- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Marie Wardle (m. Evans)
- Location of story:
- Youlgrave, Hanley
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 10 August 2005
Marie was called up to work in a munitions factory in The Potteries in 1940. She lived with about 1,000 other young women in a purpose-built hostel called Raleigh Hall at Swynnerton, where she shared a room with a friend. They travelled daily by coach to the factory near Hanley where her job, day after day for five years, was filling detonators — hazardous enough in itself but, as Marie remembers, “we all turned yellow”. She was free to come home to Youlgrave one weekend a month, provided she could overcome the travel difficulties. Not unexpectedly, Marie and her workmates were strictly regulated at work. Their bus was stopped at the gate and passes were carefully scrutinised; they had to change out of their own clothes, put on special overalls and leave their personal possessions in lockers. It was a very dangerous environment to work in, but fortunately for Marie and her colleagues, they escaped the tragedies that occurred in other parts of the country.
Life was not all doom and gloom. Marie remembers tea dances in Hanley, home-made entertainment in the hostel — in fact village life of a sort where all the residents were young and active — and one very special occasion in 1944 when they were visited by the King and Queen and by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt. And, of course, there was VE Day to be celebrated before it was back to Youlgrave and as near to normal life as the immediate post-war austerity would allow.
For those who stayed at home, there were many ways to serve in a voluntary capacity, especially at the time when the nation seemed most vulnerable. Some were part of organisations that already existed and had only to adapt to new imperatives. Others joined new formations that had no other function than wartime exigencies.
This story has been added to the site by Alison Tebbutt, Derby CSV Action Desk, on behalf of Norman Wilson and Andrew McCloy. The author has given his permission, and fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
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