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15 October 2014
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Wartime Wedding Receptions

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Dorothy Parker; Mrs Moore; Grace Jenkins
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Contributed on: 
16 August 2005

This story has been added to the website by Eleanor Fell, on behalf of Dorothy Parker, who has given her permission for her wartime memory to be added to the site and she understands the terms and conditions of the website.

We belonged to a Methodist Church where we had a thriving Sunday School, about 500 children, also a very successful Girl’s Life Brigade (GLB) and Boy’s Brigade (BB). It was great when the teenagers paired off. Then came the War — I can’t recall how many weddings there were. I was lucky in having a Mum who was a great cook and organizer, and a dad who had been a chef ( on Canadian Pacific Railway) and was always called on at ‘do’s’ to carve the meat as he could always slice it thinner than anyone!

So when a wedding was in the offing, Mum and her pal Mrs. Moore used to organize the reception — friends and relatives of the happy couple would beg for tins of fruit, sugar etc. from relatives in Canada, USA. Everyone concerned would save coupons and points for months then the best cooks would produce sausage rolls trifles etc. The meat ration was usually one shilling per week but when joints were scarce, it used to be ten-pence meat and two- pence corned beef. (My sister-in-law’s dad was a butcher and a VERY helpful one shhh!)

Bakeries had excellent artificial wedding cakes which they would lend and there might be a sponge cake or a fruit cake hidden underneath. Friends were willing to lend cutlery with different cotton tied round to identify them. I was often waitress. Mum used to charge 1/3d a head for their services which went to Church funds.

V.E. Day 8th May 1945 Dorothy Parker

We knew the War was nearly over, we were so excited then…’The Germans are going to sign…it might be on the 6th…any time now…if they sign on the 6th, the 7th will be VE Day but we have to have some notice to announce a Bank Holiday; if they sign late, VE Day will be officially on the 8th.’

They had not signed by midnight so we went to work as usual on the 7th. Most people had stayed at home but the Bank had to be ready for customers. One came in so we had to open up the books, but there was practically nothing to do. The manager suggested that we should have our sandwiches together and pass the time telling stories of our best war time memories. He started: his favourite was when the Bank windows were smashed by a nearby bomb and he appointed himself to climb the ladder with a hammer and remove the remaining glass — smash — “Clydesdale Bank Limited” — gone! He enjoyed that! Then a messenger who lived above the Bank told of the same occasion when the blast had filled his flat with dust — and worst of all — ‘sob, sob a b-b-basin of d-d (sob) dripping was covered in soot and they couldn’t eat it! He was really crying and we were too with laughter.

Then at 3.30p.m we went by underground to Trafalgar Square, walked with thousands of others towards the Palace where we cheered Churchill and the Royal Family, millions of us laughing, singing the War songs, crying with joy, hugging and kissing JOY ‘We want Churchill…We want the King!’ The cheers when they appeared…UNFORGETTABLE.

Leading to V.J. Day 15th August 1945 Dorothy Parker

The pleasant Jenkins Family lived in Edinburgh- he was a naval officer/commanding travel- Waverly Station: daughter Grace, a nurse was sent to a hospital near us. Dad met her at Church and invited her to treat our house as home. She was O.K., spent free time with us (except I lent her my final school prize ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which she lost- irreplaceable!) Her parents visited - nice folk. They had a son Arthur, six months younger than I a naval draughts man, with V.J. Day looming he was invited to stay with us and explore London. Being a Bank Holiday on the 15th I gave him a guided tour finishing at the Palace singing and cheering- not as fervent as VE day! Then home very late, parents were in bed; to my horror (almost) Arthur proposed. We hadn’t even held hands! I had lost my fiancé during the allied landing in Italy 10.07.43 and was not looking for another — so sorry but no. Next morning was a working day so breakfast was early. Mum asked if we’d had a good day and mentioned she thought he would have proposed. ‘He did’ I said — joy unconfined.
‘I said no’
“I don’t love him. I don’t even know him. Oh woe! The navy sent him to Singapore. Then for weeks after that at breakfast Mum would say “I wonder what poor Arthur is doing today? I wonder how poor Arthur is.” I told Mum later that if I had had a leaning towards him I would have been put off by her remarks. She stopped.

A year later there was a bit in the personal ads of The Telegraph. “Doff I still love you, Arthur.” His parents sent the cutting to mine. I guess Mrs Jenkins sent it. I think it must have been intended for me — not many girls are called Doff. So that is my VJ memory.

I was singing in the Church Choir when a fellow member nudged me and pointed to the name of a tune composer D.Jenkins. That would have been me if I’d married “Poor Arthur” He later married a church organist with two daughters in Orpington my parents went. Poor Arthur- poor me!

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