- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Maureen Gamlin (nee Apletree)
- Location of story:
- Duckmanton, near Chesterfield Derbyshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 November 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Odilia Roberts from the Derby Action Team on behalf of Maureen Gamlin and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
Born in 1937, my parents and I moved to Duckmanton in 1939 where new homes had been built to accommodate workers for the nearby Markham Colliery. My grandfather and four of his sons all worked at the pit in different capacities (my father was one). My first recollection of wartime was sharing the mattress underneath the dining table with the boy from across the street. We were the only two children on the street at that time. Later we had a shelter built at the far end of the garden that several families shared when the sirens sounded. I don’t know what year it was when a bomb dropped near the village school leaving a huge crater, so my first school classroom in 1942 was in the vestry of the Methodist Chapel. The older children had to use the upstairs rooms at the Duckmanton Hotel until a new school was built some years later.
One of the highlights I remember was receiving food parcels from USA, which contained chiglets (a kind of chewing gum) and peanuts, but we were not allowed to share the nuts as they were given to a girl who was a vegetarian.
I learned to grow vegetables in our garden and we all helped the local farmer with the potato picking. We also kept rabbits which not only provided our food but whose skins were cured and used to make gloves and hats to keep us warm. I was also the envy of my friends as my mum made me a fur cape, she also made my dresses from any remnant to hand and knitted socks and cardigans.
Life was centred in the village as there was no local bus service and no one had cars. My parents provided accommodation for two Bevan boys, one from Cheadle Hulme and one from Tonbridge Wells. They were each given a camp bed, pillow and grey army blanket by the authorities. In later years, when my own son and daughter joined Cubs and Brownies, these blankets were made into camp blankets and were covered with badges. They are still in use today.
When we celebrated VE Day a party for the entire population of the village was held in the pit canteen. In the roof of the building was suspended an aeroplane. My mother made me a white dress with red and blue spots.
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