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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Phyllis Ethel Folkard
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 November 2005

During the first week of the outbreak of war I volunteered to help the war effort, first of all spending every afternoon making garments for anyone wounded in the air raids on London. The late Lord Derby lent his London home, Stratford Place, as a base, later to be taken over by America. From there I went to Lady Mountbatten's home in Eaton Square; the the basemenrt given to the Red Cross. We were sorting clothing that had been sent from Canada and Austraila into 'Bundles for Britain'. Alot was rescued from the sea, as ship were sunk.
Then I became a post-woman in London, delivering mail through the blitz for two years. However, as men were being called up they started taking older women so i decided to join the WRNS. As I was entering the recruitment building, I was followed by a camera man asking for a picture for America, as at that stage of the war it was unusual to go from one uniform to another.
I spent 4 years in the WRNS - 2 years at Boom Defence at Felixstowe - a secret base. then I went to Great Yarmouth and finally to the Royal Navel hospital in Gillingham. As a steward to the Admiral, I shared with another Wren living in the Admirals residence in the grounds of the hospital. Admiral Sir Edward Greerson was surgeon to our late King and Queen, and was knighted for his long service in the navy during my stay. The Wren-cook and I were given a bottle of champagne on the day he was knighted. He was always appreciative of all we did for him and Lady Greerson. I remember a Harley Streey eye specialist gave his services free to the hospital and come to stay one weekend to operate on a sailors' eyes. The Admiral told us that this surgeon had saved the eye of a winning Derby racehorse.
Life was rather different for the two of us towards the end of our time as Wrens, but our memories lasted of the lovely quarters and the Admiral a gentleman.

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