- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs Ruby Fordham
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 June 2005
[This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on behalf of Ruby Fordham and has been added to the site with her permission. Mrs Fordham fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.]
When war broke out I was 18 and had been out of school a year. I was working on food distribution for the Co-op and when rationing came in, we had to keep registers of what people had.
I was called up for the fire service and I was on the switchboard one night in six. My station was known as 3Z and it was on Arbury Road.
After working at the Co-op all day I went on duty at 7 pm, and stayed on until 11 pm. If I had a ‘live watch’ through the night, I would sleep on a bunk at the Fire Station.
I remember once that I was asked to go in and wake up a man for duty. I was very uncomfortable with going up to a man in bed and said to the Officer, “My mother wouldn’t like it.” I was 20! I can remember the officer replying, “No one is your MOTHER do anything.”
To help my work, I went to evening classes to learn the method of book-keeping. Some of the men I got to know there were up learning to fly planes — and they couldn’t even drive a car!
Whenever there was a call from the centre of Cambridge, it was a full call-out: the buildings were very old and close together.
I was a keen netball and hockey player and played netball for the Fire Service. I was chosen to play for the County. We didn’t have sirens in those days — there were big brass bells on the fire engines. When we won the cup one year, they allowed me to ring the bell.
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