- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Location of story:
- Newcastle, Coventry and Leatherhead, Surrey
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 May 2005
My future husband and I started going out when I was 14, and working in the Co-Op in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. He had been a miner, but was called up for 6 months’ training in July 1939 (they always knew the war was going to happen). I was 17 by that time, and we were courting. Well, that 6 months turned into 6 ½ years’ service, and they later stopped calling up miners, but my husband always said he loved life in the army- he had never enjoyed mining. Before the war I was too scared to tell my father that I had a boyfriend, but after he got his uniform and came home on leave everything was all right. He ended up a staff Sergeant, so he must’ve done all right, and we married in 1942, when I was working at the hospital in Leatherhead, Surrey, and he was in Ireland.
When I was 20, they started calling up women, and I volunteered to become an auxiliary nurse in South Shields. Whilst I was training we had 3 or 4 lectures a week and all the writing up to do, but my husband and I were already busy writing to each other every day (although our letters were censored, we still seemed to find plenty to talk about!). After a while I thought ‘Blow this!’ and went to hand in my notice. The nurse in charge had seen my letters and knew that they were the reason I couldn’t complete my work. She tried to talk me out of sacrificing my career- but I determined to become an auxiliary nurse, and was posted to Leatherhead in Surrey. All went well until a Sister told me I ‘hadn’t got the feet’ for the work- they were all over blisters, and nursing in those days involved 12 hour shifts! I had a medical and was told I should go for a secondary nursing position. However, I had family friends in Croydon who knew of a small firm making gauges for planes. It was clean work, I was told, lots of girls in white coats- so I got an appointment to see the supervisor, and was promised a job if I could get a green card. At the Labour Exchange they told me ‘You can’t pick and choose what job you take’- but when they heard about my feet, I got my green card!
It was delicate work in the factory- a bit like watch making. At least it was clean- and I got to sit down and rest my poor feet! I remember the Doodlebugs from that period- far worse than bombs. But there- you were young, and you just carried on.
When the war was over, my husband didn’t want to go back to mining, so he looked for jobs elsewhere. Coventry needed help at that time, so he moved down, to work for Dunlop, and stayed there for the rest of his working life. The housing was terrible after the war, and he stayed in the Sherbourne Hostel for a time. We didn’t have much money to spare so I stayed with his mother up North and he used to come home on the bus as often as he could. We had a baby in 1946, but were apart for another 6 years- my little boy was nearly 7 before my husband could get a house for us to join him in Coventry.
We celebrated our 60 year anniversary 2 years before he died, in July, having stuck together all that time, from boy and girl.
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