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An Engineering Company in Loughborough - A Secretary's Story

by agecon4dor

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Miss Dorothy E Wiggins
Location of story: 
Loughborough, Leicestershire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
31 October 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from Age Concern, Dorchester on behalf of Miss Dorothy E Wiggins, and has been added to the site with her permission. Miss Wiggins fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was 29 years old at the beginning of the war. I was living in Loughborough to where I had been moved by my employer, Petters Engineering Ltd. I worked in the light engineering part of the firm that had moved out of its Yeovil premises to give room for the expansion of the aircraft section, Lysanders, at the beginning of the war. Both places, ie Loughborough and Yeovil, were bombed, but we, at Loughborough, were on the fringes of the Coventry blitz.

On the Sunday morning in September 1939 when war was declared, I was at the telephone exchange learning foreign emergency numbers. My job was sufficiently important to have to know these numbers; I was a personal secretary. Our duties at Loughborough were switched from Sales to the needs of a wartime engineering firm for other establishments requiring their products. Petter engines were used for farmers’ milking machines, industrial uses — often emergency ones — and as engines for naval requirements for smaller craft. I was Secretary to the Chief Sales Engineer for Home Sales.

I joined the Home Guard in Loughborough. We manned some offices out of hours. I had a bump on the nose in the black-out and a black eye.

One of our Directors, Captain Petter, said that they were thinking of evacuating our London office overnight. He wanted to know if the Landladies of our digs could accommodate any of the three people from the London office. My landlady said that she would rather have a lady from London she didn’t know anything about, than have an expectant woman from Coventry. When I said my landlady would take one of the London ladies, we met them at the station and one of the London staff moved into my digs. We got on beautifully. We had to teach her how to wear country style clothes instead of the London style.

My landlady’s husband built an air raid shelter in the garden for himself and his wife with only room for the two of them. So when the sirens went Katy (the lady from the London office) and I went underneath the dining room table. There were bombs in the area but none dropped very near us. We played cards underneath the table as we waited for the All Clear.

During the war my Company designed something to take the place of petrol on buses — but it was only at the experimental stage. We worked 12 hours a day. We had a firm’s Club to mix with the other employees. That’s where we had our education — in darts, billiards and other games.

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