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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Evelyn Dorothy Catt (nee White)
Location of story: 
Brighton
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5091329
Contributed on: 
15 August 2005

I was 14 years old when war was declared. I’d left school in July 1939, and went for an interview for a job at the local Co-Operative Society, London Road, Brighton. I started at the end of August, a few days before 3rd September.

We were told there would be a fire drill, and instructed to go to the top floor. There was a rushing sound and gun fire, and through the windows, could see planes overhead. We flung ourselves prostrate onto the floor, as we saw through the window at least six planes with swastikas on them, and bombs were falling. It all happened so quickly, they were so close we could almost see the faces of the pilots. We were told that they were coming to bomb the Railway Viaduct at Beaconsfield Road. This was my first experience of war.

We slept in an Anderson Shelter in our front room (our dog, “Mac” as well, but unfortunately he was so nervous and got so upset with the noise he had to be put to sleep. I have never forgotten him)

Being a member of the Girl Guides we did all we could for the war effort, raising money, rolling bandages etc.

On Saturday evenings there was always a ‘6d hop’. All the boys on leave would come to the Moulsecoomb Hall (at the bottom of the Avenue) for a marvellous dance, super band and singers. I would help with the refreshments.

While the boys were away, the organisations were short of leaders, so on Thursday nights, I ran the Cubs. The only way I could keep them quiet was by reading to them! It took me a week to get over it, and then it was on again! Some weeks there were over 30 boys, as I’d not got the heart to have a waiting list!

As I got older, I worked to ‘to do my bit’, so as my Dad was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service I joined also. I felt important in my uniform. I was on duty two nights a week on the telephones, after which I went home to breakfast and back to work. Life was very busy, but we got used to it.

We had chickens and ducks in our garden — to help feed us. Dad was so good with his allotment, and at Christmas we had turkeys. Dad was magic with ‘managing’ and he used to repair our shoes, and send for soles to stick on. Of course, Mum mended everything in sight! — and we were quite proud of our darns and patches! She did wonderful meals with our rations, and although sometimes I think she put more on our plates than her own!

There was a wonderful spirit during the war period. People certainly thought more of others than they do now. I think, those of us who went through this time appreciate more of what we have, and have a contentment which comes from being satisfied with what we have.

This story has been entered on the site by Elizabeth Legate on behalf of Evelyn Catt, with her permission. Evelyn fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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