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13 July 2014
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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
People in story: 
Jean Barlow (nee Langsford)
Location of story: 
Birmingham
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4170845
Contributed on: 
09 June 2005

When war started, I was working in the drawing office at Lucas, Great King St. I was soon called up for part-time duties as a firewoman at Central Fire Station, working in the evening and at weekends. Sometimes when there had been long air raids, we had to work all night and go straight to our day jobs in our uniforms. I continued with my Fire Duties throughout the wasr and was promoted to Leading Firewoman.

When it was my turn to be called up for a full time war job, I was sent to Wednesbury Technical College to train as a metallurgist. I enjoyed this as chemistry had been my favourite subject at school but after I qualified, I was dissapointed to be sent to Bakelite - a plastics laboratory. There were compensations, however! The spare parachute silk which was left over from the manufacturing process came in very useful for making undies, and heavier material made small table cloths which we embroidered.

On the social front, at Bakelite, we organised dances to raise money to send, cigarettes, chocolate and toiletries to badly burnt airman, who because for the experimental plastic surgery they received, were known as Dr. McIndoes Guinea Pigs. After the war, I stayed on at Bakelite, leaving in 1947.

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