- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Elsie Joan Kettle
- Location of story:
- Royal Ordnance Depot, Feltham, Middlesex, Garrison Theatre,
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 April 2005
MY CALL UP
When war was declared I worked for a transport firm - The Midland Motor Omnibus Company which made me exempt.
But later when I was twenty I was called up and drafted into the Womens Auxillary Territorial Service and posted to Catterick Camp.
Just one week before I was due to go I was taken ill with accute appendicitus which turned into peritinitis. I managed to survive but was kept in hospital for a month.
The army didn't give me much time to recuperate and when I recovered I was posted to Yatwere camp which was a race course near Northampton. I was there for six weeks - a bit longer then usual - as one of the 104 girls developed chicken post. My mother could not remember if I had it as a child - so we both were put in quarantine with five other girls. When I was better I was sent to an Ordnance depot situated in a barracks in Feltham in Middlesex and situated 12 miles from London.
DOODLE BUGS OVER LONDON
I was billeted with families for a while. At first when the sirens went I used to go down under the stairs, but in the end I stayed in bed and risked it! Then we girls were move and put into the barracks. As we were do near London we could hear all the bombs dropping. I think most were on Hendon or near there.
When the doodle bugs started to come over we could heat them and then suddenly they would just drop.
One night when we were in bed we heard a terrible crash. The Commanding Officer appeared in the doorway and said don't worry girls it won't happen again. Then some of us got up to see what had happened and we found that one had dropped on the Garrison Theatre - so no one was injured and we were all very lucky.
WORKING AS A 'LABOROUR'.
When I was interviewed to see which job I was to do, I thought I would have a chenge from clerical work and was put on to the labouring side. This was not too bad as all we had to do was paint blue circles with a green bar underneath on to packing cases to identify the contents for the boys who were fighting in Europe.
Eventually the men were removed from the barracks to another camp at Houndslow. I slept in the top bunk and the woman in the bed underneath who was about 40 year old or thereabouts kept all her undearwear and sockings on. She put a nightdress on and over that a thick dress and a coat.
One night she went to bed early and a few of us sat around the fire talking. Suddenly she fetched a cup of water and threw it on the fire. When we asked her why she did that she said it was too hot - so I told her to take off some of her clothes! I suppose I must have shouted at her because the next morning she told everyone I had shouted at her and said she always thought I was a nice girl!
Eventually I made friends with three other girls and we often went up to London to the London Palladium to see the shows. The person I remember most was Dorothy Squires -I always thought she was a lovely singer.
We also had shows at the Garrison Theatre which was attached to the depot. Once we saw a variety group called Mr Smith entertains - where I recall Issy Bonn singing. We also had film shows to keep us entertained.
Life went on until VE day and after a while we were all disbanded to other camps. I was sent to a camp near Nottingham which I remember was built on a sand bank and when we dried ourselves after a bath the towel was covered in sand - so I was glad to go home on leave to get a decent bath.
I was only at this camp for about six months when I was sent to Ashton under Lyme near Manchester to be demobbed - so that was the end of my life in the ATS.
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