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15 October 2014
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A Young Mother and Housewife in Lode Village during the Second World War

by cambsaction

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Katherine Coleman
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30 August 2005

Kate Coleman's Potato Recipe Booklet Published in 1936

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Mike Langran of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Kate Coleman and has been added to site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions

A Young Mother and Housewife in the village of Lode during the Second World War.

We were told we had to have black out curtains so as not to show any light at night. We had to rush out and buy blackout material and make the blackout curtains. I still have some of that material now in good condition after 65 years! We had an A.R.P. Warden (Air Raid Patrol Warden) who would come round at night and check he couldn’t se any light coming from our houses-he would knock on your door and shout “You’re showing a light!” It may just be a slither of light showing at the edge of the blackout curtain or the merest of light showing through the key hole.

In those days we didn’t have electricity. We used candles and paraffin lamps for lighting. We had to be sure to fill the lamps with oil in them daytime otherwise you would be trying to fill them at night in the dark which was not easy at all. For cooking we used a Primus stove and also an oven with a coal fire. Coal cost one shilling and eleven pence a hundred weight! I once lit the paraffin lamp and then went to visit a neighbour, when I returned the room was filled with black sooty stuff just like fog. The least draught would flare the flame up.

We didn’t have running water. Wash day would be Mondays-a whole day affair. We would light the copper boiler, when the water was boiling we’d wash the whites first and then coloureds and hang them out to dry, then empty the copper boiler by scooping it out with a bowl that had a handle. Sometimes the fire wouldn’t light.

We had to have “Make do” meals as everything was rationed. Potatoes were the families favourite; I had an old potato recipe booklet that I used. We had dried egg that helped but not as good as the real thing. Rabbits were often on the menu as we could get by trapping or shooting them. Oranges and bananas were a real luxury, we had to go into Cambridge and queue for ages, if you were pregnant you were allowed to go to the front of the queue and get served first.

Clothing was rationed. To make things go further we would make children’s shirts or blouses from the tail of men’s shirts. If you cam across brown paper or string, you kept them. You didn’t cut the string to open parcels, you undid the knots and put it into the “string bag”

If you had a spare room, you had to billet a soldier. When they came to check us out, they told us we had to have our child sleep with us and a soldier was to be billeted in the child’s room. I started with 1 soldier and ended up with three. Later they left and the R.A.F. came to Bottisham and we then had an airman. His wife would stay at weekends with us. After that the Americans came but we didn’t billet ay American airmen. We were only meant to sleep the soldiers and not give them any meals but when we had evening drinks you included them.

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