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Contributed by 
Romsey Community School, Hampshire
People in story: 
Millie Harris
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 July 2004

We interviewed an 87 year old lady named Millie Harris. When war was declared she was 21,living in Edinborough in a small town called Dunfermline with her husband and two children, ages 1 and 2. During the war her husband was posted with the 8th army in Egypt, she also had two cousins one flying spitfires and the other flew Lancaster Bombers. Her parents were in Burma throughout the war and it was where her father was killed. Millie didn't work during the war but grew her own vegetables and looked after her children.
During the war Edinborough and the area around it suffered heavy bombing because of the docks, as destroyers and other ships came in for repair, and because of the railway links with the rest of Britain. Millie lived near the 4th road bridge in Edinborough this meant that they underwent heavy bombing because the bridge was important to get supplies from the docks to the rest of Scotland. Even though the bridge was repeatedly bombed it was luckily never hit.
Due to the large threat of bombing Millies husband built an Anderson shelter in their back garden. Millie always went to the shelter when there was an air raidas she had to look after her two children, even though it was cold and damp.She said that although the bombing was scary what scared her most was the shrapnel and machine guns. Millie had a terrifying experienca on the 4th bridge when she was shot at with a machine gun.Although Edinborough was heavily bombed there were no community shelters so everyone was expected to build their own.
Millie found that there were so many things she had to cope with during the war. Rationing was always hardwork and she never saw an egg throughout the war,as she lived in the city there were no hend so she had dried egg which as you can imagine tasted terriblr. There was also a huge shortage of flour, sugar, butter and meat. To make food go further she often mixed rice or breadcrumbs with meatsoit seemed like more than it was, margarine was also added to butter. Many recipes were also provided which showed better use of different foods. Cloth was also rationed and as at that time there were no pampers or huggies she struggled to find fabric to make nappies.
The Americans spent a lot of time in Edinborough and brought with them lovely foods that were counted as a real treat such as tinned fruit. This often attracted the British women to them. Americans also brough different types of music with them like jazz with sigers such as Vera Lynn. Millie recalled all the young people would dance as a way of keeping up moral however she was too busy with her children to spend time dancing.
In Edinborough there were many foreigners such as Americans and polish escapees and Norwewgian. Millie found that the polish were quite attractive and many British women ended up falling for them.
Communication during the war was hard so Millie relied on her wireless to know what was happening. She didn't know for a long time taht her father had died. Also in Edinborough it was important to keep quiet about war topics incase of spies.
Throughout all the hardship of the war the one thing that kept Millie going was the sound of Churchills voice on the wireless.
The war brought many people closer together people worked together and knew the fears everyone else had. "There was a lovely spirit of helping each other" Millie remembered.
At the end of the war there was a lot of singing and dancing everyone was so happy. Millie said how wonderful it was to see her husband again. Thought the main war had ended her husband was sent to Palastine to fight for a while after D-Day.
Although Millie suffered a lot she feels no hate towards the Nazis just sad because of what happened.
By Megan and Sarah.

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Posted on: 12 July 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

This is a good school project, but there are some glaring errors, not the fault of Millie, and some corrections are needed.

"Millie lived near the 4th road bridge in Edinborough ... Millie had a terrifying experienca on the 4th bridge when she was shot at with a machine gun."

Edinburgh (sic, not Edinborough) does not have 4 bridges, hence no 4th bridge. There are two bridges over the Firth of Forth: the Forth Rail Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. But the road bridge wasn't opened until 1964, building only started in 1958. The Forth Rail Bridge was opened in 1890, but it is for trains only and there is no pedestrian walkway and Millie would not have had access to it. Pedestrians crossed by the ferry from North Queensferry to South Queensferry.

"Americans also brough different types of music with them like jazz with sigers such as Vera Lynn."

Vera Lynn (now Dame Vera Lynn) is English. She was born in London and was singing on the BBC as early as 1935, and to troops years before any Americans arrived.



Posted on: 12 July 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
you beat me to it once more ...I can only agree with the glaring errors as many a time in the long distant past I too crossed over the Firth ofForth nly bridge of the times in order to get to Edinburgh from Cowdenbeath and other points in Fifeshire

It does however remind meof the - allegedly - true story of the Old Scotsman returning to Aberdeen from London, where he had been checking his money in the Saccenach's Bank. On stopping at Edinburgh, he was joined by an American from Texas who regaled him on how much bigger and better and faster built, everything was in Texas until they started onto the bridge. TheAmerican stuck his head out of the window, saw the magnificence of the bridge and asked the Old Scotsman "how long has that bridge been here " ? The old Scotsman laid down his newspaper - looked out at the Bridge and said " Och - I dinna ken - it wasna here when I come doon last week " !
Incidently my Grandfather - Lwrence Glanceyworked on building that same Bridge !



Posted on: 07 November 2004 by greenhill2

To Peter
Having just surfed into this amazingly inaccurate account of WW2 events in the Forth Estuary during the War I must have been elsewhere during these events. I do recollect one or two isolated raids by the Luftwaffe ,bombing only reached as far as the Haymarket in Edinburgh when the Duff Street bonded store was attacked instead of nearby engineering works.Please see my account of enemy actions underRef:A1975872 or A2224333.Along with other subscribers a very good local history can be gleaned from
these excellent recollections.
Good work Peter I enjoy your replies!
Ed Thomson



Posted on: 07 November 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Many thanks, Ed. Let's hope that the school makes use of your contributions.





Posted on: 07 November 2004 by greenhill2

Hello Again Peter
There is a "story "locally about an American destroyer Captain receiving instructions to proceed to Rosyth and "anchor" below the Forth Bridge.He radioed the Dockyard to say he had reached the "second Bridge (Kincardine Swing Bridge) and was hard aground and could he have tug assistance,HOWZAT!
Ed Thomson



Posted on: 07 November 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper




Posted on: 08 November 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Greenhill -
are you sure the Bridge at Kincardine didn't ask the destroyer Captain by radio, to adjust his course by 15 degrees , to avoid a collision ?



Posted on: 08 November 2004 by greenhill2

to troopertomcanning
Idunno but he reputedly docked at Grangemouth !!
Ed Thomson

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Rationing Category
International Friendships Category
Edinburgh and Lothian Category
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