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15 October 2014
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1940: conscripted into the ATS

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Dorothy Joan Golding (nee Young)
Location of story: 
Farnham, surrey; Honiton, Devon; Ashbourne Grove, Derbyshire
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A4386620
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Ann Gowland from Farnham Library and has been added to the website on behalf of Dorothy Golding with her permission and they fully understand the site's terms & conditions. When I was nineteen I was conscripted into the ATS. One of nine children, I was brought up in Arthur Road, Farnham. My father was a master painter and decorator, and was a bit of a Victorian. I didn't want to to be called up so I volunteered to be a milk girl, despite being terrified of horses. But I was conscripted anyway.
I always remember the day we were sent by train down to Honiton in Devon. It seemed such a long way! I'd never been far from home before. From Honiton station we had to march through the town, we girls in our "civis", some of the girls all dolled up with long hair, but I was just in my Sunday best cardigan and skirt, I was a vcountry girl you see. I remeber that it was a hot day and the locals stared at us marching by, men and women standing with their arms folded outside their cottages as we passed on the cobbled road.
We were taken to a hall and kitted out in khaki gear: great big silk knickers that came right down to your knees with elastic round the bottoms where you used to keep your handkerchief! we had three pairs of these and two shirts, together with ties, skirts and jackets, khaki stockings and brown shoes. We were given a hairbrush each and a toothbrush and a button cleaning kit.
then we had injections, it was horrible. We were in a camp, under canvas, for six weeks. I was in atent with three other girls and we were all so homesick, the girls cried at night. I was homesick too, but I soon made friends. My special pal was Sylvia Turner, we still keep in touch. There was Joyce Steadman from Epsom and a girl called "Basil" from up north who made everyone laugh, especially when we had to go to car maintenance lectures with a sergeant, and Basil's jokes made him blush. The good thing was we were all trwated the same.
The only entertainment we had to go to was one pub. There I had my first experienceof drinking cider. I asked for a lemonade, but the others urged me to try "cider from the wood". i had three glasses (only 6d a glass) it tasted lovely! But of course I didn't realise how strong it was! if my father had known he would have been furious. We were innocent people in those days. i never had a cider after that. when i came home on my first leave (48 hours), my father met me at Farnham station and he took me to the Duke of Cambridge and bought me my first port and lemon. Of course, i never dared to tell him about going to the pub with the girls!
After six weeks I was sent to Ashbourne Grove, in Derbyshire. I had to do all sorts of work for the ordinance, repairing uniforms. the sad thing was how we had to turn out the pockets of the old uniforms, and there were letters and photographs and personal things, it made you feel so sad.
Later I was sent to Aldershot, for compassionate reasons, to be nearer to my mother, who was ill. I spent the rest of the war stationed at Aldershot and I had to work in a factory alongside civilians, who were paid much more than we were, which made us feel a bit bitter. we only got paid 9 shillings and twopence a week, we didn't think it was fair we got so little.
My "war wound2 was a septic leg I got caused by my khaki stockings being too tight. I've still got a scar from the operation. I was in St Mary's ward at the Cambridge hospital in Aldershot - when my parents came to visit my mother was horrified "this is the maternity ward!" she said, but I said, "my goodness me, mother". I had my leg all strapped up and I was in agony.
The good thing about it all was getting to know some super girls and everyone being treated the same.

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