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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Salley's Waricon for Recommended story

by Rolandcsvscr

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Salley Chantler; Geoff Chantler (Brother-in-Law)
Location of story: 
Liverpool and vicinity
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
10 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roland Gardner from Sidley I.T. Centre, and has been added to the website on behalf of Salley Chantler with her permission, and she fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.


I am Salley Chantler. I was 20 years old when war broke out. In 1940 I lived in Bromborough, near Port Sunlight, and I commuted to work through the Mersey Tunnel to Liverpool, where I worked for a Film Rental Company. One morning on my mile long walk from the Tunnel to my place of work, I passed the tram depot. There had been a large air raid the previous night and in front of the depot were rows of burnt out trams and piles and piles of overhead electric wires, which had been brought down by the bombing and collected from the streets. The big office buildings, including the Liver Building had lost all their windows. On each street corner huge piles of glass had been swept into mounds.

My brother-in-law, Geoff Chantler, was a Spitfire Pilot. During his training, mindful of the shortages caused by the rationing, he would sometimes fly low over the family home. Whilst passing over, with the cockpit canopy open, he would flip the plane onto its back, and toilet rolls would cascade out. A special delivery for the family loo!

In 1941 I joined the Land Army and went to work on Forge Farm at Scholar Green. One week, in the summer of 1941, I was home on leave. There had been a large air raid on Liverpool Docks on the Saturday night and, on Sunday morning, a huge column of smoke was rising from the still burning buildings and billowing across the river and over our house. We were between 3 and 4 miles from the fires, but burning ashes descended on our heads as we watched the smoke. I picked up a piece of, still smouldering, letterhead from a shipping office on the dockside.

One of the buildings on Forge Farm had once been a watermill. It had three floors and was rented from the farmer by the Ministry of Food as an Emergency Food Depot. Two men, who were beyond the maximum age for war service, the farmer, and one land girl (me) had to unload the food lorries as they arrived, and stack the cases on each of the three floors. One day as I was working on the first floor, my foot went right through the boards up to my thigh. Despite this evidence that the wooden floors were rotten, the farmer was not going to say anything that might jeopardise his income from the Ministry. A few nights later, the top floor collapsed, taking the other two floors with it, and the whole lot ended up as a pile of broken cases on the ground level.

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