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'You Have To Go, That's That'

by Genevieve

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Mary Woolley
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12 July 2005

I was 17 ½ when then war started. I had lots of brothers and sisters, but they were in the Army, Navy and the RAF. I was the younger one, but we all got called up. The whole family was gone. I was called up at 17, and at 17 ½, I was in the army. We lived in Lancashire and I had to go in the army, the ATS and I liked it at first. Then later, I moved from the Lancashire Fusiliers where I was attached, down to Donnington.

I was quite shocked when I got the call up letter. I thought it was only men who went into the army, but my Dad said ‘you have to go; that’s that’. Before that, I just worked in a factory around the corner. At first in the army it was exciting — something different. I made lots of friends there. Not all from the same area, but some. There was a lot from London and different parts you know. You just had to try your best and mix — you know, but I was a very shy person; so I found it difficult, but as time went by, I made lots of friends. But of course the war was on, and there was bombing so we had quite a rough time.

I had a friend I went to school with, and she lost her whole family. I never saw her afterwards — I think she got killed when the bombing was going on.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Mary Woolley and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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