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- Surrey History Centre
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- Surrey History Centre
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- 11 November 2003
This story is contributed by Mrs Pauline Wood, nee Jeffreys.
On the Saturday morning of the Battle of Britain we went to work at the Henry Hughes factory in Hainault which made echo sounders and other parts for ships and submarines. We soon had to go down to the shelters. We were there so long they said we could go home if we wanted to risk it, though they couldn't take responsibility for our safety as the All Clear hadn't sounded
I remember on the way home watching the Battle of Britain in the skies over where I lived in Barkingside. The RAF planes came from North Weald and Fairlop Airfields. I saw a German plane being shot down near Gants Hill - the German pilot came down by parachute.
At one stage the bombing was so bad that for three months we hardly got any sleep. In addition to the Henry Hughes factory there weas also the Plessey factory in Ilford and the American camp in Hainault.
I also remember the doodlebugs. My sister Dorothy & I had been out to a party and were all dressed up in our finery, my sister had a nice hat on. Then we saw the doodlebug going up the hill (Thomswood Hill, in Barkingside). Then it turned round & came back. Then the engine stopped! My sister grabbed me and dragged me into a front garden beside the wall. The doodlebug went off nearby. We weren't hurt, but our lovely clothes were muddy - all my sister could think about was her poor hat!
I remember when I got married in 1941 there was no way that you could get sugar to ice the cake. The family put all their coupons together for ingredients and my mother in law made a lovely cake. We then hired from the baker some cardboard boxes covered in something that looked like decorated icing. (It was probably plaster of Paris!) All the guests thought it looked wonderful and wondered how we had managed to get the icing. When it was time to cut the cake my father in law turned the light out, whipped the cardboard covers off & turned the light on again so that we could cut the cake. Everyone thought it was hilarious!
When I was pregnant it was almost impossible to get a new pram. I really needed one as I lived at the top of a steep hill. When my husband came home on embarkation leave we went to see a second hand pram. It was a nice big solid one and we bought it. On the way home I was really tired, so my husband helped me into the pram & pushed me home!
Later in the war a V2 rocket came down close by.
Our house was badly damaged. There had recently been a lull in the attacks, so we were all sleeping upstairs. The first thing we knew was a big draught and a terrible noise which went on and on as all the tiles slipped from the roofs of the houses. In the bedroom I shared with my sister our dressing table had fallen on the bed and the glass had shattered, but we were mostly protected by our eiderdown. I went to see how my father was. Half of my bedroom door had blown away, but I tripped over the bottom, which was still there. When I got to my father's bedroom the lead light window had twisted and punctured the pillow. There were feathers everywhere. Dad was very confused as his nose was bleeding and there were feathers all over his face - he couldn't breathe. Fortunately he was all right. The canary though had turned black - he was covered in soot! When we went outside, in the soft ground we found a two pound pot of marmalade, completely undamaged - we never found out who it belonged to, but we really enjoyed it! Most of the people in the other houses were evacuated to the local school, but Dad didn't want to leave, and there had been so much damage recently there wasn't anywhere locally to go. The house was very badly damaged - it was condemned, but as there was nowhere else for us to go, they decided to repair it. We only had one habitable room - we had to sleep on chairs for a bit. We could see the sky through the tarpaulins on the roof. The bricks in the wall were loose, so to look out we could just pull a brick out of the wall!
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