- Contributed by
- Tony Lockwood
- People in story:
- Eileen Cast
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 December 2004
A lorry pulled up, the groups collected their suitcases and jumped on board. This time Molly and Mary's billet proved to be situated just a stones through away from where they had to scrub the floors in the large house previously. Molly and Mary were introduced to kindly Mrs Griff a middle-aged lady of welsh descent who still had a trace of accent in her tounge. She showed them to the second floor, entering a room which contained a double bed, a wardroab and a chest of drawers. The floor was covered in lino, around three sides of the bed a narrow rug covered the lino.
I hope you will be comfortable Mrs G was saying Molly and Mary assured her they would be. The bathroom is on the landing up here she made her way along the landing up three more linoed steps. She pushed open the door. There was a white bath over which was perched an Ascot water heater.
Mrs Griff made her way downstairs, Molly and Mary closed their bedroom door. Thank goodness its much better than the bathroom I slept in last night said Molly. She kept Marie in fits of laughter imitating Marys haughty attitude and trying to reach behind her head with her leg held high. A knock came on the door. It was Mrs Griff with a tray of tea and a couple of biscuits each. Molly and Mary unpacked their cases.
The time came for Molly and Mary to retire. They were only a matter of a 100 miles north of their homes but they had noticed how much colder the area seemed. xxxx-one blanket. At the best of times Molly's hands and feet were always cold. They climbed into bed. Not knowing each other apart from meeting on parade Molly and Mary were naturally reserved and shy and kept far apart on their own side of the bed. The lighted lamp had been extinguished and they settled down to have a good nights sleep. An hour or so passed. Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch- what was that. Molly raised her hand which she could hardly feel and wiped the back of her hand across her nose. Cor! Its me teeth chattering. Are you awake? Whispered Marie. Aint been asleep yet I'm so bloody cold answered Molly. So am I, what can we do. I know lets put our coats on the bed. They jumped out of bed as Marie switched her torch on. They groped for their coats and flung them across the bed. The weight made it seem warmer but after what seemed like another hour Marie sat up and said I can't stand this what can we do?Is there any more stuff we can put on the bed. They threw on jumpers and skirts but they didn't seem adequate. I know lets wear the jumpers said Molly Great idea, I've got another, lets put these rugs on the bed. As quick as lighting they whipped up the three rugs and placed them on top of their coats. This should do it. Once again they climbed in half-dressed, the weight of the rugs felt marvellous. Whether through exhaustion or warmth gradually enabling them to they fell asleep, only to be awakened a few minutes later (or so it seemed) by the knocking on the door. A cup of tea ladies With a start Molly and Marie sat up, the surveyed the disorder of the room. Oh Crikey whispered Molly, can't let the house proud old girl see this, Just a minute Mrs Griff called Marie. As quick as a flash the rugs and coats disappeared, the girls snuggled back under the cloths so their jumpers would not be visible to Mrs Griffs eyes and both chorused Come in. Whatever passed through Mrs Griffs mind as to what the scuffling was due to during the few seconds she was left standing at the door, one will never know.
A few days later Marie was detailed to help the cook in the officers mess. Molly was given the job of helping in the quartermasters stores. She was taken to the temporary stores where she was introduced to Quartermaster Fisher. A grey haired dapper little man in his smart well kept uniform. His sharp beady little eyes above his black moustache edged with grey hairs which had been twirrled together eyed Molly up and down. Hm, well, now girls, when they were alone, we have to keep you in good training so lets start as we mean to go on, sit down there!. He pointed towards a small desk behind which was a stool.
Molly seated herself at the small desk clasping her hands together and resting them on top of the sheets of paper in front of her. Quartermaster Fisher had the bearing of a regular soldier, or at least he must have served in the Great War and done service since. The Quarter soon made it clear her thoughts were on the right track. He had indeed served many years in the regular army before joining the territorials. Hem! Well now, begam the QM as he started to slowly pace up and down in the front of Molly seated at the desk, with his right hand tucked into his S.B belt, the left placed behind his back. I am in charge of the stores here and you presumably will be my assistant. Rationing has not been introduced as yet so lets assume we are getting our stocks in and keep'em replenished. Once goods start to be rationed thingsls get tough. We must keep the lads fed, an army marches on its stomarch. One important rule is never to refuse or reduce the amount of grub you order. Once you state you can manage on the amount you have or are getting then they'll start to cut and carve it about. D'yer follow me gel? Always allow a margin extra, never a degree under O.K.?
Molly gulped and managed a weak Yes sir, I see what you mean. The QM stopped in front of her turned and began to slowly raise and lower himself on his toes. He let the first lesson sink in, then turned and began his pacing up and down again. Now what we have to do is to judge how much foodstuffs we need to send out to each battery, his voice went on and on multiplying, subtracting, dividing all sorts of commodities. Lets begin with bread thats an easy one for you. He twirled his moustache and his beady eyes seemed to sparkle. Take the top sheet off that pile of forms which I have just started on and break that figure up into enough to keep our batteries going for every day each week. Molly's head was already swimming with figures. To cater for a family at home was about as much as she was capable of, to ask her to start catering for a ruddy battalion was enough to give her the quakes. Oh hell, this wasn't another of those suspected hoaxes such as she had experienced on the telephones. She gingerly picked up the pencil the QM had placed on the paper. Glancing up, hoping to catch even the suggestion of a twinkle in those beady little eyes, she dropped them quickly as he had picked up the phone and was saying in a brusque voice Yes, yes, Captain, her forms will be ready for you by midday a pause then a cough for the bread of course sir, then he left.
Molly looked in dismay at the hundreds of figures dancing around under her pencil. She tried in vain to sort out and match up the columns marked gross, Ibs-ozs personnel etc,etc she found a piece of scrap which she soon covered in scribble. She finally decided upon a figure which she nervously inserted in the column she felt appropriate. Thank goodness the QM had given her a pencil, if it was wrong at least it could be rubbed out. She was just about to start another column when the QM entered the stores. Time for your dinner gel grab it while you can. Molly didn't need a second bidding she gulped Yes sir, QM sergeant sir she disappeared out of the stores so fast as her legs would carry her hoping at the same time the gruff but kindly QM would not think her too much of a fool she did try her best, when he looked at her work.
After dinner Stevie approached her and asked her how she had got on. Molly explained her consternation at finding it figure work. Marie needs help in the kitchen will you go there and give a hand? notwithstanding the fact that Stevie could by rights have ordered her to go and help, help Molly sighed with relief and happily agreed. She had dreaded going back and facing all those figures.
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