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Dot's war

by CSV Solent

Contributed by 
CSV Solent
People in story: 
Dorothy Nunn
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by John on behalf of Dorothy Nunn and has been added to the site with her permission. Dorothy fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

A Talk with Dorothy (Dott) NUNN

I was 12 years old when the war started, I had always imagined that war was always in darkness. In 1939 we were told we were at war I realise how different our lives were going to be. I was living in Winchester in Milland Road with my parents and elder sister. It was not until I read the Daily Express that I realised what the war was all about — my Dad tried to explain it as he had been in the 1st World War in the 1st/4th Hampshire Regiment.
I remember people having Anderson Shelters, which people crawled into, Dad build an Anderson Shelter in the back garden. I wandered what war was all about and said that I wasn’t going into that shelter, to which my Mum said, ‘you may be glad to!’ When the first air raid started I was shopping in
Winchester @ 5pm, collecting shoes from the menders —MR JONES- then to the fruiterers — Muriel JOHNSON. I was talking to her when the sirens went off — this was the first time for real! I was anxious to get home which was a ten-minute walk. On reaching Milland Rd, I Mr DAYMAN, an Air Raid Warden, said to me ‘hurry up and get home, Dot’, I hurried up all right but there was a terrible bang. I got indoors shaking like a leaf and all my mother said was ‘where’s your shoes & where’s the other vegetables!’ I was in a ‘hell of a state’ and father said ‘bugger the potatoes, get her in the shelter!’ This was the 1st raid on Southampton, but they didn’t actually hit Winchester. The ‘All Clear’ went and there was a knock at the door and Mrs Bath, an ARA Warden had brought the shopping home! I didn’t go Saturday evening shopping again but I now realised what War was all about and grew up fast at the age of 12! Unofficially I went and helped my Dad, Captain Davis, as a firewatcher in Milland House. He said ‘you can make the tea!’ I thought I was very grown up!
When I was 14 I became an air raid warden —‘as you’ve got a bike you can be a ‘runner’. I did feel important! Then I went to work at Mr Watson’,’ in High St opposite what is now HMV, the London Bizarre. My mother became ill with a liver problem and I had to care for her as my sister was working — doing important work- repairing Walrus aircraft. I moved to another job to get more money. One day, before I went to work, the sirens went, the guns were firing and there were bombs on the corner of Jewry Street. Miss Murray, a Hyde Street firewoman, was killed and there were 6 bombs in the park by the leisure centre.
One day inn the summer a Junker’s 88 was brought down, but before it crashed it released its bombs on the side of Morestead Down. The pilot parachuted to safety and was captured. He had been at Winchester College and had only left a year before the war started! He was interned — poor little devil — and was such a nice bloke! Up at the Lido you could see the dogfights overhead. When the ‘all clear’ came the boys were diving into the pool to pick up the shell cases that had fallen there! One of the lads said ‘do you want one, Dot? — Yes please!’ I took it home and showed Mum my souvenir of the dogfight; she nearly passed out! When Dad came home she asked him if he would clean it as he had done with some WW1 shells but Mum said ‘I’ll not have that thing in the house’.
As I got older I became more independent and went up to London to visit my Aunt Bessie who lived at Waterloo. Here, Dad’s cousin’s took me to the theatre and I remember seeing Tommy Trinder. The siren went and we all went into the underground. Who should follow us but Tommy Trinder and he really kept the people going by getting the people singing songs.
I also went to Portsmouth and saw terrible sights in Warden Rd and Stanshaw Rd. In the morning I was to meet my Aunt NELL (Mrs Hines) and had just got to the end of Warden Rd when the sirens went and a plane came over firing at us. I was with a warden and he said ‘get in the bloody shelter’ and threw me over the wall to protect me from the shells. Guns from HMS EXCELLENT brought the plane down.
I used to get 2 weeks holiday - because I was ‘in service’ so that I was at home when the war finished. That night we all went to the Broadway where the Mayor — Lt FH Griffiths — a lovely man, made a speech. There were hundreds of people around King Alfred’s statue — singing, dancing, jitterbugging and singing ‘Land of Hope @ Glory’; I got home at 2pm!
PS: Bushfield Camp was bombed in 194-? And 19 soldiers were killed.

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