
- Florence Chamberlain, Henry George Chamberlain and son Philip
- Location of story:
- Hethersett, Barnham Broom, Norwich and Wymondham, Norfolk
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 04 April 2005
This story was submitted to the BBC People’s War site by Wymondham Learning Centre on behalf of Florence Chamberlain and Henry George Chamberlain and has been added to the site with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.
I married George on Battle of Britain Day, 14th September 1940. He was given twenty-four hours leave to get married but he was able to leave barracks early on Friday evening and nobody missed him because his mate stood in on duty. There were Redcaps standing outside, checking that he had permission to be at the church away from his unit when the Battle of Britain was taking place.
I had saved my coupons to buy my wedding dress from Norwich and, as it was the early part of the war, it was not difficult to obtain the food for the reception, which took place at my mother’s home. We bought the wedding cake from Kenny Wilde’s bakery in Hethersett for 12/6d. I kept the bill for a long time. It was the last cake Kenny made with white icing for the duration of the war and we kept the top tier of the cake for years.
There was no honeymoon, of course. I travelled to Thetford with George on our wedding night. We parted at his base and I travelled back to Wymondham alone. The nearest we got to a honeymoon was in 1942 when I went up to Goole, where George was then based, for a week.
In 1944 our son, Philip George, was born at my parents-in-law’s house and George was given ten days baby leave. Scotts in Norwich sold baby equipment but we had to place an order if we wanted anything special. We all helped each other and my friend gave us her big pram to use. Unfortunately, her husband was shot in the head by a sniper as he landed on the French beaches. I fed Philip for nine months and he was soon able to have rusks and nursery biscuits.
My Nan, who lived in Wicklewood, made the baby’s nightdresses using material which was bought with her dockets (ration coupons). She also bought Turkish towels to make nappies. After the baby was born, I had to stay in hospital for ten days, and I wore binders, towels wrapped tightly around my abdomen, to pull in the muscles.
I recall lying in bed one day with my son when I heard doodle bugs approaching. I was very frightened and did not know whether to stay where I was or to rush to the shelter. I stayed in bed and the doodle bugs passed over Wymondham, eventually landing in Barnham Broom.
On the day George came home for good, we moved into a house in Pople Street. There was one room downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs — a spiral staircase linked the two floors. There were no taps in the house but there was a wash-house in the yard with a tin bath and a copper to warm the water. At last we were able to make a home together.
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