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WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Barnsley Archives and Local Studies
People in story: 
Irene Joan Fogg
Location of story: 
Goldthorpe, Yorkshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 April 2005

"This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Barnsley Archives and Local Studies Department on behalf of Irene Joan Fogg and has been added to the site with his/her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."
I was 15 when the war broke out. I can remember listening to the declaration on the radio. It was Sunday morning and I thought it was going to start there and then.

I was exempt from the military as my mother had arthritis, so I went into munitions at 16. I lived at Highgate. The first munitions was Crompton Parkinsons at Doncaster. Special buses took us to work. I had to walk to Goldthorpe in the black out for the bus. We made cases for 3 bullet cartridges. I remember the machine I worked on was massive and you got into trouble if you put the cartridges in the wrong way. We worked days and nights 6am — 7pm and 8pm — 8am, working two weeks days then two weeks nights. When we finished a day shift on Saturday afternoon, we started straight on to the night shift the next day. The wages were £2 something.

I worked there for two years and then it got closed down. I was transferred to the MOD at Sprotborough, making tracks for tanks. It was very dirty work and we looked just like pit men when we had finished. We made the tracks right from beginning to end, the mould, filling with steel — 8 processes in one factory. I was on the inspection team and I had to inspect every inch. We were told people’s lives depended on it. It was very heavy work and really a man’s job. But we only worked days and afternoons 6am — 2pm and 2pm — 10pm. It was the best wage, £3. I thought I was a millionairess, fantastic. I spent the rest of the war at the MOD.

We didn’t have much of a life; really we lost the best years of our life. Hundreds of people were waiting for shoes and clothes and everything had to be got on coupons. It was a struggle for clothing and everything, so when I wasn’t at work, I just stayed home. When it was my 21st, my mother made me a party. People gave her margarine, sugar and tea. There was still rationing until six years after the war and there was still a lot of black market at that time. There were no houses available and I still lived with my mum for six years after getting married.

In Highgate, there was a communal shelter in the school yard, for the whole village. During the Sheffield blitz, we all went to the village shelter. You could hear the planes going over all the time and you could tell the difference in the planes. Even in the shelter you could hear them pummelling Sheffield.

I can remember the planes coming over from York for D-Day. I was on afternoons. The noise was terrific. I was stood in the bedroom and hundreds of planes were going overhead.

For VE day we got two days holiday from work. We didn’t have any parties as we didn’t have any food.

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