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Memories of Pamela Ford, a Londoner from Wandsworth

by Woodbridge Library

Contributed by 
Woodbridge Library
People in story: 
Pamela Ford, William Hall,
Location of story: 
Wandsworth, Melbourn, Kensington
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A2811665
Contributed on: 
06 July 2004

Pamela had feelings of bewilderment before war was declared. One day her Uncle Bill (William Hall), who was working in a factory before the war, was there, and then Pamela came home from school and found he wasn't. He was posted to France in the Territorials. After Dunkirk they lived in Wandsworth, and he threw a message from a viaduct to tell the family he was back home. There were no telephones, and you didn't know when they got home. Pamela and her sister were evacuated to an aunt's at Melbourn near Duxford, where they attended school. She didn't take her Ted with her ( teddy bear) because she was 10 and it wasn't done, really. During the 4 years she was there they went home occasionally, during 'quiet'times, but when the sirens would go and the guns would start they had to sleep in the cellar. When they were with her aunt in Melbourn they stayed in a pub called the Black Horse. One morning there was a real hullabaloo. There was a parachutist who had come down in the orchard. The Home Guard dealt with him. They were quite comical -just like Dad's Army. The local schoolmaster was in the Home Guard, and they didn't like him much, so they used to poke fun at him. There was a lot of humour about the situation. Airmen used to come in the pub and they were very nice. They cycled there. Sometimes they used to go for walks with them. Her mother told them about the tremendous amount of bombing going on in London. Once an entire street was wiped out while she was in London. The roof of her house had come off and her mother wasn't allowed into the house. Pamela suddenly thought of Ted. The bomb disposal men found him and threw him out of the window to her mother. Ted was born in 1930 - he was a MerryThought Bear. When the Americans heard the story of Ted being rescued they thought it was lovely. One terrible thing Pamela remembered - her mother showed her a front page photo of the Daily Mirror - a picture of an Australian soldier kneeling, having been burned by the Japanese. She will never forget the image. After Uncle Bill had gone to France she remembered being terrified at being told she was to have her gas mask fitted after she came home from school. It wasn't as bad as she imagined. She left school at 14 and went back to London and the doodlebugs started ( pilotless planes).She could remember the horror of them - having to count in silence after the engine cut out. She was working in Kensington as a receptionist. Her mother decided to send her back to Aunt May's, but they didn't stay long with her Aunt this time, and went back to London. Education was severely disrupted but her mother wasn't worried about that. She was more worried about survival and keeping safe. She was a widow. Memories of school - the children worked hard to raise money for the forces. There were no toys and second hand toys were at a premium, so they used to make them and sell them. All the years she was at her aunt's she never once went to a doctor. She reckons it was the plain food. Her aunt cooked for seven. She made a pudding in a big basin with a big onion in the middle and a few bits of meat around it. No cakes, but jam in plenty- plum jam mostly. She thinks it kept them healthy. No biscuits/lemonade/cakes but you just accepted it.

End of the war
She and her sister went up to London to witness the jubliations but found the crowds a bit scary- afraid they'd lose each other.
She kept a picture of an airforce pilot who was killed and still has it. So many people she knew were killed.
When she was 12 she went potato picking (got two weeks off school) in a village called Meldrith. She went on her bike, very shy and embarrassed, collecting her pay (10/- note in an envelope she thinks). She also collected hips after school. She remembers getting 5/-. They made syrup out of the rosehips.
Her aunt ran a car- an Austin (small quantity of petrol). She visited her mother in Haverhill once a month, passed Duxford on the way. They always hoped they'd hit the curfew on the way back. They enjoyed being diverted.

'This story was submitted to the 'People's War' site by Linda Firth of the County Heritage Team on behalf of Pamela Crosby (Ford) and has been added to the site with her pernmission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
London Category
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