- Contributed by
- CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
- People in story:
- Clarice Elvina Ibbotson
- Location of story:
- South Yorkshire - near Sheffield
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 July 2005
I was 11 years old when the Second World War started. We, my Mum, Dad, brother Duncan and me lived in a bungalow in 2 acres of land between Rotherham and Sheffield. You would call us self-sufficient as we had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and 2 pigs. We also had an orchard of apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. There was all sorts of soft fruit which mother bottled or stewed and a garden full of vegetables.
Mother was very thrifty, as was everyone and we only had our rations of meat, sugar, tea and milk and she magically produced everything else. In fact everyone who saved us peelings and vegs had a part of our pig when it was killed. Grandma used to cut it up and salt petre it, and we made use of every part of it down to the bladder which my brother had as a football. We had a large bath of eggs in waterglass.
Our Anderson shelter was incorporated into a rockery just outside my bedroom window, and one night, either the Thursday or the Sunday of the Sheffield blitz, Dad called “Jump Elvy” and I had to put on my siren suit — made by Mum out of an RAF blanket and I jumped into my Dad’s arms and he bundled me into the shelter which we had kitted out for a siege with a cupboard full of tinned food, piles of comics, 2 or 4 bunk beds and a stove and blankets, etc. My father was in the Home Guard, and one night he had to go to the next bungalow which was made of asbestos and had an incendiary bomb dropped through the roof and was on fire. My Dad had to break in because the lady was in hospital, and put out the fire. My dad was a deputy down the pit and worked in difficult situations, crawling through water. He was killed just after the war ended. He was only 43. We could tell which airoplanes were ours and which were the enemy’s. We could also recognise our Ack Ack guns in the next village. We got quite used to our raids in the end, bearing in mind what the Germans were after were the munitions factories between Rotherham and Sheffield. We were only 6 miles away. We got used to our raids so much that Mum used to leave us in bed and she and Dad fire-watched. One night a bomb dropped in our next village. We heard it drop and we were allowed to go and look at the large crater 2 days later. We were overawed and we were all delighted when we found shrapnel also.
In those days communities were very close, everyone helped each other. I wanted to join Girl Guides but there were none in our village. I had to wait until nearly after the war when I joined the Ranger Guides. We 5 Rangers had jobs to do and one was to visit a lot of evacuee Dutch children, teach them English, make them toys and take them for walks — in fact to make them feel at home as best we could. I made a gollywog and my Dutch girl was so thrilled. We visited them until they were sent back to Holland. So I started my voluntary work early when I started college in Sheffield. Of course I had to take my gasmask, that went everywhere. I can remember gasmask training at school in the school shelter — I couldn’t breathe..
I can honestly say that although we were at war my childhood was wonderful.
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