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15 October 2014
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I remember 1939-45

by Leeds Libraries

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Leeds Libraries
People in story: 
Marion +Florence Inman
Location of story: 
Leeds
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4518560
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

Mrs Marion Inman 2005

In 1939 I was 17 years old and a trouer machinist at Montague Burton's Factory at Hudson Rd Mills in Leeds 9.Bundles of grey material started coming through from the cutting room where the workers there said it was for the militia and that there was likely to be a war. Later on khaki material came through and some of the elderly machinists wept as they had worked there through the First World War.
On Sunday September 3rd at home we listened to the radio broadcast in which Churchill said Britain was at war with Germany. The blackout was immediately enforced. Our neighbour was the air raid warden for our part of Halton Moor. Every house was given an Anderson shelter. Ours was always full of water when the air raid siren sounded so Dad decided we should split up. Dad went to the bottom of the garden, my sister went next door, my brother was out working in the AFS(Auxiliary Fire Service)but mum and myself went 8 doors down to the Baptist Chapel where I was later married. Dad thought if a bomb dropped the whole family would not be wiped out. My eldest brother was conscripted in to the army and learned to drive army vehicles in Orkney and India. I still have his cards and souvenirs.
We had a large garden and Dad kept hens. We had tomatoes in the greenhouse and green vegetables and potatoes. Our grandad had a small holding with pigs and when one pig was killed it was shared by the whole family. Nothing was wasted. Mum made brawn with the pigs head and so we never seemed to go short of food,
In 1940 I went to work at Appleyards of Leeds in North Street helping to make parts for aircraft wings. My brother also worked there from the age of 14 and trained to be a motor mechanic so we cycled there every day unless I was on the night shift. However the firm had to diversify during the war and had to make wings for the Fairey Swordfish and parts for aircraft carriers. one night during an air raid on Leeds incendiary bombs came through the blackout roof so we put dustbin lids over the holes to stop fires occurring in the factory.
After 18 months at Appleyards I was sent to the labour exchange in Mabgate for an interview and was sent to Curtiss's Shopfitters at Low Field near the River Aire. This factory had started making the wooden parts for rifles. Two sisters worked here, both married with children. The older children were at school the younger ones were looked after by their grandmother. Everyone played their part. Their brother Ernest was in the King's Own Yorkshire Regiment stationed in Iceland and they asked me to be a Pen Pal in 1942. When the regiment (the 49th division) came back to England prepare for the Normandy landings we met at his parents home, as by now I had got friendly with the family. On the 8th May 1943 we were married at Osmondthorpe Baptist Chapel. A friend played the hymn 'Fight the good Fight' on the piano going in to sign the register and on coming out 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. We had soldiers sailors and airmen AFS personnel and a land army girl in the congregation. Little did we know that 2years to the day the war would be over. My husband was in Holland then and served with the army of occupation in Austria Germany and Italy until June 1946. We remember the boys who did not return and will never forget them.

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Message 1 - I remember 1939-45

Posted on: 22 July 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Florence

It was Chamberlain, not Churchill, who you heard declaring war on that fateful day.

But that aside, you brought back so many memories to me of 'the old 'String of Beads'. Leeds. I was born there, in Lady Pitt Lane now long gone. I was there from birth, apart from a slight interval from 1940 to 1946 and a further interval from 1948 to 1953. Halton Moor I know well, although I lived in Hunslet before the war then immediately after in Meadow Road, next to the Picture House. All obliterated now.

Appleyards, you mention, later concentrated on selling Jaguar cars. But North Street I remember well, all those Jewish bespoke tailors from there almost up to Chappletown, a hive of bustle and activity. And then Montague Burtons, and their ready made suits. The Labour Exchange in Mabgate, you mention, was still their in 1953 when I came out of the army; they got me a job as a malster with Tetley's Brewery - beer was still entirely hand made then. Those were the days.

Kind regards,
Peter

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