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Ethel Rettie's Story

by Lancshomeguard

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ethel Rettie and Family
Location of story: 
Burnley, Lancashire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 August 2005

This story has been added to the People’s War website by Anne Wareing of the Lancashire Home Guard on behalf of Ethel Rettie, the story is in her own words..

I had my tonsils out during the war. I remember all the windows being blacked out so I didn’t know whether it was day or night. I was only in a couple of days so I didn’t have any visitors. I was nine at the time at the time and as thin as a rake. When the nurse picked me she was surprised how little I weighed.

I went home in an ambulance with dark window (you could see out, but other people couldn’t see in) and I always remember the ladies down the street coming running to see what had happened, they’d not seen an ambulance in the street before.

M and S had just opened in Burnley and my mother bought me a watch with luminious numbers, very useful for the blackout.

My dad worked in Liverpool; he was a slater, repairing bomb damage. When he came home he used to bring me bananas, oranges and toffee (he’d worked at Williamson’s Factory). I could only eat these in the house in case the other children got jealous.

He also brought me a burnt out incendiary bomb, which I used to keep in my toy drawer. Only one other child knew about it.

I did quite well for toys. I was the only girl on the street so I used to get a lot of hand-me-downs from much older girls. I’m still known as ‘little Ethel’ by some of them!

I remember being at senior school and knitting balaclavas, pullovers and socks. I got a letter from a British airman who was a prisoner of war, thanking me for the balaclava. You had to stitch into each item a label with your name and the address of your school (Burnley Wood Girl’s School).

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