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Maureen Smith's War

by Lancshomeguard

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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Margaret Smith and Family
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Contributed on: 
06 August 2005

This story has been submitted to the People’s War website by Anne Wareing of the Lancashire Home Guard on behalf of Maureen Smith and has been added to the site with her permission…

I was 6 when the war began and living with mum, dad and my brother in Southport. I attended Dagfield School in Birkdale; we only had lady teachers due to the men going away. Miss Brown was nice and we had to take our gas masks in cardboard boxes with us at all times and carry identity cards.

My dad was the manager of a munitions factory producing barrage balloons in Old Hall St. Liverpool. He was called to the Police Station and informed by MI 5 that he was on a ‘hit’ list and he was given a revolver and bullets in case of an invasion. This made him rather scared and jittery, he always seemed to be at work, sometimes sleeping there all night.

Mum grew vegetables, tomatoes and cucumbers in the garden along with keeping 25 Rhode Island Reds, we used to gather scraps to feed them from the neighbours and swap them for eggs. A loaf at the time cost 4d, which was 4 old pennies, and some of the cars ran on gas, they had inflated bags of it on the car roof.

One day a Home Guard Captain called at the house to say in the event of the telephone lines being down, they would like to put an Aldis lamp on to our roof. So that they would be able to flash a message from it to Birkdale in the event of an emergency. Mum agreed to this and the following night they came and were up on the roof fixing it when dad suddenly came home. He, not knowing anything about it, saw these men on the roof, got his gun and made them come down one at a time with their hands on their head. Of course they were old men in the Home Guard uniform, real Dad’s Army.

My dad’s brother had been killed and his parents had passed away. One day he was in the factory when the sirens went, he heard his mother’s voice telling him to get out. He told the girls working on the machines to leave immediately, but they were reluctant to do so. So he had to insist that they left, taking them to under the arches at James St Station. The factory was bombed and demolished; they would have all been killed. Following this his work moved to Bootle making Bailey bridge pontoons, he was later to be awarded the MBE.

My brother and I used to go to the canteen at the factory and run around from department to department. In one of them was a row of lorries; my brother ran and jumped on to one of them; he bounced, they were made of rubber. Mock lorries to be dispatched to Egypt and filled with air to make the enemy think we had more manpower than we had. Of course they were top secret the people working on them weren’t very pleased that we had found out about them and we were sworn to secrecy, we hadn’t even to tell mum, father gave us a real lecture and made us sign the official secret act.

I remember going on holiday to Laxey on the Isle of Man, sailing from Fleetwood, we had to wear lifejackets all the way across.

There were Italian P.O.W’s in the hotels on the promenade at Douglas and they would return our ‘Boo’s’ as we drove passed them in a horse drawn landau. They used to make things and I have a carved ship in a bottle made by one of them. At Port Erin you would see foreigners and aliens sunning themselves on the sea front.

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