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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Joan Henry, Ray Lovell
Location of story: 
Yiewsley, Potters Bar, Chadwell Heath, E.Grinstead
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
18 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Ted Newcomen from the Hastings Community Learning Centre and has been added to the website on behalf of Joan Lovell with her permission and she fully understand the site’s terms and conditions.

I was born Joan Henry (married name Lovell) in 1923 and I left school in 1937 and worked in London for J.Taplin, a carpet manufacturer. In 1940 my firm was bombed to the ground and I can remember fireman all lying by the roadside exhausted.
After this we were met everyday by a van at Liverpool Street station and taken out to Yiewsley (west of London) where we had a temporary office. After a while the boss preferred us to live in his farmhouse at Potters Bar where we had a cook and housekeeper and worked in the double-garage.
When I reached 18 years old I joined the ATS in the Pay Corps for the RASC. One lovely hot day, I was travelling from my home in Chadwell Heath to Liverpool Street station. The windows were all wide open & the Germans tried to bomb the train — they missed but I saw nearby houses all go down like a pack of cards. The train kept going but I still had to have a chit signed by the RTO office at Liverpool Street to say why I was late for work!
I was confirmed in Wellington Barracks chapel just a week before it was bombed to the ground, killing many servicemen who were due to go abroad.
On 2nd July 1944 I married my husband Ray who was in the RAF. And borrowed a suit from an uncle. My white dress and my four bridesmaid’s dresses were borrowed from Ray’s sister. My mother saved up for months and months for my wedding cake and the reception was held in our dining room.
Because of air-raid warnings we couldn’t go on a honeymoon, so we went home with my mother-in-law to East Grinstead. The morning of my wedding I woke up in the Anderson Shelter with my cake and all the dresses under my bunk.
On returning the suit to my uncle I found a £5 note in the top pocket (my husband’s aunt had given it to him on his way to the church). It was a fortune to us, being worth about 2 weeks pay — we just had Utility Dockets!
When the war ended life was still very difficult. It was a job to find anywhere to live in the village of Hawkhurst. My husband went back to work for London Electricity Company and after that Southern Eastern Electricity Board and stayed with them till he retired.

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