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15 October 2014
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An eventful wartime Milton Life

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Flo(rence) Larkin nee Newell
Location of story: 
Milton, Cambridge
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Margaret Waddy of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Flo Larkin, and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was 11 when the war started, at Chesterton Senior. We left school at 14. Chesterton was a new school. We had a horrible Geography teacher, but I liked Miss Tweed, who taught Needlework. We had to carry out gas masks everywhere, and at night everything was black.

My first job was in a Post office in Fitzroy Street. I served behind the counter and sent telegrams over the phone.

I left there because my father died, in hospital. I didn’t want to go in the forces because Mum would have been alone. So I went to work with her at Grays’ factory on Milton Road, making armatures that went into Lancaster bombers. I worked there until nearly the end of the war, then left and went into nursing.

I trained at Brookfields (part of Addenbrooke’s). It was an isolation hospital, but I was on the general medical ward. I got my SEN later on.

Everything was rationed. We went shopping with our ration books and the shopkeepers cut out coupons. I remember making scrambled egg with dried egg powder. We had to queue for most things, especially unrationed food like fruit and vegetables. But we had plenty of fruit and veg because we had a big garden — we lived in Leys Road, off Milton Road. We grew all our own strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, black- and redcurrants, apples, pears, greengages and two kinds of cherries. We even had a quince tree and a walnut tree.

My elder brother was in the Navy and my younger brother was in the army. They both got safely through the war.

During the war there was a big American camp in Milton. When you went out at night, everything was black. I’d been out with friends and was going home when I turned round suddenly and saw...just two eyes, as plain as anything! He was a coloured serviceman from the camp!

During the evening, if the siren went and I was on duty fire-watching for the road, I’d have to go out straight away, even if I was in my pyjamas!

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