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World War Two Is Declared - Life On The Home Front.

by actiondesksheffield

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
actiondesksheffield
People in story: 
Dorothy Wright (nee Bentley)
Location of story: 
Sheffield
Article ID: 
A6193019
Contributed on: 
18 October 2005

On Honeymoon in Blackpool - Jacquie in 1941 and aged 2 years and 3 months.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Dorothy Wright, and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs. Wright fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
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Hitler had invaded Poland and war had been declared. We all carried our gas masks now, though it was not a habit which continued for very long, as people became blasé when no gas attacks were reported. Everyone had to obey the blackout rules and many folk stuck brown paper tape across their window panes in an effort to stop the glass from flying if the windows got broken by blast.

I had left Deighton at this point and got a job in the centre of Sheffield, at Tupholmes Sheffield Limited, which was a warehouse and wholesale business selling household goods. Here I met Eric Tupholme who was the motorist with whom John had collided on that Christmas Eve and he told me his story of the accident.

This Firm was selling out of dark paper blinds that people were seeking to keep the lights from shining out when it was dark. Motorists had to have a kind of shield on their car headlights and of course the streetlights were turned off too. War was declared and that same night there was an air raid alarm. I do not think that any bombs were dropped at this time but it gave people a shock and a warning of what was to come to our country.

Food was becoming scarce even at this early stage, as people were stocking up, having heard of the shortages of the previous war. It did not take long for shortages to appear in the clothes trade and the furniture trade, and eventually everything was short or none existent and rationing began. The ration books must have been held in readiness long before the war began.

We were married on August 10th 1940 at 8 am, the earliest time for weddings to be carried out. My cousin Jean was bridesmaid and my Cousin Jack, newly back from Dunkirk, gave the bride away. John’s mother had been difficult, she had hidden away the banns which had been delivered from the Whiston Church, and John had had to go to search for them. She did not even get up to wish him well when he left the house, but his dad did. John’s sister Margaret and brother in law Joe would not bother to come to the wedding because John had not arranged for a car to pick them up to come to the church.

A couple who were our friends, brought John to the church and the young man acted as Best Man. His name escapes me at the moment though his surname was Weightman. I think his name may have been Terry. After the ceremony the verger, Joyce Hulett’s dad carried the suitcases to the bottom of Burgoyne Road and there was an empty Sheffield United Tours bus to take us to Blackpool for our honeymoon, waiting for us. My friends and relations bidding us farewell and good luck, threw confetti into the bus and at the eventual pickups, people got on to the bus saying “It looks as if there has been a wedding,” and gave us a good look over. Don’t forget this was a wartime wedding and things were very difficult. The journey to Blackpool took forever as we ran into road blocks en route and this caused hold ups. We stayed with Mr and Mrs Stainton who were the parents of a fellow who had previously worked at Deighton and was now at Blackpool. I recall that we went to the pictures that night to see the film Pinocchio. We had a good honeymoon and returned to remove to Rotherham the following week. Readers may think the circumstances with John’s mother were very strange but the same kind of leaving the family home happened to both his sisters before him. Hilda Lucy Wright was a strange woman.

John and I got married on August 10th 1940 and we managed to exchange my grandma's house after she had died, with a couple in Rotherham who wanted to move to Sheffield to be near to relatives, so we moved almost immediately to Marlowe Road, Herringthorpe, Rotherham, and remained there until November 7th, year 2002 when we needed to get more convenient accommodation to suit John in his illness. He passed away on January 14th 2004. We had been married 64 years.

During the war, John had continued to work as a mechanic on the large lorries belonging to the army, as Deighton Motor Company became an Army Auxiliary workshop.

Our daughter Jacqueline was born on August 20th 1941, so her baby years were spent during the war and she never saw a banana until well into the war years, when a sailor who visited Deighton gave John a tiny banana, about three inches long and as thick as one's finger. Clothing was a problem and we made do and swapped and changed things, but we got along. The men who were still at home had to take up air raid duties, nightly parading the streets in case of any damage. Sheffield suffered greatly in two nights of blitz in December, many people lost their lives, and many more lost their homes.

Thus it was a time of great changes. We began to learn of the concentration camps of the Germans and eventually, much later on, the wickedness of the Japanese to our men in the far east. Gradually, little by little, we found we lived in a changed world.

We had shortages of everything really, clothing, food, furniture, coal, etc., and we had ration books and clothing coupons to ensure fair shares. Newspapers became very small, as paper was in short supply, and this was the time when we could not buy wallpaper so the practice of painting over the paper with distemper, or what evolved as Walpamur, the fore runner of emulsion paint.

During the War it was often necessary to have children doing their lessons in the homes of the other children. Sometimes it would be caused by enemy action having destroyed or damaged a school, and at other times it could have been because the school was short of heating facilities, and the teacher would take a class here and there. Jacquie had not started school at this time so she was at home during her first five years.

Nurseries grew up in this period, in order that some mothers could go out to work. This was the time when it became the norm for women to go out to work, as before this, a woman was expected to stop working when she became married, although during the war, mothers with small children were not expected to work.

The extra income was very useful, so women continued to work after the war and now it is practically expected that two salaries are necessary in married life these days. This brought the growth of nursery groups for the under fives and now most small children have one or two half days in a pre school environment.

Our days of rationing continued for several years after the end of the war and the statistics show that we were a healthier nation in those days than the present generations are with the modern eating habits.

Pr-BR

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