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"A WARTIME CHILDHOOD IN HULL, BOSTON & LEICESTER"

by AgeConcernShropshire

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
AgeConcernShropshire
People in story: 
Dorothy Brown (nee Utton); George Charles BROWN (future husband) Kathleen Fox; Albert Utton
Location of story: 
Hull, East Yorkshire & Boston, Lincolnshire; Leicester, Leicestershire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4136519
Contributed on: 
31 May 2005

I was 13 when the war was declared on the 3rd September, 1939. I was evacuated from Hull to Scunthorpe and didn't see my family for 2 months. My friend Kathleen Fox and I were then evacuated to Boston and placed with farm workers who had a tiny one bedroom cottage. We had to sleep on a mattress on the landing floor, we couldn't get into the cottage until 10.00 p.m. when they came home from work. This was not a good place.

We were were then sent to a farm in Boston where we stayed for 3 months. It was a good place to stay, the people there were very kind and fed us well.

We then went back to our parents in Hull. Life was very difficult, because Hull is so low-lying the air-raid shelters had to be built above ground. At 4.00 p.m. the gas and electricity were shut off. My father made our Shelter quite comfortable, we took what we needed to get through the night. We had an old wind-up gramophone and one record ("You are my Sunshine"/"Faraway Places"). The more the bombs fell the louder we played the record.

At night when getting ready for bed, clothes had to be put on a chair in the order there were taken off, so that if the air-raid siren went off you could get dressed very quickly. We did not want to sleep in our day clothes every night. As time went by we got braver about staying longer in the house before going into the shelter and in going back into the house sooner after an air-raid.

Machine guns were mounted at the end of our road, as the enemy planes approached to attack they switched off their engines so they couldn't be heard. We would get caught in the crossfire on our way to school. We would lay down on the road and
count to 10, we then we knew we were Ok this time.

One night we were completely bombed out, all we were left with were 2 suitcases, the budgie and the wireless. We then went to stay with friends in Leicester. They got us a home and found a job for my father.

When I was 14 I started work at Thornylow & Clarkes making army uniforms, this is where I learnt to be a tailoress. The pay was very very poor, only ten shillings a week, including Saturday morning. My dad got me
a "sit-up and beg" bike for getting to work, the bus fare was three shillings and sixpence, so after giving mum five shillings for housekeeping I didn't have much left.

I then got another job as a welder at the Dunlop Tyre Factory making aeroplane tyres. The work was very hard and tiring but I was paid as much for 1 day as I was for the whole week with my first job.

I met my future husband George when he was stationed in Leicester. When he was stationed in Europe (he took part in the D-Day landings) I used to send him soap and writing paper.

AFTERNOTE: After the War I was told about my father's brother, Albert Utton. Uncle Albert received the the French Croix de Guerre (the equivalent of our Victoria Cross) for service in the Great War.

During WW2, he served in the Secret Service, and was entrusted with the keys for Hull Docks. In the event that should we be invaded by the Germans he was to go to the Docks and blow them up so that they could not be used by the Germans and neither could they learn valuable information about Britain's war effort.

My husband's story "George Brown's War with the Middlesex Regiment" can be found at A6373947 and "Thanks from the Burgermasters of Goeree and Oberflakkee" can be found at A7363316.

Story: This story has been submitted to the People's War site by Muriel Palmer (volunteer) of Age Concern Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on behalf of D Brown (author) and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

see more of Dorothy Brown's stories and photographs:

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